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USA: The Port Authority New York New Jersey (PANYNJ) Board of Commissioners approved the biennial reassessment of the agency’s 2017-2026 Capital Plan, which includes an additional $4.8 billion for critical Port Authority projects. The major elements of the reassessment are:

  • A new AirTrain Newark and additional dollars for AirTrain LaGuardia, both projected to be funded by incremental project-related revenue
  • Addition of three new projects: PATH Improvement Plan; electric vehicle infrastructure; and planning for a new Newark Liberty Terminal Two
  • Adjustments to the Capital Plan regarding JFK Redevelopment and Newark Terminal One to take account of prior Board actions and funded by incremental project-related revenue

Of the $4.8 billion increase, approximately $4.5 billion, or 94% of the increase, is projected to be funded by additional project-related revenues, including revenue increases from the following: terminal rents; airline cost recoveries; user fees; anticipated receipt of passenger facility charges; Hurricane Sandy recovery; and airport improvement grants associated with certain projects.

“The Port Authority is committed to rapid progress on all our critical capital projects to deliver the 21st century transportation infrastructure that the region deserves. The $37 billion Capital Plan that the Board approved today is part of that commitment,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “This Capital Plan funds major infrastructure projects like the new AirTrain Newark, the AirTrain LGA and redevelopment at JFK and Newark and makes good on sustainability commitments, such as new, clean electric vehicle charging stations, the PATH improvement plan, and planning for a brand-new Terminal 2 at Newark Airport. Both the original 2017-2026 Capital Plan and the modifications approved today provide for extraordinary and unprecedented levels of investment needed to replace and upgrade our facilities to meet the standards of 21st century infrastructure."

The increases to major projects are all projected to be funded through additional revenues associated with these projects.

  • New AirTrain Newark ($1.64 billion increase; $2.05 billion total): The reassessed Capital Plan provides for a new AirTrain Newark for $2.05 billion. This represents an entirely new project. The new AirTrain project replaces the planned spending of $300 million to keep the old AirTrain in a state of good repair. The increase is informed by previously authorized planning efforts and will be covered by: airline cost recoveries; rental car fees; future period PFCs; farebox revenue; and $110 million of reduced spending elsewhere in the Aviation Capital Plan. This major new commitment is in direct response to a request from Governor Murphy. The proposal targets a start to construction in late 2020 or early 2021.
  • JFK Redevelopment ($1.9 billion increase; $2.9 billion total): With respect to the already announced JFK Redevelopment Project, this change represents the technical Capital Plan provision catching up with the authorizations made by the Board in October 2018. Approximately $2.9 billion of the $13 billion JFK project will be spent on Port Authority infrastructure, e.g. roadways; airfield improvements; a ground transportation center; and utilities and electrical substations. The original 2017-2026 Capital Plan provided $1 billion for spending on PA infrastructure. This incremental cost of $1.9 billion is projected to be funded from private sector sources – rental revenue from private terminal developers and airline cost recoveries. The contribution from private capital remains at $12 billion of the $13 billion total cost of the redevelopment program, as reflected in the Board’s October 2018 approval.
  • AirTrain LGA ($390 million increase; $2.05 billion total): The reassessed Capital Plan provides for a $2.05 billion project to build an AirTrain to serve LaGuardia Airport. The current capital plan included $1.5 billion in spending for this project. The revised project cost is informed by the planning efforts and preliminary engineering analysis underway as a result of previously authorized spending by the Board. The increase to the Capital Plan is $390 million, net of $160 million of reduced spending on other Aviation projects. This increase is projected to be covered by multiple sources, including: farebox revenue; airline cost recoveries; and future period PFCs.
  • Newark Liberty Terminal One Redevelopment ($350 million increase; $2.7 billion total): In February 2018 the Board reauthorized this project because the total cost to complete the project increased by $350 million to $2.7 billion due to market conditions increasing construction costs. The additional funds required for this increase are projected to be fully provided by revenues from the new terminal.
    Funding New Projects

The reassessment provides funding for the Capital Plan for three key initiatives:

  • PATH Improvement Plan ($200 million): As announced in June, the PATH Improvement Plan includes three core elements: increased capacity on the Newark-WTC line by 40% and all other lines by 20% by 2022; a six-point plan to reduce system delays; and a series of actions to improve customer experience including full integration with the MTA’s new tap-and-go fare payment system, OMNY.
  • Electric Vehicle Infrastructure ($50 million): As the first public transit agency in the country to embrace the Paris Climate Agreement, the Port Authority’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions across its facilities includes the aggressive introduction of all-electric vehicles. These funds will provide the electric charging infrastructure needed to support the electric vehicle initiative, including: 1) infrastructure needed for the conversion of airport shuttle buses to an all-electric fleet; 2) the conversion of 50% of the agency’s light vehicle fleet to electric; and 3) charging stations for public use at various parking facilities.
  • Planning for Newark Liberty Airport Terminal Two ($35 million): Just as Newark Terminal A is currently being replaced by the new Terminal One, the reassessed Capital Plan enables planning to replace the existing Terminal B with a new Terminal Two. This is the next step to increasing capacity, improving passenger experience, and moving Newark Liberty International Airport, consistent with all Port Authority airports, to world class standards.

For more detailed information on each of the 2017-2026 Capital Plan, click here.

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USA: The Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has allocated $125 million to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Silicon Valley Phase II project. This is the first project to receive a funding allocation under FTA’s Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program.

The BART Silicon Valley Phase II project is a 6.5-mile extension of the BART system from the Berryessa Station through downtown San Jose to the City of Santa Clara. The total estimated project cost is $5.58 billion and VTA has requested $1.395 billion in federal funding through FTA’s Pilot Programme. 

Santa Clara Station, located adjacent to the Santa Clara Caltrain Station and Santa Clara University, will be the end of the line station for VTA's BART Phase II Extension. The station is located near Mineta San Jose International Airport and there are plans to link the station to the proposed Transit-Oriented Joint Development, although it is not clear if this development will include access to the airport.

Santa Clara Station

FTA’s Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program streamlines project delivery of new transit infrastructure that meets programme requirements. By encouraging innovative partnerships and funding from a variety of sources, projects can be completed more quickly, making better use of taxpayer dollars and bringing new transit service to growing communities.

To receive funding under the pilot program, Santa Clara VTA must fund at least 75% of the project cost through local, state and other non-federal contributions, including a public-private partnership. In turn, FTA will expedite the review and evaluation of application materials under a streamlined review process as authorized by law.

The funding allocation will be awarded to VTA once it meets all program requirements needed to proceed to a construction grant agreement.

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UK: Dozens of towns and cities across the UK could benefit from Midlands Engine Rail, a £3.5 billion improvement programme to transform the region’s rail network, launched by Sub-national Transport Body Midlands Connect.

Made up of seven projects, which includes improved connectivity to Birmingham Airport, the programme is strategically-important in supercharging the Midlands Engine economy and is designed to drive sustainability, productivity and social mobility across the whole region. It also includes and builds upon the flagship Midlands Rail Hub scheme; aimed at boosting east-west connectivity, which was submitted to Government in June 2019.

Set to be delivered in stages from 2022 to the completion of HS2 Phase Two, Midlands Engine Rail will provide a much-needed capacity boost for national, local and regional rail services, creating space for 736 more passenger trains on the network each day. Over the past two years, rail passenger numbers have risen faster in the Midlands than anywhere else in the UK.

You can download the full report here: https://www.midlandsconnect.uk/media/1593/final-mer-report.pdf

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POLAND: The European Commission adopted three major Cohesion Policy projects, modernising the Polish rail and road network and increasing travel safety while reducing costs and travel time.

EU-funded works will replace the outdated technology and set up a modern communication system along almost 14,000 km of railway line throughout the country. In addition to improving passenger safety and reducing travel time, this project will allow Poland to move towards introducing the European Rail Traffic Management System, which will integrate Polish rail lines with the European railway network. The project should be operational as of July 2023.

More than €117 million allocated to upgrade Silesia's railway services, which includes upgrading and electrifying 46 km of railway lines, building or refurbishing stations, platforms, viaducts and bridges in northern Silesia. It will also make platforms accessible for people with reduced mobility and build a new International Airport station at Pyrzowice, which serves the regional capital of Katowice.

Works will restore traffic on the Tarnowskie Góry-Zawiercie line while creating safe and reliable links to and from Pyrzowice airport. Once finished in May 2022, this project will improve the efficiency of freight transport and ensure reliable connections for passengers. It will ultimately boost local economic development.

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THE NETHERLANDS: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will replace one of its daily services between Brussels and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (“Schiphol”) with seat capacity aboard the Thalys high-speed train. In recent months, KLM, Thalys and NS Dutch Railways have developed a long-term plan to reduce the number of flights between Brussels and Schiphol. The basic premise being that the product should match its current appeal to customers.

KLM has regularly indicated that it is in favour of replacing short-haul flights with rail services, as long as trains fully match the speed, reliability and comfort that air travel offers passengers. The decision to reduce flight frequency from five to four flights a day on the Brussels-Schiphol route, in combination with the improved Air&Rail product aboard the Thalys, is a first step. KLM intends to gradually cut back the number of flights between Brussels and Schiphol. The Brussels-Schiphol route is used by passengers who catch connecting flights to intercontinental destinations at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

“Intermodal transport involving trains and planes remains a complex and challenging business. Speed is key, not only in terms of the train itself, but also the transfer process at the airport. We aim to make maximum progress in both areas. Reducing our frequency from five to four flights a day is a good way of gaining more experience with Air&Rail services," KLM President & CEO Pieter Elbers said.

This step is part of KLM’s commitment to “Fly Responsibly”, which aims to create a sustainable future for air transport, but it also reflects our commitment to the sector plan Smart and Sustainable. Next to that, KLM is faced with slot restrictions at Schiphol. By replacing short-haul flights with rail services, scarce slots can be used for services to long-haul destinations. Rail services will maintain feeder traffic to Schiphol, while network quality improves thanks to the more varied range of available destinations.