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UK: Porterbrook has signed a contract with Bombardier Transportation to fit digital signalling equipment and complete specialist on-board conversions to Class 387 trains set to serve the Heathrow Express rail link.

The 12 specially converted trains will form a dedicated Heathrow Express fleet as part of a management contract announced in March 2018 which sees Great Western Railway deliver some of the operational aspects of the airport service.

Porterbrook’s £11m investment in the class 387 Electrostar trains sees proven Digital Railway in-cab ETCS signalling installed as well as on-board conversions including improved seating, additional luggage space, at seat power, on-board TV and fast WiFi.

Engineering and design work will take place at Bombardier’s Derby Litchurch Lane works, with fitment taking place at the company’s Ilford depot. The work will be completed by December 2019, meeting the Secretary of State’s commitment to replace existing rolling stock on the route with highly reliable, digitally enabled, Electrostar trains as well as extend the track access agreement to confirm the Heathrow Express service running until at least 2028.

Fitment of ETCS to the Class 387 trains will be the first time that digital signalling has been installed on an existing fleet of electric passenger trains. Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook said: "I am delighted that Porterbrook and Bombardier can lead the way in the fitment of digital signalling to Heathrow Express Electrostar trains that connect London to the UK’s gateway to the world.”

"This first-in-fleet fitment will enable us to accelerate ETCS fitment on other Electrostar fleets, as and when our customers require it." Richard Hunter, President Rail Control Solutions at Bombardier Transportation, said: "As a global signalling solutions provider, we are delighted to be working with Porterbrook, Heathrow Express and Great Western Railway on this project, an exciting next step in the delivery of the Digital Railway."

Les Freer, Director of Heathrow Express said: “The introduction of a fleet of Class 387 trains specially converted for airport passengers is one of the main benefits of our new partnership with Great Western Railway. This helps us build on our 20 year history of excellent customer service as we continue to offer the same fast and frequent non-stop service between Heathrow Airport and London Paddington for years to come.”

Fitment of digital signalling to the Class 387 trains for use on the Heathrow Express route will result in ‘type approval’ from the Office of Rail and Road, enabling ETCS to be fitted to all Electrostar fleets.

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BELGIUM: International mobility experts and partners of the LAirA (Landside Airport Accessibility) project, funded by Interreg Central Europe met in Brussels on 23 January 2019 to discuss the merits of different solutions for low carbon mobility at airports. These solutions are meant to support local and regional authorities, infrastructure providers and airports in achieving their goals for green airport access.

The conference "Towards smart and low carbon mobility", organised by the Airport Regions Conference, brought together European institutions, international transport associations, public authorities, airports, and advocacy groups.

LAirA project partners represent seven Central Europe's Functional Urban Areas of Vienna, Budapest, Warsaw, Milan, Stuttgart, Dubrovnik and Poznan. The conference mirrored one of the main objectives of LAirA project: to encourage airport passengers and employees to use sustainable transport modes when travelling to and from the airport. LAirA partners analysed seven action plans to implement low carbon mobility - electric mobility, air-rail links, walking and cycling, shared mobility, intelligent transport systems, wayfinding and road based public transport.

"The recommendations of these analyses could be a valuable input for the European strategy," Isabelle Vandoorne, Deputy Head of the Sustainable and Intelligent Transport Unit at the European Commission said.

One of the key recommendations that was applicable to all action plans was a closer cooperation with the key stakeholders.

"All project partners have emphasized that building strong and sustainable relations with the many stakeholders is key in ensuring the success of the project," Milda Manomaityte, Founding Director of the Global AirRail Alliance said. "LAirA project partners highlighted the political and local support as one of the main challenges in delivering airport rail link projects. The political support can be strengthened if the local community is behind the project and is actively advocating for it."

A surprising hot topic of the event was the walking and cycling, or "Active Travel" action plan, looking at ways to encourage airport staff and passengers to forgo motorised transport and get active. Some airports are already offering cycling schemes to their employees with bicycle maintenance shops and cloakroom facilities. With car parking real-estate becoming a scarce resource, airports agree that it is good idea to convince their workers not to drive and park at the airport, but instead to use public transport or active travel. The discussions, however, kicked off when conference participants started considering the active travel for passengers and if such option is realistic at all. An agreement was reached that walking and cycling would work best within the airport campus, for example, for passengers accessing nearby hotels and conference centres. Currently many airports do not offer safe and enjoyable pedestrian routes, so passengers rely on private hotel shuttles to move around the immediate airport environment.

LAirA project partners have also considered the opportunity to work together and establish a standard wayfinding signs for these new mobility services.

"A passenger that is arriving at the airport for the first time will not be familiar with local public transport system and terminology. For example, public transport can mean different things in different countries, and rail services have different names around the world, such as metro, u-bahn, s-bahn, subway, overground, underground, intercity and many more. Another good example is the app based transportation services, such as Uber and Lyft - each airport started to introduce their own wayfinding signs to represent them," Liam Henderson, Founding Director or Transporting Cities said.

According to Liam, LAirA project partners should lead the way in developing standard wayfinding signs and definitions for different airport land access services.

Andrew Murphy, Manager-Aviation at Transport & Environment, highlighted that airports have a big role to play to change the access to the airport, but also that greater investment and regulation is needed to achieve low carbon mobility.

On behalf of LAirA’s lead partner, Budapest 18th District, Gabor Csaba Sooki-Toth noted that "sustainable airport access has an important role in the development of the region and LAirA project aims to support the European vision of sustainable transportation through better urban planning and by providing mobility solutions accessible for regions, airports and users."

The solutions and actions presented at this event will help further future activities that will improve and decarbonize access to airports, supporting cleaner airport areas as well as the goals of the Paris Agreement.

"Public transport is undergoing major changes and challenges with e-mobility, car-hailing and other emerging mobility services, and it sometimes feels that infrastructures or administrations are not able to cope with these changes, but today we saw so many progresses that I am confident for the readiness of our public transport providers,” Léa Bodossian, Director of Aspire and the moderator of the conference, summarised the event.

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KENYA: A consortium led by Egis has won a contract to carry out a feasibility study for a rail link connecting Nairobi city centre and Jomo Kenyatta Airport.

Kenya Railways Corporation has awarded the contract as part of the FASEP (Private Sector Study and Assistance Fund) framework, a tool set up by the French government to finance feasibility studies and give access to the know-how of French engineering companies.

The project would respond to the need to decongest traffic in Nairobi city centre. More than 4 million people live in Nairobi without any high performance mass transit network. Most of the trips are made in matatus, independent minibuses organised by routes. There is a railway network but it carries only 12,000 passengers a day with a frequency of one to two trains per day in each direction.

Egis and its partners STOA, Transdev, Vinci and Alstom were commissioned to carry out the feasibility studies to connect the city centre and the airport by extending and improving existing lines.

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LLA

UK: London Luton Airport (LLA) experienced its busiest ever year in 2018, as 16.6 million passengers used the airport, a 5% increase compared with the previous year. For the month of December, the airport welcomed over 1.26 million passengers, a 19.7% increase on December 2017.

In its record year, LLA marked the official opening of its £160 million redevelopment project, which will increase capacity by 50% to 18 million by 2020.

Passengers in 2019 will further benefit from the extension of the Oyster and contactless card system on train services between London and the airport.

Work is also continuing on the Direct Air Rail Transit (DART), which will replace the current shuttle bus between Luton Airport Parkway station and the terminal. Once complete, the DART will run 24 hours a day, helping to reduce the journey time to central London to under 30 minutes.

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Dakar Airport Rail Link

SENEGAL: The first phase of a Regional Express Train connecting Dakar to Blaise Diagne International Airport (AIBD) has been officially launched by APIX, Senegal’s National Agency for the Promotion of Investments and Major Projects, on 14 January 2019.

The first section of the Regional Express Train links the capital of Dakar to Diamniadio. When both sections are completed in 2020, the Regional Express Train will link Dakar to the new Blaise Diagne International Airport in 45 minutes (14 stations, 55 km of track). T

the projects is part of the Emerging Senegal Plan launched in 2014 to promote the economic and social development of the country.

APIX has awarded the contract to supply 15 regional trains to Alstom in 2016. The Coradia Polyvalent train for Senegal is dual-mode electric and diesel and can travel at speeds of 160 km/h. ENGIE Ineo (lead contractor) and Thales hold the contract for design and construction of rail electrification, revenue collection, signalling, and telecommunication systems