Algerian JV scores double-tracking contract

A joint venture of Algerian National Railways (SNTF) and Siemens – ESTEL RA – has won a €95 million contract to upgrade the 90km Beni Mansour to Bejaia line with double track and European Train Control System Level 1 signalling.

Siemens will supply its Trainguard 100 train protection system, Vicos automatic operations control system, nine Simis W electronic interlockings, GSM-R radio and RailCom Manager communications management system. Siemens will also provide equipment for a control centre in Bejaia and training for Algerian Railways staff.

Siemens has provided ETCS for Algeria in the past, as well as Line 1 of the Algiers Metro.

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.

Siemens-Thales install Automatic Train Protection on Spanish high-speed railway

A consortium of Siemens and Thales is to install signalling on Spain’s 126km high-speed railway between Antequera and Granada in a contract worth €210 million from Spanish infrastructure manager ADIF.

Siemens will supply European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2 and ASFA automatic train protection systems, jointless track circuits and signals. The company will also upgrade the Cordoba to Malaga route to ETCS Level 2 as part of the project. Other equipment being installed by the consortium includes telecommunication and traffic management systems, in addition to maintenance over a 20-year period.

The new railway will enable direct connections between Granada and Malaga, Cordoba, Seville and Madrid, improving rail links in Andalusia and beyond. Both companies have extensive experience in Spain on its domestic and high-speed rail networks.

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…

Cities MUST invest in transport infrastructure, study claims

Cities around the world stand to gain economic benefits of up to $US 800 billion by 2030 if they upgrade their transport networks to global ‘best in class’ standards, a new study claims.

The Mobility Opportunity: Improving Public Transport to Drive Economic Growth (summary here) studies 35 cities around the world, split into mature, high-density compact centre, and developing and assesses the transport networks of each – and the potential benefits that could be gained by investing in road and rail infrastructure, vehicles, and services.

Copenhagen, Denmark, was rated the best city of all, praised for its high density automated metro, integrated payments and encouragement of modal shift towards cycling in particular. Singapore was regarded as the best high-density compact centre with its high capacity system, long term planning and under construction Downtown Metro, and Santiago, Chile, the best emerging city thanks to its metro network, integrated payment system and long term plans.

The biggest challenge many cities face, suggests the report, is ensuring there is sufficient transport capacity to meet growing demand to 2030. It recommends different solutions depending on the wealth and size of particular cities: developing cities may be able to achieve more, for example, with better road traffic management and bus services than a single expensive metro line. For compact centres and established cities, beyond capacity issues, areas such as better integrated and electronic ticketing, modern signalling systems, and provision of onboard WiFi are all suggested as worthwhile improvements.

The recommendations and comparisons within the study – which was  commissioned by Siemens but conducted independently by strategy consultant Credo – may well be the first time such comparisons have been made on a global scale. If its findings are correct – and if cities act on them – we could be set to see a large scale increase in urban transport investment to begin reaping those claimed $US 800 billiion of economic benefits.

Siemens tests ETCS Baseline 3 Onboard in Switzerland

ETCS Baseline 3 was successfully tested by Siemens, SBB and BLS in April. Credit: Siemens

ETCS Baseline 3 was successfully tested by Siemens, SBB and BLS in April. Credit: Siemens

Siemens, Swiss Federal Railway (SBB) and BLS tested European Train Control System (ETCS) Baseline 3 Onboard software functionality betwen April 12 and April 28 using an ETCS Level 2 fitted locomotive uploaded with the latest software for the first time on a commercial railway.

Baseline 3 improves interoperability of equipment and includes the new ETCS Level Limited Supervision mode. This is an important pre-requisite for widespread implementation of ETCS on European Rail Corridors.

The test’s objectives were to prove ETCS Level 2 and Level 1 Limited Supervision operation on the existing network, demonstrate backwards compatibility of Baseline 3 onboard systems with Baseline 2 equipped lines and confirm the stability of Siemens’ Baseline 3 software. All test scenarios were completed successfully, and the inevitable minor changes needed identified for rectification.

The move towards Baseline 3 coincides with a new Technical Standard for Interoperability which will see the present 2.3.0D superceded by the newer software later this year.

Thales and Siemens win Spanish ERTMS contract

A consortium of Thales and Siemens has won a major new contract to supply signalling and train control equipment on a 50km section of the Leon-Asturias high-speed line from Spanish track authority ADIF.

Siemens is set to supply Spain’s national standard ASFA equipment on the 50km section between La Robla and Pola de Lena to allow commercial operation of the route to begin, while Thales will provide European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) Level 2 technology to provide for operations at up to 350km/h.

Siemens and Thales both have extensive experience in Spain, with a number of high profile and successful ERTMS installations on the country’s expansive high-speed rail network.

Hungary’s new Metro Line 4 marks a major milestone

Central Europe’s first CBTC automated metro opened on March 28 in the form of Budapest’s Line 4, marking a major milestone in Hungary, as Andrew Roden reveals.

When the first passengers travelled on Budapest Metro’s Line 4 it marked the culmination of an eight year programme to link the Southern boroughs of Buda with the centre of Pest, and the busy Kelenföld and Keleti pályaudvar stations. After being discussed for decades, a vital transport link in Hungary’s capital is now complete, with journey times of less than 25 minutes, a top speed of 80km/h for the Alstom Metropolis trains, and a 90-second headway at peak times.

Budapest's Metro Line 4 is now open.

Budapest’s Metro Line 4 is now open.

Construction – as with any underground railway – was something of a challenge. Two 7.34km single bore tunnels carry the tracks and associated structures, and although much of the route is fairly close to the surface, as it approaches the River Danube it dives down to a depth of 30m below ground. Turnouts are provided at the terminal stations to allow trains to begin their return journeys and there is also a crossover at Szent Gellért tér – one of 10 stations on the route – to allow a reduced service to operate in the event of train or infrastructure failures. A maintenance depot at Kelenföld incorporates an eight-storey control tower and offices. It is potentially possible for trains to be prepared before and powered down after duty remotely, though whether this is introduced is at the moment under consideration.

Supervised operation

Siemens was tasked with installing and commissioning power supply, signalling, Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) and communication systems on the line, and although for the first year the trains will operate in supervised mode with a driver ready to intervene if needed, it is widely expected that fully automated unsupervised operations will start in 2015.

The power supply network had to be particularly resilient to meet the demanding fire safety requirements on Metro Line 4: a special 10kV fire retardant and resistant cable was developed by Siemens and its partners, while switchgear cells were designed with an armoured structure to protect operators should the cells malfunction. The system was designed from the outset for regenerative braking from trains, which offers potentially significant cuts in power consumption, though the exact figure depends heavily on the characteristics of the railway in question.

Protecting passengers

The CBTC installation – complete with TETRA radios – is fairly straightforward for a metro of this type, but one unusual aspect is provision of Passenger Protection Equipment. This radar based system detects when a passenger falls from a station platform onto the tracks (there are no platform screen doors) and cuts the power supply to trains. Integrated communications link supervisory and operational systems with train control, signalling and power supply sub-systems.

With Metro Line 4 now running, attention is now turning to the proposed 7km extension of Metro Line 1, extension of tram line 1, and improvements to that and tram line 3. With Metro Line 4 now open and CBTC in operation on Metro Line 3, Budapest’s transport network is undergoing a major upgrade that looks set to help this beautiful and historic city meet passenger demands for some time to come.





Signalling news this week – ETCS for ICEs, and South Africa signs Gauteng upgrade deal

With less than four weeks until the end of the year, two major new signalling and train control announcements have been made in Germany and South Africa.

DB is inviting tenders for the equipment of ICE1 power cars with onboard ETCS equipment. Credit: DB

DB is inviting tenders for the equipment of ICE1 power cars with onboard ETCS equipment. Credit: DB

Deutsche Bahn – a railway whose enthusiasm for European Train Control System has been rather muted compared with its neighbours – is inviting tenders to fit ETCS onboard equipment to 80 ICE1 Electric Multiple Unit power cars with a potential option for a further 38 to be fitted. Although DB’s use of ETCS is relatively small, the ICE1s operate extensively to Switzerland and Austria, which are both rolling out the signalling system nationally.

Siemens, meanwhile, is to install new signalling and train control systems in the Gauteng region of South Africa in a €180 million contract to be finished by 2018. Having already installed up to date signalling on a quarter of the Gauteng network, it will now install 83 Trackguard Sicas S7 interlockings, Clearguard ACM 200 axle counting equipment, and a track vacancy detection system to determine whether track sections are clear. It’s the latest in a series of South African deals for Siemens, which has also won contracts from Transnet Freight Rail to upgrade the 860km Orex iron-ore line with Trackguard Sicas S7 interlockings.

Siemens and Bombardier upgrade New York commuter lines

A consortium of Siemens Rail Automation and Bombardier Transportation is to develop, test and commission Positive Train Control (PTC) signalling on the USA’s busiest two commuter railways in a contract worth USD 428 million if all options are exercised.

Long Island Railroad has just finished restoring Queens Village station - but its signalling is set for a far more radical makeover. Credit: MTA Long Island Railroad

Long Island Railroad has just finished restoring Queens Village station – but its signalling is set for a far more radical makeover. Credit: MTA Long Island Railroad

Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) awarded the deal for the upgrade of the North Railroad and Long Island Railroad in New York State with completion scheduled for 2019. In common with other PTC systems, the installation will see trains monitored extensively to prevent overspeeding and passing signals at danger. It also offers a significant potential increase in network capacity over the 1100 track-km long routes.

Bombardier will be responsible for system integration, project management and design, and supply control centre subsystems while Siemens is responsible for onboard equipment and modification of existing signalling equipment.