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Four bidders in line for new DLR trains

Transport for London has issued an Invitation to Negotiate in its search for a manufacturer to design and build the next trains for the UK capital’s Docklands Light Railway. Four bidders have prequalified for the next stage of the process – Alstom, Bombardier, CAF,  and a consortium of Siemens, Stadler Bussang and Stadler Rail Valencia. It is expected that the contract will be awarded during 2018. It is planned that the 43 new ‘walk-through’ trains, each 87m long, will come into service from 2022. Of those, 33 trains will replace existing stock, helping to boost capacity on the system by...
Melbourne completes W-Class audit

Melbourne completes W-Class audit

An audit by Australia’s Victoria State Government has found that just 27 of its stored W-Class trams have the potential for refurbishment and re-use in passenger service. A total of 752 trams of the type were produced between 1923-56 and 224 remain on VicTrack’s register. The famous cars were phased out of revenue service in 2012, although the 27 are those fitted with uprated braking systems in the early 2000s. Six cars have already been modernised for use on the free City Circle tourist route and given the designation W8; enhancements include uprated traction motors, suspension and braking systems and LED lighting. The cost of such restoration is reported at AUD2m (approx EUR1.3m) per car. A further three SW6 cars have been converted for use as restaurant trams. The audit, announced in late 2016 by State Transport Minister Jacinta Allan and completed in November, involved detailed external and internal inspection and a grading scale assessing each car’s condition. The results have been handed to a Special Reference Group to decide the future of around 200 stored vehicles (mainly W5, SW5, W6, SW6 and W7 variants). The majority are in the Newport workshop and haven’t moved in decades: 139 are deemed suitable for potential static display, operation by heritage tramway groups or as spares for the later cars (W5-onwards) already in museums, while 20 specially-painted ‘art trams’ have been identified as having cultural value, alongside two themed trams and six historic advertising cars. A further six could be used for operational spares, while another 15 could be used for static spares. “Some of them are in OK nick, some are...
Škoda sold to PPF Group

Škoda sold to PPF Group

Following more than a year of speculation, and negotiations with potential suitors including Chinese rolling stock giant CRRC and Czech billionaire Daniel Kretínsky, PPF Group announced it had acquired 100% of Škoda Transportation shares on 25 November. The transaction is reportedly worth in excess of CZK10bn (EUR395m); completion is subject to approval by regulatory authorities. PPF was founded in 1991 by Czech entrepreneur Petr Kellner and has developed a diverse EUR35bn portfolio of assets in markets such as financial services, telecommunications, biotechnology and agriculture. Kellner retains a 98.92% stake. Earlier this year Škoda announced record 2016 earnings of CZK1.57bn (EUR61.7m) against a turnover of CZH15.7bn (EUR616.4m). Although turnover had fallen by around 15% year-on-year, the company announced that net profit had risen from CZK588m (EUR23.1m) in 2015. Exports accounted for just over half of the company’s production during the period, employing over 5300 staff. Trams remained the mainstay of its activities last year, with 87 low-floor vehicles produced for Helsinki, Bratislava and Praha and contracts signed for deliveries to Chemnitz, Eskiehir and Riga in 2016. It has also been involved in joint ventures for local assembly of its tramway products in China, including with CSR Quingdao Sifang and Beijing Subway Rolling Stock Equipment...
BQX mock-up unveiled

BQX mock-up unveiled

Public officials and advocates of proposals to build a 22.5km (14-mile) light rail line connecting the New York boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens revealed a life-size mock-up of an Alstom Citadis low-floor vehicle at the Brooklyn Naval Yard on 13 November. The 14m USD100 000 prototype was shipped from Nice for the event. The Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) is intended to reduce congestion along the waterfront of the East River and improve connections to the city. Still in the early planning stages, the new line could open in 2024; the area’s  last lines closed on 31 October 1956. Announced by New York Mayor Bill De Blasio in February 2016, the double-track route would run between Astoria and Sunset Park, although critics have suggested that the plan to issue bonds against future property taxes along the line would not be sufficient to meet the project’s USD2.5bn pricetag and that these funds instead be invested in upgrading the city’s existing...
R1 ‘BatTram’ project cancelled

R1 ‘BatTram’ project cancelled

The R1 (Russia One) low-floor tram prototype will never go into series production, it has been confirmed by Uraltransmash’s new owners, due to a lack of orders and complexities associated with the radical design. A three-section prototype was revealed at the Innoprom exhibition in Yekaterinburg in 2014, dubbed by many as ‘an iPhone on rails’ or the ‘BatTram’. With composite construction, innovative interior layouts and advanced suspension and door systems, the concept also featured an inversely-raked driver’s cab that increased forward visibility by reducing glare and giving a 30% wider forward view, according to designer OKB Atom. No orders materialised in the subsequent three years, despite reported interest from both Yekaterinburg and Casablanca, and Uraltransmash’s parent company Uralvagonzavod found itself in difficulties. It was taken over by state-owned defence and technology conglomerate Rostec following a presidential decree on 27 December 2016. Rostec Director of Special Projects Vassili Brovko said: “The R1 is very beautiful… but it has not managed to find a place in the market, and it never will. “First, there is no chassis, then the tram is not easy to repair. If someone broke something, it would be hard to figure out where to order a spare part and how long it would take to get it.” Rostec is reportedly still working with state-owned Vnesheconombank to remedy UVZ’s financial...