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Orlando Brightline Station

USA: The Florida Development Finance Corporation approved Brightline's request to act as a conduit for the issuance of $1.75 billion in Private Activity Bonds. These bonds will finance the rail infrastructure in five counties, including Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Brevard and Orange counties.

“We appreciate the FDFC board's continued support in the Private Activity Bond process and the members' recognition of the significant economic impacts Brightline will have on the state,” said Patrick Goddard, Brightline's president and coo. “This is another important step forward for our Phase 2 extension to Orlando, and we look forward to executing this transformative vision of privately funded intercity passenger rail.”

Private Activity Bonds are designed for private infrastructure projects, such as Brightline, that offer a public benefit. They are not backed by the federal, state or local governments and pose no risk to taxpayers. The bonds may only be purchased by qualified, private investors who must perform their own due diligence.

With all material permits in place, Brightline expects to start construction on Phase 2 this year. Brightline's station in Orlando will be located at the Orlando International Airport's new Intermodal Terminal Facility that will be the hub of the future South Terminal complex. The Orlando expansion is slated to open in 2021. Recently, Brightline confirmed it is engaged in an RFP process with the Florida Department of Transportation to extend the system to the Tampa Bay region.

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Melbourne Suburban Rail Loop

AUSTRALIA: The State Government of Victoria announced plans to build the Suburban Rail Loop, connecting every major line in Melbourne and providing a direct rail link to Melbourne Airport for the first time.

Trains will travel up to 130km/h through dedicated tunnels with no level crossings, no interaction with the existing network, and a dedicated fleet of rollingstock.

Modelling undertaken as part of planning for the project shows the trip from Cheltenham to Melbourne Airport will take 45 minutes – less time than it takes to travel in the car. A trip from Box Hill to the airport through the tunnels could take just 25 minutes.

The Suburban Rail Loop is projected to create more than 20,000 jobs during construction – including 2,000 apprentices, trainees and cadets employed through Labor’s Major Projects Skills Guarantee.

Labor Government will invest $300 million in a full business case, design, and pre-construction works, with work on the first section in Melbourne’s south east expected to begin by the end of 2022.

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REM route

CANADA: Canada Infrastructure Bank and CDPQ Infra, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, have reached a business agreement on the investment by Canada Infrastructure Bank in the Réseau express métropolitain project (REM) in Montréal, a 67-km, light rail, high-frequency network linking Montreal Trudeau Airport with the city centre.

The $1.28-billion investment completes the project’s $6.3-billion financing. The agreement is subject to the execution of the final documentation.

“We are pleased to participate in the funding of this important public infrastructure project,” said Pierre Lavallée, President and CEO of Canada Infrastructure Bank. “Public transit is one of our priority areas. Our role is to invest alongside private sector and institutional investors, and other public-sector partners to facilitate the development of strategic projects like the REM.”

“We are very pleased to welcome the Canada Infrastructure Bank as a partner in the REM project. With this $1.28-billion investment, the REM’s financing is now fully completed. The construction of the project is progressing well and will intensify in the fall,” said Macky Tall, President and CEO, CDPQ Infra.

Construction of the REM began in April 2018. The first trains are scheduled to run in the summer of 2021.Given that the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s investment takes the form of a loan, CDPQ Infra’s equity stake in the REM project will be approximately 70% and the Government of Québec’s stake will be approximately 30%.

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Journey PAL

UK: RSSB and the Department for Transport has awarded £600,000 funds to develop a crowdsourced tool Journey PAL, allowing disabled passengers and carers to access all the information they need to understand how accessible a specific station is, as well as an overall rating fellow users have placed on a specific journey. 

By allowing users to input their own reviews and calibrate their user interface, Journey PAL will present relevant, reliable advice for each user group who, until now, have relied upon high-level metrics published by operators. In addition, the rating that users collectively provide will ensure that station operators are held to account over the quality of their service due to the public transparency of the rating process.

The initial trial in the West Midlands area will cover stations served by national and local operators, including West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway, as well as those connecting to flights from Birmingham Airport (via Birmingham International station).

Journey PAL is being developed by four partners: Accessible Travel & Leisure, Transporting Cities, Ethos Farm, and MuMu, with the with the initial concept to be launched winter 2018.

Matt Garner, Co-founder of customer service tech company Ethos Farm said: “We are delighted to have won this prestigious competition and look forward to delivering an innovative and transformational.”

Liam Henderson of passenger experience agency Transporting Cities said: “Passengers of all means rely on quite bland information published by rail companies to make very personal choices; this tool will empower user groups to build their own journey reviews and help improve the experience for their peers.”

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Emirates Trenitalia

ITALY: Emirates and Trenitalia have announced a new codeshare agreement which will enable Emirates customers to discover new destinations across Italy.

With just one ticket, travellers will be able to fly on Emirates and reach 27 cities and towns in Italy using high speed trains that leave from Bologna, Milan, Rome and Venice.

“This codeshare agreement with Trenitalia opens up new possibilities for our customers and complements our current services to Bologna, Milan, Rome and Venice. With Trenitalia, travelling to the Far East from Foggia, or to Padova from Sydney has never been easier," said Hubert Frach, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, West.

"Emirates already flies more than 1.6 million passengers to and from Italy every year. With this codeshare agreement, we’re connecting Italian regions to our global network, significantly boosting the Italian tourism industry,” added Mr Frach.

“The agreement signed by Trenitalia and Emirates is a pivotal step towards the increase of effective and comfortable integration between train and airplane,” said Gianpiero Strisciuglio, Director of Trenitalia Long Haul Passenger Division. “Our customers will now be able to buy one single solution for their train and flight journey, departing and arriving from 27 Italian stations and enjoying the comforts and the best commercial facilities offered by Trenitalia and Emirates,” he added.

Customers can now start booking their codeshare trips via Emirates’ website and travel onwards to these destination and benefit from the convenience of holding a single ticket. First Class and Business Class passengers will automatically be booked in First Class on board Trenitalia’s trains.

Emirates customers will be able to board Trenitalia trains directly without the need to exchange their boarding pass for a separate ticket. As with their flight, they will be assigned a seat number and car number which will be on their e-ticket.

Emirates’ baggage allowance will also apply for train journeys, as well as baggage dimension restrictions. Customers will need to collect their checked bags from the arrival hall at the airport and take them to the train station.