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AUSTRALIA: Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that more than 100 local and global organisations have expressed interest to deliver the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.

The Andrews Labor Government has committed up to $5 billion to build this project, which will run from the CBD to Melbourne Airport via Sunshine and form the north-western section of the Suburban Rail Loop.

“We are not wasting a minute in getting this project planned, designed and delivered. The Melbourne Airport Rail Link is the next step in our transformation of Victoria’s public transport network and a key part of the Suburban Rail Loop,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Over the past four months, Rail Projects Victoria tested market interest from across the professional disciplines needed to deliver the Melbourne Airport Rail Link – including design, engineering, construction and finance.

The Labor Government will now assess which organisations have the capability to make the Melbourne Airport Rail Link a reality and begin gauging the interest of potential private sector investors and operators.

The full business case is now underway, with the project set to begin construction by 2022.

Aurecon Jacobs Mott MacDonald Joint Venture (AJM JV) has been appointed as a technical advisor and KPMG has been appointed as a commercial advisor for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.

AJM JV have already started site investigations in the Airport Rail Link corridor as part of early planning work.

Ecologists are looking for protected flora and fauna to map the sites. The results from the surveys will be used to support detailed planning and assessments for the Airport Rail Link project.

The Joint Venture is also working on the Western Rail Plan, carrying out detailed investigations of infrastructure upgrades, costs and train requirements to deliver fast rail to the regions as part of the Airport Rail Link.

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UK: Network Rail has announced that the proposals for a new rail link from the Great Western Main Line to Heathrow Airport have been given a boost with a large majority of people backing it during the statutory public consultation carried out earlier this year.

Views were sought from rail users, communities, businesses and other interested parties. 1,333 responses were received via post, email and on Network Rail’s official consultation website, building on the previous 1,000 responses received during two previous rounds of public engagement and consultation in 2015 and 2016.

A total of 72% of respondents agreed with the proposals to build the new rail link with 11% of total respondents asking for the industry to speed up delivery of the scheme. 23% disagreed with the proposals with a required road closure in the Iver area being cited as the most common reason for the negative response.

The link would allow passengers throughout the West, and beyond, to travel directly to Heathrow Airport from Reading, Twyford, Maidenhead and Slough, without having to change at London Paddington. This would make journey times to Heathrow as short as 26 minutes from Reading and just 7 minutes from Slough. It would therefore help ease congestion on the roads, and bring economic growth and new jobs into the Thames Valley and surrounding areas.

The plans have been drawn up on behalf of the Department for Transport.         

Mark Langman, route managing director for Network Rail’s Western route explained: “We are delighted that the proposals have been given the overwhelming support of the public, businesses and stakeholders. We have also heard the concerns of some local residents so will continue to work hard to make sure our final plans, which will be submitted for consent in 2019, work with other developments in the area.”

All of the detailed proposals for the scheme are available online at www.networkrail.co.uk/heathrow.

heathrow west access

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UKRAINE: National rail company Ukrzaliznytsya has officially opened the Kyiv Boryspil Express rail service on 30 November 2018. The new rail links will connect Kiev Central Station with the airport terminals, with one intermediate stop oat Darnitsa. One way single ticket fare is EUR 2.5 and the journey time is 38 minutes. According to the operator, over 6 thousand passengers have used the airport rail link in the first week of service.

The total cost of the project was EUR 15m, which included construction of 4km of new railway track to connect with the existing network and new passenger platforms at the airport.

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USA: BART is launching a new app offering groups 25% saving on their airport transit trips. The BART to Airport app is designed as a one-year test of mobile ticketing at BART, marking the first time BART is offering mobile tickets through an app.

Friends, families, and business travellers of two or more can use the BART to Airport app to purchase discounted tickets in advance for airport trips with the stored tickets on the buyer’s phone ready for use any time. 

Riders will need to download the free app, register a debit card, credit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay or PayPal account into the account, then purchase a ticket. When they are ready to take BART, they activate the ticket and show it to a Station Agent as they enter and exit stations. 

"With the BART to Airport app, group travellers won’t have to worry about finding and paying for expensive parking at crowded airport lots or sifting through the chaotic curbside pick-ups and drop-offs at airport terminals,” said BART Board President Robert Raburn. “We want to test how mobile ticketing could work at BART while also making group travel on transit more affordable.”

BART offers frequent service directly to the doorstep of both Oakland International and San Francisco International airports. Three to four trains per hour depart from the SFO International Terminal and it’s just 30 minutes to downtown San Francisco.  The Oakland Airport BART Station is a short walk to both airline terminals and trains run every 6 minutes until 11pm and every 20 minutes after 11pm.

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Rail Baltica North Sea Baltic Network

LATVIA: Rail Baltica Joint Venture is starting the second stage of the procurement of the design and design supervision services for the Rail Baltica section Upeslejas–Riga–Misa in Latvia.

This Rail Baltica main line section is 56 kilometres long, involves five municipalities and consists of three subsections: Upeslejas–Riga Central Station, Torņakalns–Imanta and Riga Airport–Misa River. It is one of the most complex sections since it crosses densely populated urban areas and includes the only Rail Baltica tunnel on the whole Rail Baltica route. In addition, it is interlinking the Rail Baltica International Passenger Stations in the Riga Central Station and the Riga International Airport.

The tender proposal submission deadline is 22 January 2019 and the contract duration will be 24 months during which the selected contractor will develop a master design, value engineering studies, spatial planning solutions and detailed technical design. In addition, the contract includes provision of the design author’s supervision during the construction phase of the line.

“Since Rail Baltica is the key missing link of the Trans-European Transport network, I carefully follow its progress," Kaspars Ozoliņš, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Transport of Latvia said. "Design of the Upeslejas–Riga–Misa section is a natural continuation of the earlier signed detailed technical design of Riga International Airport RB passenger station civil structures and junction contract as well as the ongoing procurement for the detailed technical design and construction of the Riga Central Station junction. Moreover, in the nearest future we plan to sign our first construction contract. I am pleased to see that Rail Baltica project remains in spotlights of the international community as so many international companies have expressed their interest to bid for Rail Baltica tenders. And our, Latvian, enterprises go with them.”

According to the preliminary plans, 12 road viaducts, 16 rail viaducts, 13 segregated pedestrian crossings, 5 bridges, the second part of the railway overpass in Riga Airport as well as a cut and cover tunnel need to be designed for this Rail Baltica section.

“Design of the Rail Baltica line through Riga is a technically challenging task and we are pleased to see strong and experienced competitors taking part in the tender,” Ignas Degutis, RB Rail AS acting CEO said. “Our plan is to ensure that Rail Baltica line will be sustainably integrated in the environment of the Latvian capital and the neighbouring municipalities on the route. The selected designer will play the key role in defining technical solutions in cooperation with a wide range of stakeholders, while also providing solutions to address the expectations of the surrounding communities, such as visual integration of the railway in the landscape as well as tackling noise pollution.”

Six tenderers with extensive international knowledge and experience were preselected earlier in 2018 to take part in the second stage of the tender:

  • Group of suppliers “ACG3I-AMBERG-CONSULTRANS-GEG-GREISCH-GRID-INZENIERBUVE” (Amberg Engineering AG; Amberg Technologies AG; CONSULTRANS S.A.U.; GEG Gabinete de Estruturas e Geotecnia Lda; GREISCH Ingénierie S.A.; GRID Consultas Estudos e Projectos de Engenharia S.A.; GRID International Consulting S.A.; INZENIERBUVE LLC).
  • Group of suppliers “IDOM-INECO” (IDOM Consulting, Engineering, Architecture, S.A.U.; Ingeniería y Economía del Transporte SME MP S.A. (INECO)).
  • Group of suppliers “OBERMEYER Planen + Beraten GmbH”.
  • Group of suppliers “Consortium TYPSA – SETEC – TUC RAIL – REM PRO” (Setec International; Técnica y Proyectos S.A. (TYPSA); TUC RAIL S.A.; REM PRO SIA).
  • Group of suppliers “SYSTRA/COWI Mainline through Riga JV” (SYSTRA SA; COWI A/S).
  • Group of suppliers “AIA Latvia Mainline Riga” (Aecom Inocsa S.L.U.; Italferr S.p.A).

The entire Rail Baltica line is divided in 11 sections to be contracted separately for the provision of detailed technical design. By now, the procurement is underway for 6 out of 11 sections. It is expected that the detailed technical design for the entire line will be procured by the end of 2021.