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December change sees new European tramlines

The annual timetable change of 10 December saw the usual list of additions to tramway networks across Europe. The first 4.6km (2.85 miles) of the Luxembourg tramway from Luxexpo to Pafendall-Rout Bréck on the plateau of Kirchberg was inaugurated using nine of the 32 double-ended 45m CAF trams that are being delivered. The line will be extended further west to Etoile in the spring and to the city’s Central Station (with 3.6km of catenary-free operation) in 2019. By 2021 the line will extend to 16.4km (Findel–Cloche d’Or). Sunday 10 December also saw Innsbruck line 3 extended by 3km (1.9 miles) from Höttinger Au/West to Technik West and Peerhofsiedlung (trams run alternately to each terminus). In the Swiss city of Basel, line 3 was extended from Burgfelden Grenze to Gare de St-Louis in France, adding a further international line to the network. In Switzerland’s largest city, Zürich line 8 was extended from Hardplatz over the Hardbrücke road bridge to Hardbrücke station and on to Werdhölzli via Escher-Wysss Platz. Stuttgart extended line U12 1.2km (0.75 miles) from Hallschlag to Wagrainäcker. The upper station at Staatsgalerie and subway to Charlottenplatz were reopened. In Düsseldorf, the Rheinbahn is extending line 1 from Rath to Am Hülserhof (1.8km/1.1...
Dublin opens Luas Cross City line

Dublin opens Luas Cross City line

The 5.9km (3.7-mile) Luas Cross City line from St. Stephen’s Green to Broombridge in Ireland’s capital was to open on 9 December. The new 13-stop route is being operated as an extension of the Green line with a basic service running from Bride’s Glen to the city centre, where alternate trams will turn on the one-way section between O’Connell Street Upper and Parnell Street, with remaining trams proceeding to Broombridge. Construction of the line began in June 2013, with the EUR386m project completed to time and budget; major works were completed this summer and operator Transdev has recruited 29 new drivers for the service. By 16 November the first of eight nine-section Alstom Citadis 502 trams (5027) had been received for the extension, with six more to follow. At nearly 55m long, they are amongst the longest trams in the world (as well as being the longest-ever Citadis variant) and platform lengthening works have been completed to accommodate them. The EUR36.5m tram order was placed by Transport Infrastructure Ireland in 2015 with the first due to enter service in February 2018. An additional 1760 passengers per hour are expected in each direction on the extended Green line and Ireland’s government approved a further EUR100m to expand Sandyford depot and lengthen the existing 26 Green line Citadis trams to nine sections (an additional 12m) in November. Recent surveys by the National Transport Authority (NTA) show that the Green line is operating at capacity in peak periods, with crowding taking place between the stops at Balally and Ranelagh. In order to promote use of the Luas Cross City line, the NTA...
UK announces GBP1.7bn ‘Transforming Cities Fund’

UK announces GBP1.7bn ‘Transforming Cities Fund’

A new GBP1.7bn (EUR1.9bn) ‘Transforming Cities Fund’ (TCF) was launched by the UK Government in November, with the news that GBP250m would be allocated to the West Midlands “for better transport”. Prime Minister Theresa May made the announcement on 20 November. West Midlands Mayor Andy Street confirmed that the money will be used to extend Midland Metro from Wednesbury, through Dudley town centre, to the ‘DY5’ enterprise zone in Brierley Hill. The 11km (seven-mile) route has 17 planned stops (including four provisional stops) and will largely run along the formation of a disused rail line. Mr Street said the importance of the extension “is difficult to overstate,” adding that “this has been a long time coming – many decades in fact. “We now begin looking at the next projects we want to fund, with the extension of the Metro to Eastside to connect with the HS2 station at Curzon and the reopening of the Camp Hill line very much in our sights.” Once the new line is open, expected for 2023, it is intended that Dudley commuters will be 40 minutes in travel time from the new Curzon Street station. Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling visited Nottingham on TCF launch day: “Investment in transport is crucial to a strong and resilient economy. The Transforming Cities Fund will drive productivity and growth in cities where this is most needed, connecting communities and making it quicker and easier for people to get around.” “We have already seen the impact of better integrated transport links for both passengers and the local economy in cities like Nottingham and Manchester. This new fund...
European tram-train alliance formed

European tram-train alliance formed

The Verband Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen (VDV – Association of German Transport Operators) and seven transport undertakings from across Germany and Austria have set up a joint group to procure tram-train LRVs to drive efficiencies of scale for new rolling stock. VDV TramTrain embraces Karlsruhe operators VBK and AVG, Saarbahn, KVG in Kassel, Ems–Neckar Bahn, Regionaltangente West in Frankfurt/Main, and Schiene Oberösterrreich from Austria. The group, led by AVG’s Thorsten Erlenkötter, plans to tender and procure up to 300 tram-train LRVs under a framework contract in 2018-24. Of these, 180 are planned for delivery to VBK and AVG, with four prototypes expected by 2021. The group’s formation brings to fruition discussions dating back to 2009 as German operators noted the disparity when placing orders compared to comparable heavy rail alternatives. VDV TramTrain will now attempt to obtain better value for money rather than each operator placing small orders, which currently come in around EUR6m per car. VDV TramTrain is now preparing specifications for a uniform bodyshell, safety components and traction system, with options for platform heights, door configurations and axle weights to suit each system. There would be a common authorisation process for tram and train operation – Betriebsordnung Strassenbahn (BOStrab) and Eisenbahnbetriebsordnung (EBO). It is estimated that joint procurement could achieve cost savings of EUR1m per vehicle. Once a common platform is established, resulting orders should also be delivered more swiftly, bringing associated time and cost savings, according to Project Manager Mr Erlenkötter. “One can collect common spare parts, consult with common experts, create a vehicle reserve and last but not least strengthen the negotiating position with the manufacturers,” he...

Thailand to launch four LRT projects in 2018

The Thai Government has announced that light rail projects in four cities could begin construction in 2018, representing an investment of over THB100bn (EUR2.6bn). Transport Minister Arkhom Termpitayapaisith said the projects are cornerstones of the Transport Ministry’s 2018 infrastructure plan, part of the wider ‘Thailand 4.0’ smart cities initiative to integrate digital technology, energy efficiency and sustainable transport. Public-Private Partnership (PPP)schemes are envisaged to be applied for the four projects. Mr Termpitayapaisith said the most advanced is the 60km (37-mile) regional network for Phuket (population 392 000), for which feasibility studies and design work have been completed. With an estimated cost of THB24bn (EUR619m), this 23-stop route would link Tha Nun in Phangnga province to Phuket airport and Phuket airport to the inner city. Financing options are currently under investigation with construction tendering expected in the second half of 2018. It is expected that this project will be included in the government’s PPP fast-track scheme. The University of Chiang Mai has also completed studies for the largest city in northern Thailiand, developing two LRT options. The first covers a 35km (21.7-mile) network of three routes (a 12km Red line, a 11km Green line and a 12km Blue line) with both at-grade and underground sections at a cost of THB107bn (EUR2.76bn). A second 40.6km (25.2-mile) plan (15.7km Red line, 11.1km Green line and 13.8km Blue line) featuring at-grade and elevated alignments is costed at THB28.9bn (EUR745m). Reviews of both proposals were expected in December. In Khon Kaen, environmental impact assessments for a THB15bn (EUR387m) 22.6km (14-mile) line are being finalised. The plan for this city in the east of the...

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...