Alstom/Thales win €330m HK CBTC deal

A consortium of Alstom and Thales has won a €330 million contract from MTR Corporation, Hong Kong, to resignal seven metro lines with Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) signalling.

The companies will provide Automatic Train Supervision, interlocking and Automatic Train Control in the control centre, trains and station. Thales’ SelTrac CBTC system will be installed, reflecting its role as technical lead in the partnership, while Alstom is responsible for project management and supply of remote trackside equipment controllers.

Alstom scoops €100m Egyptian signalling deal

Alstom is to upgrade signalling on Egyptian National Railways’ 240km Beni Suef-Asyut line in a €100 million contract which includes a five-year maintenance element. Delivery will start in 2016 with completion of installation works due in January 2019.

Alstom will install Smartlock electronic interlockings to replace the existing electromechanical devices, in addition to trackside equipment, power supplies and telecommunications. The installation is expected to increase line capacity by more than 80%.

Egyptian National Railways plans to upgrade signalling across its network and improve safety to what Alstom describes as ‘international standards’.

Alstom supplies ERTMS to Romania

An Alstom led consortium is to supply European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) equipment for Romanian National Railways (CFR)’ 170km Sighișoara-Coșlariu-Simeria route.

Alstom’s Atlas 200 ERTMS Level 2 signalling will be installed and linespeeds on the line will rise from 120km/h to 160km/h as part of the ongoing modernisation. Alstom will also supply a dual-mode Coradia Polyvalent train to test the installation. Work is due to be completed before the end of 2019.

The consortium includes Alcatel Lucent Romania and Pas 97 Impex and although the total value of the contract has not been disclosed Alstom says its share is worth around €100 million. Alstom’s ERTMS projects now cover 12,500km of track and it has fitted more than 4,600 vehicles with its onboard equipment.

France clears GE/Alstom power and signalling deal

Alstom is to acquire GE Transportation’s signalling business for $800 million as part of a complex deal which sees the American giant gain most of Alstom’s energy assets.

Since GE made its bid around two months ago Siemens and Mistubishi Heavy Industries have pushed hard with a counter-offer, but following the agreement of French construction company Bouygues to loan 20% of Alstom shares (it holds 29.3%) on June 22 the way is clear for GE to conclude its deal. Bouygues will surrender its two board seats, effectively making the French government the main shareholder. The government is being loaned the shares for 20 months, during which time it can buy the shares at a 2-5% discount if the stock market price is €35 or greater.

GE Transportation’s signalling portfolio is comprehensive, with ERTMS, CBTC and Positive Train Control systems and a range of associated equipment including interlockings, train detection and operational control centres.

From Alstom’s point of view, while it loses much of its energy business it retains its system-wide capabilities in rail, and will have a much greater presence in the North American market. It also means that concerns about France’s flagship TGV trains being built by a foreign company are in abeyance. Subject to regulatory approval the deal with GE is expected to be concluded early next year.

It is another deal which shrinks the number of suppliers in the signalling sector, however. How will it affect the market? Let us know your thoughts…

Alstom-Bombardier-Indra consortium wins Spanish HSR signalling contract

Spanish track authority ADIF has awarded a €410 million contract to supply and maintain European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) Level 2 signalling on the new North-West high-speed line to a consortium of Alstom, Bombardier and Indra.

The contract, whose maintenance element lasts for 20 years, covers the 310km of new high-speed railway from Valladolid to Leon, and Venta de Banos to Burgos. The consortium is responsible for design, procurement, installation and commissioning of the signalling, fixed and GSM-R telecommunications, Automatic Train Protection, centralised traffic control, security, and infrastructure for trains and mobile telephone operators.

It will be Spain’s second ERTMS Level 2 installation without ERTMS Level 1 backup, which Alstom claims offers a ‘significant reduction in the initial cost of civil works’.

Alstom consortium scoops Sardinian signalling deal

An Alstom led consortium is to supply and install signalling systems on two routes in Sardinia in a contract worth €33 million for Sardinia Regional Transport Authority (ARST). The routes – Monserrato-Senorbi and Macomer-Nuoro – have a combined length of 90km and the project is expected to be completed in 2015.

Alstom's Iconis integrated control centre technology will be installed on two routes in Sardinia. Credit: Alstom

Alstom’s Iconis integrated control centre technology will be installed on two routes in Sardinia. Credit: Alstom

Alstom’s Smartlock and Iconis control centre technology form the bedrock of the new installation which will see a computerised multi-station interlocking and traffic management system at the control centres on each line. The contract also involves level crossing, passenger information, video surveillance and security equiipment.

A 100% increase in capacity on the Monserrato-Isli line and a 70% increase on the Macomer-Nuoro line are exected when the new signalling is commissioned. The contract showcases the potential for modern signalling systems to provide a step change increase in capacity on regional routes, and Sardinia could well become a showcase for the capability of the latest signalling and train control technology.

Australia’s big signalling dilemma

Australia faces a real dilemma when it comes to next generation signalling on its busiest routes, with two systems competing for dominance – European Train Control System (ETCS), and Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Train Management System (ATMS).

Following the example of Auckland, New Zealand, a host of Australian cities are either installing or considering ETCS for their commuter networks. Adelaide is already installing ETCS on around 120 route-km with Siemens Invensys Rail equipment, and the first ETCS fitted trains are due to run in Sydney this year, covering around 600 route-km with Alstom equipment. Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth also have aspirations to fit ETCS to increase capacity and improve safety.

However, elsewhere in Australia, particularly on the busy Hunter Valley network which is largely dedicated to freight, Australian Rail Track Corporation has opted for Lockheed Martin’s ATMS, which works on similar principles and has similar benefits in terms of potential capacity enhancements.

While the commuter and Hunter Valley networks are separate, having two different signalling systems is not a major issue, but when interstate routes – particularly those with frequent passenger services – are resignalled, there could a problem. A single signalling system would potentially allow greater journey opportunities and would certainly offer better integration and traffic management, and require fewer control centres. Bear in mind that at present, ETCS and ATMS are not compatible.

A further potential issue is Australia’s proposed high-speed rail network, which will run between Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. Again, if operated in isolation whether it runs under ETCS or ATMS is irrelevant, but if trains run beyond the HSR network to classic routes as they do in the likes of France, compatibility issues could pose a huge problem. Although trains can be fitted with both signalling systems, this increases maintenance requirements and operational complexity and can be easily avoided by opting for just one system.

It is early days for modern Communications Based Train Control signalling in Australia, but with two different standards already in prospect, the country’s rail managers need to seriously consider whether a single signalling system would outweigh the potential operating headaches that lie ahead if ETCS and ATMS are both in operation.

Japan seeks foreign CBTC advice

This from our friends at International Railway Journal… is this the first case of Japanese Railways seeking foreign companies to provide signalling advice? Either way, the march of CBTC for commuter rail networks seems relentless, to the benefit of passengers and railways alike…

JR East in talks over Tokyo CBTC Project

ALSTOM and Thales have been selected by JR East to negotiate a contract to install communications-based train control (CBTC) on the Ayase – Toride Joban Local suburban line in Tokyo with a view to awarding a contract to one of the companies in December. JR East plans to introduce CBTC on the line in about 2020.

JR East says it wants to “drastically change and improve” its Tokyo suburban network through “innovations that incorporate a conceptual breakthrough and are completely free from conventional ways of thinking.” JR East says is keen to achieve innovations in technology, by eliminating track circuits and reducing the number of cables, as well as operational innovations such as bi-directional running. JR East started the tender process in June 2012, and the following month received expressions of interest from 10 manufacturers in both Japan and overseas, which were then invited to submit proposals by the end of October.

Gearing up for InnoTrans

Crowds at InnoTrans 2010

InnoTrans 2012 is set to be the biggest and most spectacular rail exhibition yet.

With less than a week to go the whole world’s rail industry is gearing up for InnoTrans in Berlin, and signalling and train control are set to play a major part in the show.

As ERTMS/ETCS and Positive Train Control are now at a much greater level of technical maturity than even at 2010’s exhibition, it seems likely that the focus of signalling and train control suppliers will be on incremental improvements to existing product ranges, and on their mix of services. We can also expect progress on the latest and most challenging metro, conventional and high-speed rail projects to play a major part in company presentations.

As one would expect, the world’s major companies are there – including sponsor Invensys Rail – all showcasing their latest developments. A larger than ever array of Asian exhibitors will be there too, capitalising on the strong growth in rail services across the continent. will be blogging live from InnoTrans throughout the show to highlight the best in signalling technologies: keep abreast of developments via the webpage, or our twitter feed at railsignals.