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Houston transit services suspended due to flooding

Houston transit services suspended due to flooding

Rainfall generated by Hurricane Harvey and its tropical storm aftermath saw the suspension of all transit service by Houston Metro (Texas) from Saturday 26 to Wednesday 30 August. Over 800mm (32in) fell in 72 hours, causing extensive flooding. Rail service was suspended, airports were closed and highways rendered impassable. In addition to bus services, Houston Metro operates three light rail lines: Red, Green and Purple. The Red line runs from Northline Transit Center across the city centre to the Astrodome and Fannan South Transit Center; the Green and Purple lines start in the Theater District and run east to Magnolia Park Transit Center and Palm Transit Center respectively. The system totals 38.3km (28.3 miles) and carries more than 75 000 passengers/day. Although LRT infrastructure survived relatively unscathed, all service was suspended when parts of the system saw water levels rise more than 100mm (4in) above the railhead. On 26 August Austin’s Capital Metro Red line services were suspended north of Crestview due to fallen power...
Work begins on the Limmattalbahn

Work begins on the Limmattalbahn

A ground-breaking ceremony was held for the metre-gauge Limmattalbahn tramway at Schlieren on 28 August. The first phase of the Swiss line between Altstetten in Zürich and Geissweid in Schlieren is due to open in the autumn of 2019. A second phase will take the line from Schlieren to Killwangen-Spreitenbach via Dietikon in 2022. The 13.4km (8.3-mile) line is being built by Limmattalbahn AG, a company jointly owned by the cantons of Aargau and Zürich, with co-financing and a CHF755m (EUR661.4m) grant from the federal government (covering one third of project costs). The first phase will be covered by extending VBZ tramline 2 from Altstetten Farbhof to Geissweid, providing a 7.5-minute peak service. This section will be electrified at 600V dc, with the remainder at 1200V dc to permit compatibility with S-Bahn line S17 (Dietikon – Wohlen), which will share tracks between Dietikon and Wohlen. BDWM (formed in 2000 from the merger of the Bremgartern – Dietkon and Wohlen – Mesiterschwanden railway companies), which operates line S17, will also operate the Limmattalbahn for ten years, providing a 15-minute headway with service 05.30-00.30. Fourteen double-ended 45m cars will be ordered to provide the through service, with a depot next to the SBB marshalling yard on the border of the two...

Midland Metro extension fully funded

The Department for Transport confirmed on 1 September that it is to provide GBP59.8m (EUR65m) towards the Edgbaston extension of the Midland Metro; the GBP149m (EUR162.7m) project is now fully-funded. Preliminary work started in the summer on the 2km (1.2-mile), five-stop western extension from Grand Central to Edgbaston, sections of which will be catenary-free. Opening is due in March 2021, with up to ten trams per hour in peak periods. The Iron Man statue in Victoria Square is to be removed to storage for more than a year, alongside the Boulton, Watt and Murdoch statue in Broad Street; both are on or close to the alignment of the Midland Metro extension to Centenary Square. The statues are to be replaced in alternative...
Tallinn builds international connections

Tallinn builds international connections

On 1 September the Estonian capital of Tallinn opened the 1.5km (0.9-mile) extension of tram route 4 to the future Rail Baltica station at Ülemiste and a terminus at Tallinn Lennart Meri Airport. The new route features two stops, a 150m tunnel under the railway and a four-lane road on the approach to the Ülemiste station. It is a key development in the creation of increased international accessibility for the capital region. Service on the new 1067mm-gauge extension operates at six-minute intervals during peak periods. The project has cost EUR11.5m, of which 85% was funded through the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) as part of the Rail Baltica project; the City of Tallinn has funded the remaining 15%. Earlier in the month, RB Rail – which is responsible for the Rail Baltica project to build an 870km (541-mile) standard-gauge 240km/h (149mph) mixed-traffic railway linking the Baltic capitals with Poland and the broader European railway network – invited bids to conduct a feasibility and technical study for a light rail connection from the Old City Harbour/Vanasadam in Tallinn to Ülemiste. The cost of the ambitious Rail Baltica project is estimated at EUR5.79bn, with the EU expected to offer contributions totalling USD4.634bn, and the three national governments in the Baltic region financing the remaining EUR1.154bn. In recent years, Tallinn has extensively modernised its tramway infrastructure with the help of EU funds; track renewal and stop enhancements were an important prerequisite of the introduction of new rolling stock. A fleet of 20 CAF Urbos 2 low-floor trams were introduced into service on the four-line network on 31 March 2015. Rail Baltica project...
Private sector must support Indian metro projects for future funding

Private sector must support Indian metro projects for future funding

The Indian Government approved a new metro policy on 16 August that requires private sector participation for any project seeking a national funding contribution. Faced with an increasing demand for metros in a large number of cities to cater for population and economic growth, the Modi government has said that all projects should benefit from private sector resources, expertise and entrepreneurship. Private sector participation could be for the whole project, or just certain elements such as fare collection or operations and maintenance. Three versions of national funding are offered: a PPP with a contribution under the Ministry of Finance’s Viability Gap Funding; a government grant covering 10% of project costs; and a 50/50 equity share between central and state governments. Metro projects will receive approval only if they achieve a 14% internal rate of return, rather than the 8% rate used until now. There will be mandatory third-party assessment and the government is looking for metro development linked to urban transformation, with comprehensive mobility plans that include Transit Oriented Development. Cities and states must use innovative financing mechanisms such as value capture financing tools and betterment levies to take advantage of any increase in land values around stations. Projects must also include last-mile connectivity for a 5km (three-mile) catchment area around stations. In a move that mirrors the new policy, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is to provide USD500m towards the USD2.22bn cost of Mumbai metro line 4, due for completion in 2021. The 32km (20-mile) elevated line will link Kasarvadavali with Wadala on the north–south alignment; 216 metro cars will be required. However, the policy has been described...

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...