Siemens consortium wins €510m Spain signalling deal

A Siemens/Thales consortium has won a €510 million contract from Spanish Track Authority ADIF to install and maintain signalling, train control and communications systems on the 340km Olmedo-Ourense high-speed line.

Siemens will provide interlockings, Spain’s ASFA train control system and control centres, with Thales supplying European Train Control System Level 2 equipment, LED colour light signals, wheel detectors and axle counters, and fixed communications equipment.

The route connects with the Madrid to Valladolid high-speed line at Olmeda and forms part of a corridor connecting Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Castile and Leon with Madrid.

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.

On track to beat Autumn signalling problems?

In the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year, the leaf fall season has traditionally posed major problems for railways, and it exposes the crucial interface between train operation and infrastructure for all to see.

The slippery properties of compressed leaf mulch on railheads are well known and – these days – understood. The primary risk is undoubtedly a train losing adhesion as it brakes for a signal check and passing the signal at danger and out of control. But another more insidious problem occurs when a buildup of mulch insulates the rails and prevents track circuits from operating effectively. This can give rise to trains disappearing from signalling displays or simply not registering that they have passed a signal. The failsafe nature of signalling – that a train is not allowed into a section ahead unless it can be proved to be clear – means that mishaps are unlikely, but it adds another potential headache for rail operators.

Thankfully, with the problems well understood, the solutions seem to be working well this year with few indications of undue delay: a combination of defensive driving techniques, water cannons clearing railheads and proprietary solutions applied to rails are gradually defeating the problems caused by leaf fall. Increasing replacement of track circuits with axle counters is also undoubtedly having an effect in improving the reliability and consistency of train detection.

Sceptics may suggest that the obvious solution is to chop down all trees near operational railways but ownership and conservation issues make this a non-starter in most countries. The reality is that a combination of proactive infrastructure management to limit the causes and rapid reactive measures to target known ‘hotspots’ is the best most railways can hope for. On the evidence so far this year they appear to be doing a good job.

Siemens wins Chinese metro signalling contract

Siemens is to supply Trainguard MT Automatic Train Operation equipment to China’s Xi’An Metro Line 3 in a €28 million contract. The 39km long route has 26 stations and will link the northern and western areas of the city.

The company, which sponsors, equipped the city’s Line 1 for automatic operation last year. Data is transferred between signalling centre and train by Siemens’ Airlink radio transmission system.

Trainguard is amongst the most widely used Automatic Train Operation systems in the world, with successful installations in Beijing, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Chongqing and Nanjing. Metros under construction in Qingdao, Dongguan and Fuzhou are also set to use Trainguard MT.

Bombardier wins Ethiopian ERTMS contract

Bombardier Transportation has €36 million contract to provide European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) signalling for Ethiopia’s 400km Awash-Weldia line, which is due to open in 2015.

The contract was awarded by Yapi Merkezi, Turkey, which is designing and construction of the project, and will see Bombardier supply Interflo 250 systems for the route. Using ERTMS will provide the railway with proven off-the-shelf Automatic Train Control and train management systems and represents one of the first uses of such technology in sub-Saharan Africa.

Bombardier has already supplied signalling equipment for the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link and Durban’s Main Corridors in South Africa.

Alstom and Siemens scoop signalling deals

Siemens is to upgrade the signalling and depot operations control centre of Buenos Aires’ Subway Line C in a €30 million contract. The company will also install a new passenger information system on the 5km route. Automatic operation is provided via Trainguard MT Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) while the Controlguide Vicos operations control system monitors trains. Radio transmissions are handled by Siemens’ Airlink technology. The upgrade will take place without interruption of normal service and commissioning is planned for the end of 2016.

A further contract for Siemens will see it supply signalling and train control systems for Korean Rail’s 23km Sosa to Wonsi line in a €20 million contract for Hyundai Information Technology. The route, which is under construction, is part of the Northern Orbital railway around Seoul and will serve 13 stations. It will diverge from the existing Seoul to Incheon line at Bucheon. As with Buenos Aires, Trainguard MT will provide Automatic Train Operation and the route will also be fitted for European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 1 operation to allow mainline and commuter trains to share the same tracks.

Completing a week of major signalling contracts, Alstom is to supply ETCS onboard equipment to Belgian National Railways (SNCB) and German Rail (DB). The Belgian contract is worth €70 million and will see the company supply and maintain Atlas 200 equipment on 449 trains of five types. SNCB will install the equipment from 2016. In Germany, Alstom is supplying onboard ETCS equipment for 40 ICE 1 trains in a €23 million deal with an option to fit a further 19 sets.

InnoTrans shows maturity of railway signalling

InnoTrans continues to grow - and it confirms the increasing confidence of the global rail industry. Credit: InnoTrans

InnoTrans continues to grow – and it confirms the increasing confidence of the global rail industry. Credit: InnoTrans

A short-notice family commitment meant that was sadly unable to attend InnoTrans in Berlin this week – but we’ve been keeping an eye on the events and stories. What seems striking is that while there were rolling stock and infrastructure developments galore, game-changing innovations in signalling were few.

Of course the major companies, including sponsor Siemens presented their latest innovations and contract successes, but whereas six years ago advances in the likes of European Train Control System (ETCS), Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) and Positive Train Control (PTC) technology were plentiful, this year it could almost be considered a case of ‘business as usual’.

For infrastructure owners, train operators and governments this is a hugely important shift in emphasis. Whether for metro, conventional or high-speed rail, signalling technology in all of the key areas is now of a high level of technological maturity, safety and reliability. The risk of opting for a given provider or technology only to find that months later the previous best has been superseded by something significantly more capable has been lowered substantially. The organisations who plan, fund and build railways can now have total confidence that the system they choose is genuinely going to be capable for its expected lifespan. Removal of that element of doubt (however slight) means that the focus can be on delivering the best possible transport systems for passengers and freight customers.

And this matters a great deal. The ongoing expansion of InnoTrans speaks volumes about an industry with growing confidence in its products and services, and of its increasingly important role in solving the world’s transportation problems. After more than a decade of development and innovation, the signalling and train control systems that will run our railways for the next generation and beyond have reached technological maturity. 2014 could go down as a landmark year in railway history for that reason alone.

What innovations stood out for you at InnoTrans? Let us know via the comments form and we’ll publish the very best of them in a future update.

Iran deploys Automatic Train Control system’s friends at International Railway Journal report that Iranian Islamic Republic Railways (RAI) has completed installation of an Automatic Train Control (ATC) system between Tehran and Mashhad.

IRJ says fibre-optic telecommunications and balises on most of the 926km line, with audio frequency track circuits for train detection at stations and other key locations.

RAI has an ongoing programme of safety improvements, and expects to complete ATC installation at 461 stations next year. It has fitted 80 locomotives and 10 Diesel Multiple Units with ATC onboard equipment.

US Senate slams rail delays

Rail congestion is costing United States industry and agriculture hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation this week.

Rail customers in North America are suffering from network congestion - but what's the best way of  funding the improvements needed? Credit: Union Pacific.

Rail customers in North America are suffering from network congestion – but what’s the best way of funding the improvements needed? Credit: Union Pacific.

Senator John Thune expressed serious concerns about the impact of delays on the rail network, saying: “In all my years of working on rail matters, I have never seen producers more concerned than they are now regarding their restricted capability to move grain to market.”

“It is my hope that this hearing will continue to bring attention to the rail service backlogs that South Dakota shippers, and shippers nationwide, are currently facing, and encourage continued discussion about both short-term and long-term solutions to address these issues.”

The committee’s concerns carry weight, but perhaps they also reflect that the big Class 1 railroads are – to an extent – the victims of their own success: if traffic levels were lower, route congestion would be too.

The solutions are straightforward in principle: more infrastructure where it is needed most, and the rollout of Positive Train Control (PTC) to provide much needed extra capacity on existing routes. The challenge for railroads across North America is the same faced by their counterparts all around the world – funding.

Given the importance of heavy-haul freight in particular to the United States, perhaps central funding on a national network basis represents the best solution. One is sure – the  the railways must work together on the network improvements so clearly needed.

Thales wins major Indian ETCS deal

Southern Railway, India, has selected Thales to install European Train Control System Level 1 signalling on a 66km stretch of line between Basin Bridge and Arakkonam. The value of the contract has not been disclosed.

ETCS is known in India as Train Protection and Warning System (not to be confused with the UK system, which is older and less capable), and this contract is the latest step in large-scale efforts to modernise the country’s heavily used railway network,

Thales will design, supply, install and commission lineside equipment, as well as guaranteeing compatibiltiy with onboard units, which are supplied by another company. Its Managing Director for India, Eric Lenseigne, says: “This contract, which will increase the efficiency and operational safety of this stretch, further cements our position in the Indian transportation market. As a trusted partner, we will continue to accompany the development of India’s transport infrastructure.”