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Tramlink begins search for automatic braking system

Tramlink begins search for automatic braking system

Transport for London (TfL) is seeking a supplier for a new automatic braking system that would see a London Tramlink vehicle brought to a controlled stop if it exceeded the speed limit at designated high-risk locations. An official Invitation to Tender is expected this summer with a contract placed by the end of October for installation by the end of 2019. Although initially focusing on priority locations suggested by the UK’s Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), the chosen system is required to be flexible enough to be rolled out across the network. The tender includes options over a five-year period for maintenance and additional units; the specification includes a requirement for notification of the system’s control centre in incidents of speeding. Feasibility studies have been in progress since the derailment of tram 2551 at Sandilands on 9 November 2016 that resulted in seven deaths and 51 injuries. The procurement addresses RAIB Recommendation 3 that ‘UK tram operators, owners and infrastructure managers should work together to review, develop and install suitable measures to automatically reduce tram speeds if they approach higher risk locations at speeds which could result in derailment or overturning’. Work continues in evaluating options for improving the containment provided by tram windows and doors to address Recommendation 6, and testing is underway on a new ‘iTram’ system adapted from that used on London Buses (addressing Recommendation 5) to monitor vehicle speed and location as well as provide enhanced real-time passenger...

Metrolink considers zone-based ticketing

A new four-zone ticketing system for Greater Manchester’s Metrolink network is under consideration, Transport for Greater Manchester announced on 21 May. If approved, the changes would take place early next year and could cut the current 8556 stop-to-stop fare combinations to just ten zone-based fares. Customers would be able to use one ticket for unlimited travel within their chosen zones. Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham described the area’s fares and ticketing system as “too complex, too disjointed and in need of an overhaul.” Ahead of any potential change, customers will be able to use contactless payments to tap on and off trams, an innovation that is being rolled our across the network later in the year. Combined bus/tram smart card ticketing has already been introduced. A public consultation exercise on the proposal is set to run ahead of any final decision. This will include an online questionnaire to gather feedback. A number of stops on the network, including Stretford and Brooklands, fall between two zones; fares here would be calculated on the lower zonal cost relative to the direction of...
Auckland transport plan includes light rail

Auckland transport plan includes light rail

A NZD28bn (EUR16.5bn)transport plan for Greater Auckland was launched by Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Mayor Phil Goff on 26 April, heralding the country’s biggest ever civil engineering works programme. Christened ATAP 2018, the plan is “intended to create a 21st Century transport system for the city region” said Mr Twyford. Mr Goff said he hoped “to double the use of public transport over a short period of time”. Included in the package is NZD8.4bn (EUR4.93bn) for rapid transit, including commuter rail enhancements, a light rail system and a busway linking Panmure and Botany. The NZ Government is already financing the NZD1.4bn (EUR822m) 3.4km (2.1-mile) City Rail Link from Britomart under the city centre to Mount Eden. This will convert the suburban rail system to a through operation rather than terminating at the Britomart stub station. Electrification will be extended south from Papakura to Pukekohe. The light rail proposals include a line from the city to the airport (but designed to serve more than airport traffic) and another to serve the Northwest Corridor (City – Lincoln Rd – Kumeu). Both are designed to support population and employment growth, and relieve congestion, with recommended investment of NZD1.8bn (EUR1.06bn). In the longer term there is potential for light rail to the north shore (Albany and Orewa). Design work is already underway. Funding for the plan will come from rates and development contributions (NZD8.45bn/EUR4.96bn), a regional fuel tax (NZD4.4bn/EUR2.6bn), the National Land Transport Fund (NZD16.3bn/EUR9.58bn) and Crown Infrastructure Partners...

Three become one for German metre-gauge order

On 25 April Cottbus City Council (Germany) approved the joint procurement of 20 trams in co-ordination with the transport undertakings in Brandenburg an der Havel and Frankfurt/Oder. Cottbusverkehr is to order seven trams with an option for a further 13; Brandenburg requires four, with an option for eight more. Frankfurt/Oder will order 13. The tendering process is expected to begin this month for the 30m vehicles, with a requirement for a 60% low-floor design and a passenger capacity of 150. All three cities have metre-gauge tramways, which are electrified at 600V dc. It is anticipated that an order can be placed later in 2018 with the first deliveries beginning in 2020. The new fleets are to replace ageing Tatra KTNF6 cars that date from the 1980s in both Cottbus and Brandenburg that are becoming increasingly maintenance intensive. Frankfurt/Oder is likely to take a similar approach, removing some of its 1980s KT4D cars. As 75% of Cottbusverkehr passengers use the tram, more intensive services rely on fleet availability and this has become a significant challenge. Additionally, changes to the law require full accessibility of public transport in Brandenburg from 1 January 2022; the Land of Brandenburg has committed EUR48m for investment in barrier-free public transport by this date. The order could be worth EUR120m if all the options for up to 45 trams are...
Zürich gets its first look at new Flexity design

Zürich gets its first look at new Flexity design

A full-scale mock-up of the front two sections of the 43m Bombardier Flexity 2 tram design for VBZ was unveiled at Altstetten works on 24 April. The wooden mock-up will be used to consult with staff and passengers to finalise all aspects before delivery of the first two prototypes (4001/2) at the end of 2019 (in time for the Christmas lights according to VBZ director Guido Schoch). Fleet delivery and passenger service with the single-ended cars will come in 2020, with the order completed in 2021. VBZ has ordered 70 of the seven-section trams for CHF358m (EUR300m), with an option for a further 70. The exterior and interior design was developed by Bombardier and VBZ in collaboration with Milani Design & Consulting of Thalwil, using high-quality natural material, including Zürich’s traditional wooden seats. A striking external feature is LED lighting strips each side of the headlights as turn indicators and each side of the doors, which will pulse green at stops and red to indicate closing. Handrails are polished steel. There are 91 seats and space for 187 standing and each tram will have two areas for wheelchairs or buggies. Seats will have USB charging points. Drivers will benefit from the assistance  system developed by Bombardier to warn of track obstructions. Delays during the evaluation and placing of the order (tenders were first invited in 2019) mean that the city’s Tram 2000 cars have had a three-year reprieve; withdrawal will now start in 2020. However the extension of line 2 from Farbhof to Schlieren in December 2019 will require two vehicles from the reserve...
Midland Metro launches the UK’s wire-free tram era

Midland Metro launches the UK’s wire-free tram era

Friday 20 April saw the first use of a modern battery-operated tram in passenger service in the UK; Midland Metro Urbos 3 18 now uses onboard power for part of each journey despite the current 21km (13-mile) Birmingham – Wolverhampton line being equipped with overhead lines. The CAF-built tram has been retrofitted with two roof-mounted lithium-ion cells, recharged from the wires. Catenary-free sections are to include the city centre extensions in Birmingham (due for completion in 2019) and Wolverhampton (2020), with later wire-free running to come on the lines to Edgbaston (2021) and Birmingham Eastside (2023). The future Wednesbury – Brierley Hill route may also feature wire-free sections. Retrofitting of tram 18 was undertaken by CAF in Spain in 2017, but the rest of the 21-strong fleet will have the work completed at Wednesbury depot with the first conversion being undertaken on car 31. The latest figures for the network report a 9% decrease in passenger numbers for the month of January (597 326 in 2018 compared to 653 035 in January 2017). Over the full year, ridership across the network was down 1%. The drop in passengers is largely ascribed to the closure of Bilston Road for renewals between June and December 2017. The WMCA report also revealed that punctuality had worsened in December and January due to ‘driver availability issues’; six new drivers have been undertaking training in...