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The 12th UK Light Rail Conference

The 12th UK Light Rail Conference

The 12th UK Light Rail Conference took place at the University of Manchester on 18-19 July, with over 260 delegates debating key issues on the future of the mode, and with presentations and panel debates on core strategic, technical and operational issues. With an ever-growing international presence, the event is a showcase in the promotion of technology and public transport innovation. Delegates came from 12 countries to the event – supported by Transport for Greater Manchester, UKTram and the Department for Transport – that also featured exhibits from leading industry suppliers and service providers alongside a walking tour of the city’s Second City Crossing. Networking sessions were hosted by KeolisAmey Docklands, a drinks reception was held by Keolis and a summer barbecue event for all delegates was hosted by event organiser Mainspring. The conference began with a keynote speech from Transport for Greater Manchester Chief Executive Dr Jon Lamonte who outlined the city’s 2040 vision. The region’s Metrolink network celebrated its 25th birthday two days before the event – it now stretches to over 90km (56 miles) with 120 high-floor trams. Dr Lamonte said: “We want to be a top-flight world city by 2025. The region is experiencing a population explosion… we are experiencing some of the fastest growth outside London.” “Our residents tell us they want access to jobs and opportunities, while businesses want access to new markets. The future generation, if we’re going to stop them disappearing off on HS2 to London, need to see a future here.” The welcome was followed by TfGM’s new Head of Metrolink, Danny Vaughan, who took the opportunity to thank outgoing...

UK tramway operators given draft ‘safety recommendations’ by RAIB

The UK’s Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has published draft recommendations for UK tram operators in its latest update following the Sandilands crash on the London Tramlink network on 9 November 2016 that saw seven fatalities. A full report is expected later this year. The RAIB says it is has written to Transport for London, operator Tram Operations Ltd, trade body UKTram and all UK operators to formally confirm the areas its recommendations are expected to cover. These are likely to be: • Provision of active tram protection to prevent serious accidents due to excessive speed at high-risk locations • Research into active means of detecting the attention state of drivers, and intervening in the event of inattention • Improved containment of passengers by tram windows and doors • Setting up of an industry body to facilitate more effective co-operation between UK owners and operators on matters related to safety performance and the development of common standards The RAIB has added that its investigation into how TOL manages fatigue risk may result in a recommendation, and a recommendation to the industry may be made on the improvement of onboard CCTV. The independent safety agency says there may be further safety management and regulatory recommendations; its report is separate to any investigation by the British Transport Police or the Office of Rail and...

Jacobs USD3.3bn takeover of CH2M to create new global engineering giant

In the latest in a series of consolidation deals in the construction sector, on 2 August it was announced that Texas-based Jacobs Engineering is to take over rival CH2M in a USD3.3bn cash and shares deal. The deal, expected to close before the end of the year, would more than double Jacobs’ revenue from its buildings and infrastructure business and give it greater footprint in the public transport market. The takeover is made up of 60% in cash and 40% in Jacobs stock; the USD3.3bn includes USD416m of CH2M’s net debt. The firm said it will be able to achieve USD150m cost-savings by the end of the second year. Both engineering firms have significant contracts in the light and urban rail sector; in recent years Jacobs has worked on major LRT programmes in Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles and Chicago, while CH2M has more global references, with contracts on Metrolinx (Ontario), Hyderabad Metro (India), London’s Docklands Light Railway and Crossrail (UK) and the Klang Valley MRT project in...
Kramatorsk trams make their final run

Kramatorsk trams make their final run

Kramatorsk closed its final route on 1 August, ending 80 years of tramway operation in the eastern Ukrainian city. The tramway provided an important role in this community of 160 000, serving the large NKMZ machine-building works at the mid-point of the 14.6km (nine-mile) north-south ‘spine’. But ridership has dwindled, with only the main route and northern and south-eastern branches surviving into the 21st Century. The south-western route to the railway station closed in 2003 and the system closed entirely due to conflict in the Donbas region in spring 2014. The city’s decision to abandon its trams was made earlier this year, citing inadequate funds for fleet and track replacement. Falling revenues due to a decline in industrial activity have made such investment unsustainable. A commitment has been made to redeploy as many of the undertaking’s 50 staff as possible. Five KTM-5 bogie cars were used for service, from an operational fleet of eight dating from 1974. Nine buses are to replace the tram service and the city plans to buy a further three to enhance frequency. New trams would reportedly have cost UAH12-15m (EUR390 000-490 000) each, with modernisation quoted at UAH2-3m per vehicle. This compares with UAH1.5m (EUR49 000) for a new bus. Almost all of the system’s track was on reservation, either as roadside double-track or double-track grass alignment between separate carriageways; 34.7km (21.6 miles) of tracks are to be lifted and will be put up for sale with the...

FTA plan to remove blockages to private sector transit investment

The US Federal Transit Administration announced a proposal to remove “unnecessary procedures” that could hinder the formation of public-private partnerships for transport projects on 31 July. The proposed Private Investment Project Procedures (PIPP) would help the federal government develop “more effective approaches” to spurring private sector participation in areas such as project planning, development, finance, design, construction, maintenance and operations, according to the FTA. Recipients of Federal funding will be allowed to identify specific FTA regulations, practices, procedures or guidance documents that may be an impediment to private investment – and, if required, apply for waivers or exemptions. The FTA stated that PIPP could not be used to waive any requirement under the National Environmental Policy Act or any other provision of Federal statute, however. “One of the Trump Administration’s priorities is to allow private sector resources and expertise to help rebuild America’s infrastructure,” said US Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “This proposal will help us better understand the ways that unnecessary procedures may get in the way of building the best projects at the lowest cost to the public.” The FTA will accept comments until 29...