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USA: TriMet, a public agency that operates mass transit in Portland, has announced plans to extend the MAX Red Line to Hillsboro, and add a second track to sections of the Red Line near Portland International Airport and Gateway Transit Center.

TriMet Board of Directors voted to adopt two resolutions on April 24 allowing for the project to move forward. One of the resolutions approved the Locally Preferred Alternative, and the second resolution authorizes TriMet to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Port of Portland. The agreement commits TriMet to continue funding further design of the project, and to work with the FTA on the total cost estimates and benefits of the project. This is the next step towards securing funding from the FTA that could pay for half of the $200 million project, with TriMet paying the other half.

TriMet’s MAX Red Line runs between Beaverton Transit Center and Portland International Airport. The plan is to extend the line ten stations to the west, to run between the Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport Station and Portland’s airport. The MAX Blue Line currently is the only light rail service west of Beaverton Transit Center and trains are often crowded during peak travel times. With continuing growth in both housing and jobs in Washington County, the request for more MAX service along the corridor between Hillsboro and Beaverton Transit Center is increasing and the extension would double service in that area most hours of the day.

The expanded service requires improving track and switches, upgrading the signal system and building an operator break facility at the Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport Station. The agency also plans to add up to eight new light rail vehicles to accommodate the extended service.

Construction is expected to begin in 2021-2022 with opening about two years later.

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UK: Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, has won five major contracts to support Heathrow Airport’s sustainable expansion programme. The contracts will see Atkins – which is part of Heathrow Airport’s Integrated Design Team – provide design and advisory services as Heathrow prepares for further public consultation in June, followed by submission of a Development Consent Order application in 2020.
 
The scope of work includes: airport connectivity, ensuring people and goods can move to, from and around the airport seamlessly; energy and utilities; water, including drainage and flood prevention; land use and development zones; and construction delivery support, which will see Atkins advise on Design for Manufacture and Assembly, modern methods of construction, and the design of temporary infrastructure.
 
Atkins is the lead consultant for all five contracts and will be supported by its integrated design partners (Arup, Grimshaw, Mott MacDonald, Jacobs, Quod and Woods Group), plus WSP and Buro Happold.
 
Atkins will draw on local expertise and its regional hubs to deliver the work, with a focus on providing career and development opportunities for graduates and apprentices.

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MALAYSIA: Malindo Air guests are now able to buy KLIA Ekspres tickets together with their flight tickets on Malindo Air’s website. This e-ticketing facility further strengthens the partnership between Malindo Air and Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd (ERL) following the launch of the airline’s check-in service at KL Sentral in December 2016.

Noormah Mohd Noor, Chief Executive Officer of ERL said, “We are excited about this latest collaboration with Malindo Air. It is in line with our digital partnership drive with partners who share a common goal in providing convenient and seamless service to our mutual customers. For passengers who fly with Malindo Air, they can rest assured that their luggage will arrive safely at their final destination as each piece of luggage is barcoded and tracked.”

Malindo Air commenced operations in March 2013 and has a network of flights throughout Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, China, Singapore, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Australia, Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Taiwan, Pakistan and Hong Kong. With an extensive network of 55 routes in the region, Malindo Air has over 800 flights travelling weekly.

Chandran Rama Muthy, Chief Executive Officer of Malindo Air said. "We are pleased to bring our collaboration with ERL to another level with this initiative. Moreover, our passengers get to enjoy exclusive fares and seamless connection to and from KLIA, which we believe will enhance their travel experience by flying with Malindo Air.”

To purchase KLIA Ekspres tickets, simply log on to www.malindoair.com. Once your Malindo Air flight tickets are confirmed, click on the KLIA Ekspres banner in the Booking Confirmation page to purchase KLIA Ekspres tickets at exclusive fares.

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AUSTRALIA: Victorian and Commonwealth Governments have formally signed off on the Melbourne Airport Rail Link (MARL) project.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the signing of the Heads of Agreement on 13 March 2019, which sets out the strategic objectives, governance arrangements and information sharing processes for the $10 billion joint commitment.

Mr Morrison said the people of Melbourne and Victoria had been waiting far too long for the rail link to become a reality.

“For decades Victorians have talked about a train line to the airport. We are delivering it. In last year’s Budget we made a $5 billion investment in the Melbourne Airport Rail Link, it was the biggest infrastructure commitment in the Budget.

“Melbourne is truly a global city that deserves world class infrastructure. The Rail Link is part of our plan to bust congestion across the city and get people home faster and safer.

“I’d like to thank the Premier and Minister Tudge who have worked constructively with me to land this agreement and bring the project closer to fruition.”

A project team will be established to drive the development of a full Business Case for the project, which will not only connect Melbourne Airport to the rail network for the first time – but also integrate it with the Metro Tunnel and the future Suburban Rail Loop, and pave the way for fast-rail to the regions.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the Victorian Government is not wasting a minute leading the planning work for an Airport Rail Link that delivers for all Victorians.

“The Melbourne Airport Rail Link has been talked about for far too long – we’re doing the detailed planning and development work to make it a reality,” Mr Andrews said.

“By choosing the Sunshine route, we are ensuring all Victorians can benefit from the rail link, including people living in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo. As we complete the business case, we’re also doing the work needed to deliver fast rail to the regions.”

Melbourne Airport is a key part of Victoria and Australia’s economic growth. In 2016-17, it handled more than 35 million passenger movements and by 2038, it is expected to almost double to more than 67 million, as Victoria’s population continues to grow and demand increases.

Melbourne Airport Rail Link will alleviate congestion on the main road connection to the airport, the Tullamarine Freeway, and unlock capacity for the growing population in Melbourne’s north-west.

Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge said following the successful widening of the Tullamarine Freeway, the airport link would bust congestion for generations to come.

“This is a critical project for Melbourne. It will make it easier for residents and make our city more attractive to visitors,” Mr Tudge said.

“When complete, someone in Pakenham, Frankston or Ringwood will be able to get onto the train, and be at the airport in the time it would have taken to drive, but without having to worry about parking.”

Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said this is part of the Victorian Government’s unprecedented pipeline of major transport projects.

“We’re building the Metro Tunnel, removing dangerous level crossings and getting on with the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.”
“This is not just about getting from the airport to the city – it’s about better connecting our suburbs and regions, so people have better services wherever they live.”

Planning and development of the MARL Business Case is already well underway. Rail Projects Victoria has engaged expert technical and commercial advisers for the project, and ecological, traffic and geotechnical investigations have begun.

Early market engagement on the MARL attracted submissions from more than 100 local and global organisations. Further market sounding will be undertaken to assess equity partners, private sector involvement, financing arrangements and other matters.

A reference group including community, industry and local government representatives will be established to provide guidance and feedback to the project team as the Business Case is developed.

The State and Federal Governments have committed up to $5 billion each to deliver MARL. The total cost of the project is estimated to be in the range of $8-13 billion, with construction to take up to nine years and due to commence in 2022.

The Business Case will be delivered by 2020 and will assess station and procurement options, value capture and creation opportunities, and economic analysis of the recommended solution.

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Stansted CEO

UK: The Chief Executive Officer of London Stansted, Ken O’Toole, has called on local businesses, community leaders and regional organisations to make their voices heard and press Government for upgrades to the rail links to the airport.

Addressing over 150 delegates at the annual Stansted Area Transport Forum, O’Toole said better connectivity in and out of the airport will further boost the local economy, make new journeys viable for local residents, ease access for the 12,000 on-site workforce and help attract a greater number of airlines and new destinations.

O’Toole asked attendees to use the on-going Aviation Strategy consultation process as an opportunity to communicate direct to Government the need for better rail connections into Stansted.

"How easy it is for people to access Stansted, be they passengers, our workforce or business partners, will be one of the primary drivers behind our future growth – growth that will in turn ensure that the UK, and particularly the East of England, remains connected to international economies and all the opportunities they have to offer.

Airport development and surface access into airports should not be considered independently from each other; they should be considered together as part of an integrated transport strategy. Where surface access to airports is suitably well developed, economic activity that would otherwise not occur is generated; through tourism, international trade, productivity improvements and attracting of foreign investment," O'Toole said.

The Airport Operators Association estimates that a 5% improvement in average journey times to and from UK airports could deliver a 2.7% increase in passenger numbers, generating an additional £1.9 billion for the UK economy and supporting an additional 32,000 jobs.

"Our view that journey times need to come down has been endorsed by both the Airports Commission and West Anglia Task Force but unfortunately these requests have fallen on deaf ears within central Government and Network Rail, despite the number of passengers and commuters using the Stansted Express growing by 143% since 2013.

Of course, journey time improvements require infrastructure investment. Whilst we are prepared to proportionately contribute to the costs involved in seeing journey times lowered, any significant improvement will require considerable investment.

Therefore, my ask to everyone here today is clear. Please take it upon yourselves to communicate directly to government, through its current Aviation Strategy consultation process, about the need for better rail connections into Stansted Airport and how these will benefit you, your family, your business or organisation and the wider region. Hopefully, together we can collectively deliver the transport improvements that this region, and the country, deserves," Ken O’ Toole concluded.