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ERL Deepavali Kolam at KL Sentral

MALAYSIA: Express Rail Link (ERL) has partnered with Lashini.my, a one-stop marketplace for fashion and lifestyle, to host a diversity-inspired Deepavali Kolam at the KLIA Ekspres Arrival Hall located within KL Sentral Station in celebration of the Festival of Lights this year.

As a highlight of the Kolam unveiling, the Deputy Director General (Planning) of Tourism Malaysia, Yang Berusaha Encik Zulkifly bin Md Said, who was representing Yang Berhormat Datuk Mohamaddin bin Ketapi, The Honourable Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, was invited to light a traditional Indian lamp, known as Kuthu Vilakku. The lamp lighting symbolises the triumph of light over darkness.
 
The cultural attraction will kick start ERL’s initiatives to support Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign and is expected to attract locals and tourists for a feast for the senses.
 
Noormah Mohd Noor, Chief Executive Officer of ERL said: “While ERL may just be regarded as an airport transfer provider to many air travellers, we are determined to play our part and support the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign for the good of the country. Through our partnerships with Tourism Malaysia, online travel agents, hotels and other partners, we will work together to promote Malaysia to the world as a preferred destination in 2020. We are looking to further enhance our transport packages for tourists such as the KL TravelPass and Discover Kuala Lumpur, and we are working with new partners to offer more value-for-money products.

ERL Deepavali Kolam at KL Sentral 2 

“When tourists fly into Kuala Lumpur, one of their first Malaysian experiences will be on board our train as they make their way into the city. With our impeccable 99.7% on-time performance and safety record, we aim to provide a great first impression to these visitors,” she added.
 
Spreading over 1,600 square feet, the Deepavali Kolam was drawn using 500kg of broken rice mixed with organic colours, and is the largest freehand Kolam in a public space. Kolam, usually drawn outside the doorstep, ushers in goodness and symbolises the celebration of life. It is a sign of invitation to welcome all into the home while also making the place look beautiful.
 
The design of the Kolam was conceptualised by Pinnacle Events Stylist and is inspired by the beauty, vibrant colours and magnificence of the peacock – the focal point of the Kolam. The intricate art piece showcases a vivid array of colours that represent the unity and diversity of Malaysians. It also appropriately features the Visit Truly Asia Malaysia 2020 logo. Employees from the design agency, Lashini.my and ERL participated in the laborious but fun activity which took a total of 26 hours to complete.
 
Modern elements such as the train and e-commerce conveniences depicting today’s mobility and connectivity are infused with a traditional colourful design that represents prosperity. This collaboration embraces the fact that our people are modern and connected, yet are rooted in traditions that every Malaysian can relate to and enjoy.
 
The Kolam will be on display at KL Sentral from 22nd to 31st October 2019. Everyone is invited to view the stunning display, pose at the Kolam and tag #deepavali #diwalilights #kliaekspres #VM2020 #VisitMalaysia2020 on social media.

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UK: Heathrow Express, the fastest route between London Paddington and Heathrow Central, has announced its popular £5.50 ticket fares will now be available every day of the week. The new low online fares ranging from £5.50 to £16.50, available for both peak and non-peak times throughout the week. 

The new ticket pricing coincides with the launch of a new multi-lingual website and app. A guaranteed number of discounted tickets will be released for every day of travel for advanced online purchase thanks to the new dynamic pricing structure.

Similar to an airline style yield management system, this increased availability of discounted tickets beyond weekends, extends the value offered by the transport provider that has frozen prices since 2018 and offers a permanent kids travel free initiative.

Previously the cheapest weekday travel available was £12.50 when booked 90 days in advance rising to £16.50 for bookings up to 14 days before travel.

Now, customers booking in advance will see fares available for £5.50, £7.50, £10.00, £12.50, £15.00 or £16.50 depending on availability.

Additional front-end improvements to the website and app allow travellers faster booking, clear ticket and price options, personalised suggestions using customer location and booking history and automated next train times. This is presented in an easy to navigate, responsive application.

In parallel, Heathrow Express are upgrading their API technology which is currently integrated with various partners’ booking systems for fast processing of ticket requests from corporate clients or trade partners.

A new JSON REST API Developer Portal with a sandbox environment is being created which will allow partner developers to co-create and test their own integrated API system ensuring Heathrow Express ticket sales works seamlessly alongside their own platforms before being launched to customers.

The portal is currently being piloted by Distribusion with an expected full release in the new year. Once this happens, the system will be rolled out to third parties in the trade such as TMCs, ground transfer operators and airlines to integrate Heathrow Express tickets into their booking systems.

Each of the recently launched improvements by Heathrow Express are prompted by the commitment to ensure the process from booking a ticket to travelling is simple and stress-free.

Les Freer, Heathrow Express Director, said: “Rolling out our £5.50 one-way fare across the week means thousands more customers can travel for less with Heathrow Express. Speed and convenience is crucial to Heathrow Express customers who have rated us top in the National Rail Passenger Survey three times in a row and our new website and app delivers on these too. Our continued investment in technology will improve the customer experience for both trade partners and end users making the booking process more personalised, quicker and simpler to use.”

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USA: Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) received two grants from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania totalling $924,900 for a platform improvements project at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s (SEPTA) Airport Regional Rail Line stops.

PHL was awarded $500,000 from the Multimodal Transportation Program (awarded in March 2019) and $424,900 from PennDOT’s Aviation Transportation Assistance Program, Aviation Development Program, and the Multimodal Fund (awarded in August 2019) for rehabilitating platforms and canopies at PHL’s four stops on SEPTA’s Airport Line.

“Our Airport serves more than 32 million passengers annually,” said PHL CEO Rochelle “Chellie” Cameron. “With departures to and from Center City every 30 minutes, SEPTA’s Airport Line provides those visitors and airline crews flying in and out of PHL with a convenient travel option to Philadelphia and the surrounding region. The rail line’s connection to many other SEPTA services, makes the train a vital transportation necessity for many of the 21,000 airport employees.”

SEPTA’s Airport Line, which began service in 1985, provides 2.1 million annual trips to and from PHL. Trains access all PHL terminals, with platforms at Terminals A, B, C/D and E/F. The funding received from the Commonwealth will provide necessary structural and aesthetic upgrades to all locations without impacting service. Work is anticipated to begin in May 2020.

“SEPTA and Philadelphia’s Division of Aviation have a vested interest in supporting and, when necessary, collaborating on, multimodal projects that help move our shared passengers to points across the Delaware Valley,” said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. “The proposed work at the Airport Line stops will create an enhanced transit gateway for residents and visitors traveling to and from PHL.”

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Swiss

SWITZERLAND: Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) and Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) now offer customers a ‘Flugzug’ rail service between Lugano Station and Zurich Airport for travel on or after 16 October. Selected SBB rail connections between Lugano and Zurich Airport will be issued with a SWISS flight number, and the cost of the rail journey is included in the SWISS flight ticket price.
 
The ‘Flugzug’ timetable offers 14 daily services in each direction between Lugano Station and Zurich Airport. The new rail service thus provides travellers between the two points with even more flexibility than the present four daily flights. The rail services concerned also cover all the relevant SWISS connecting flights from and to its Zurich hub. The new ‘Flugzug’ services are bookable now for travel on or after 16 October, on the SWISS website or at any travel agency.
 
SWISS is keen to ensure that the Ticino region is well connected with its Zurich Airport air travel hub. The present arrangement is an interim solution, and SWISS and SBB are working closely on optimising the ‘Flugzug’ rail service which as a SBB feeder rail service until now only existed between Basel and Zurich Airport.

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GXRS

UK: Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has completed a five-year £2bn programme to transform passenger journeys with more than 1,500 new carriages, turning one of the UK’s oldest fleets into one of the most modern.

Since September 2014 when it launched, GTR has overseen the introduction of four fleets of trains and expanded one other, transforming journeys for thousands of passengers:

  • 116 brand new Class 387/1 carriages (29 units) – initially used on the Thameslink network, now on Great Northern, operating as far as King’s Lynn
  • 108 brand new Class 387/2 carriages (27 units) – serving Gatwick Express between Brighton, Gatwick and London Victoria
  • 1,140 brand new Class 700 carriages (115 units) – serving the entire, expanded Thameslink network
  • 150 brand new Class 717 carriages (25 units) – serving the Great Northern Moorgate route
  • 12 Class 171 carriages (4 units) for Southern – adding to the existing fleet and facilitating the first longer 10-carriage services between Uckfield and London Bridge

GTR has overseen what is thought to be the biggest cascade of rolling stock since privatisation – a total of more than 1,500 new carriages brought into the franchise, and almost 900 cascaded out. A further 880 were cascaded between routes within the network.

The new trains (717s) have capacity for 943 people – that’s nearly 100 more people per journey than those they replace (an 11% increase). The new trains also feature live service updates from London Underground, open and interconnected carriages, allowing passengers to walk from one end of the train to the other, the latest accessibility features, a brand new ‘snow mode’, which changes the way the brakes work to improve reliability in snowy conditions, a train monitoring systems to facilitate a condition-based maintenance regime, and are capable of operating with ERTMS.