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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...
Tram and metro growth in Wuhan

Tram and metro growth in Wuhan

Passenger operations on the first tramline in the Chinese city of Wuhan began on 28 July. The 16.9km (10.5-mile) T1 route serves the south-west of the city with 23 stops between Deshenggang and Chelun Square, near the southern terminus of metro line 3. Services run between 07.00 and 19.00 at ten-minute headways using a fleet of 21 four-section trams from CRRC Zhuzhou. The 100% low-floor vehicles are 36m long with capacity for 400 passengers – end-to-end journeys take 40 minutes. The trams are equipped with Siemens traction equipment and use supercapacitor energy storage to enable 3-4km (1.9-2.5 miles) of catenary-free operation with recharging at stops via pantograph. In the same city, Zhuzhou CRRC Times Electric has rolled out the first trainset for the 35km (21.7-mile) metro line 21. The 100km/h (62mph)-capable vehicle is equipped for GoA2 automatic operation and features LED lighting that the manufacturer says can provide up to 30% energy savings. It is reported that tunnelling was completed on the second 15.3km (9.5-mile) phase of line 6 on 28 July, despite nearly 1000 workers battling to plug leaks and pump floodwater out of the new line on 16 July. Water poured into the tunnel after days of torrential rain raised water levels; the tunnel is just 300m from the Han River, the Yangtze’s biggest tributary. No casualties were reported. Line 6 has five underground and four elevated stations and is scheduled to open in December, although a surveyor was quoted in local media as saying the flooding might delay the start of passenger service. Stops along lines 2 and 4 were also forced to close as floodwaters rose....
G:link phase two nears completion

G:link phase two nears completion

Construction of the 7.3km (4.5-mile) second stage of the G:link light rail system in Gold Coast, Australia, is now 90% complete. All three station structures are in place and overhead line installation is underway, while a new 1000-capacity park-and-ride at Parkwood station is under construction and 400 new parking spaces will be created at Helensvale station. The first dynamic testing is due to begin in the coming months ahead of the extension’s opening in early 2018. The AUD420m (EUR281m) second phase has been fast-tracked ahead of the city hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games. It is being delivered by GoldlinQ consortium with a AUD270m contribution from the Queensland Government, AUD95m from the national Government and up to AUD55m from the city. The new line will connect to Queensland’s rail network at Helensvale, providing a single-transfer journey to the state capital, Brisbane. G:link currently consists of a single 13km (8.1-mile) line with 16 stops that opened in July 2014, running between Gold Coast University Hospital and Broadbeach South. The system marked its third birthday in July with figures that show record growth for the third consecutive year (a 27% increase since 2014-15), now carrying 665 000 passengers each month. Four additional 43.4m seven-section Bombardier Flexity 2 low-floor trams are being added to the fleet of 14, with the AUD25m (EUR16.7m) option to the original contract confirmed in late November 2015. The state has confirmed it will meet half of the AUD10m (EUR6.7m) costs for preparing a business case for the third phase of the system, a 7km (four-mile) southern extension from Broadbeach to Burleigh...

Sidi Bel Abbès opens for business

Passenger service on the new tramway in Sidi Bel Abbès began on 25 July after an opening ceremony attended by Minister of Transport, Abdelghani Zaalane, Entreprise du Métro d’Alger CEO Aomar Hadbi and President of Alstom in Algeria, Henri Bussery. The city is located in north-western Algeria, 75km (47 miles) inland from Oran which opened its own low-floor tramway in May 2013. With a population of 230 000, the city is possibly most famous as the base of the French Foreign Legion. The new 14.3km (8.9-mile) tramline links the Gare du Nord with the south bus station in the southern suburbs; 30 seven-section Alstom 44m Citadis operate the route, with 22 stops at an average spacing of 700m. The CITRAL-assembled trams feature a golden yellow livery intended to reflect local wheat fields. Infrastructure was built by Turkish contractor Yapi Merkezi at a cost of ALD32bn (EUR245m). The first trial run was made in December 2016. Service is managed by the SETRAM joint venture of RATP Dev and EMA, operator of the country’s other tramways in Algiers, Oran and Constantine; 98 Alstom Citadis are in use across these systems. Work started in June 2013, when it was hoped that passengers would be carried before the end of 2016. Progress was held up by local protests which also delayed the planned opening for Algerian Independence Day (5 July 2017); 62 000 passengers/day are expected to use the system. A second line is planned. Yapi Merkezi is also building the Sétif tramway, a 22.2km (13.8-mile) system that is due to open in two phases, with 27 stops to be created for the...