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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.

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UK: Gatwick Airport held its annual Transport Forum on 12 October, which emphasised airport's commitment to continue increasing the usage of sustainable modes and decreasing road congestion. The Forum gave an overview on Gatwick's initiatives to improve surface access for passengers and employees.

Richard Higgins, Head of Gatwick's Surface Access Strategy said that one of the key goals is to continue to move to sustainable modes and taking vehicle trips of the roads.

"In the last twelve months we had a period of disruptions, especially with the rail service. Due to the high frequency of rail services at the airport, we had been partially protected from those disruptions but there still has been an impact on punctuality. Our rail mode share could be at least two percent higher than it is today, if all things ran smoothly," Richard Higgins said.

Following on from the Forum, Gatwick Airport has released the draft Master Plan setting out how the airport can meet the growing demand for air travel as the airport estimates to reach 50 million annual passengers by 2020.

The draft Master plans details surface access improvement projects, emphasizing that Gatwick’s railway station, as one of the busiest in the country, has been struggling to cope with rising numbers of trains and passengers. Gatwick is working with Network Rail, the owners of the station, to develop plans to expand and improve the concourse areas. This will add more vertical circulation to the busiest platforms to facilitate platform clearance and provide new enhanced pedestrian routes. The proposed scheme will be jointly funded by the airport, Network Rail and DfT, costing around £120m, and is due for completion by 2022/23.

The full Master Plan can be downloaded from here >>> 

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USA: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is inviting consultants to submit proposals for the formal environmental review of the planned AirTrain LGA project.

The environmental impact statement (EIS), which is required by the National Environmental Policy Act, will provide multiple opportunities for public input and examine all potential effects and mitigation measures of the proposed airport rail-link from LaGuardia Airport in Queens to both the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and New York City Transit (NYCT) subway system. It will also further study a range of alternatives to meet the stated goals of providing better access to New York City origins and destinations for passengers via shorter and more reliable-travel times to and from the airport. 

Travel times to LaGuardia Airport via automobile have gone up in recent years and have become highly unpredictable due to increased congestion, which is projected to worsen in the years ahead. 

“As is the case with any critical infrastructure project, public input and a thorough evaluation of all alternatives is paramount,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “Our goal is to provide LaGuardia Airport passengers with a convenient, reliable world-class rail connection with travel times below 30 minutes from midtown Manhattan. We’re grateful for the invaluable community input that has guided our planning thus far and look forward to additional engagement as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proceeds with the formal environmental review.” 

Once the environmental consultant is selected, the review will commence with a Notice of Intent and scoping, the process used to determine the appropriate contents of an EIS. Public participation including a public hearing process is an integral part of scoping, which will be formally announced and widely publicized to solicit comments about what should be included such as relevant local issues, alternatives, and mitigation measures. Additional opportunities for review and comment will occur once a Draft EIS is prepared and made available for a minimum of 45 days, including an additional public hearing process. The FAA will conclude the process with the issuance of a Record of Decision on the project. 

The FAA will be the lead agency responsible for overseeing the EIS in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. 

To support the environmental review and assist in the selection of the consultant, the Port Authority submitted to the FAA a set of initial documents including 1) its analysis of a wide range of alternatives that are on the table as part of the review process; 2) an examination of projected ridership of AirTrain through a passenger preference survey and a ground choice access model; 3) a study on increased traffic congestion between LaGuardia Airport and Midtown Manhattan, the airport’s largest passenger market.

The alternatives analysis identifies 20 options to improve access to the airport, including exclusive bus lanes, improvements to the existing transportation system, ferry service, five separate potential off-airport locations for fixed guideway terminals, and previously proposed extensions of the Astoria subway line.

The alternatives analysis also identifies the Port Authority’s “preferred alternative” as an elevated train operating between LaGuardia and an off-airport station at Willets Point, with transfers to the Long Island Rail Road and the MTA’s No. 7 subway line with direct connections to Grand Central Terminal and New York Penn Station. The Port Authority’s plan calls for two on-airport stations as part of LaGuardia’s $8 billion redevelopment.

The ridership analysis submitted to the FAA indicates that between 6.6 million and 10 million annual trips would be taken on AirTrain LGA in its early years of operation. That range would rise to 8.4-12 million annual trips by 2045.

A study by Sam Schwartz Engineers, a traffic and transportation planning and engineering firm, found that between 2014 and 2017, the number of days on which peak travel times between LGA and Midtown occurred that were greater than 70 minutes, increased more than fivefold – to 114 days of the year. That represents nearly one in every three days. The unpredictable variability of travel times means passengers must budget more and more time to avoid missing a flight. Today, budgeted time from Midtown is approximately an hour. By 2045, in a world of autonomous vehicles and when LaGuardia’s annual passenger volume is anticipated to grow to more than 40 million up from the 2017 record of 29.5 million, the budgeted travel time to and from Midtown is projected to double to nearly two hours.

The RFP and supporting documents can be found here >>>

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USA: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a $13 billion plan to transform John F. Kennedy International Airport into a modern 21st century airport anchored by two new world-class international terminal complexes on the airport's north and south sides. This investment — including $12 billion in private funding — advances the Governor's vision for a unified and interconnected airport system with modern passenger amenities, centralized ground transportation options and improved roadways that collectively will increase the airport's capacity by at least 15 million passengers a year.

"This historic investment to modernize JFK Airport and the surrounding transportation network will not only ease travel through this major hub, but it will ensure JFK joins the ranks as one of the finest airports in the world," Governor Cuomo said.

The Governor's JFK Vision Plan, initially unveiled in January 2017 and based on the recommendations from the Governor's Airport Advisory Panel, calls for an overhaul of the airport's hodgepodge of eight disparate terminal sites into one unified JFK Airport by demolishing old terminals, utilizing vacant space, and modernizing on-airport infrastructure, while incorporating the latest in passenger amenities and technological innovations. The Vision Plan also calls for increasing the number and size of gates, improving parking availability, an array of airside taxiway improvements to allow for bigger planes and reduced gate congestion, upgrading the AirTrain JFK system to handle increased passenger capacity, and enhanced roadways on and off the airport.

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Cuomo's announcement follows the selection in September 2017 of a master planning team for the redevelopment of the airport, led by Mott MacDonald and Grimshaw Architects.

The plans for the two terminals will now be submitted to the Port Authority's Board of Commissioners. Once lease terms are finalised, the leases will be subject to final Board approval. Additional discussions with multiple other airlines and terminal operators remain ongoing to further advance the goals of the Vision Plan.

The proposed new $7 billion, 2.9 million square foot terminal on the airport's south side will be developed by the Terminal One Group, a consortium of four international airlines—Lufthansa, Air France, Japan Airlines and Korean Air Lines. The complex will be operated by Munich Airport International and also be connected to the existing Terminal 4.

On the airport's north side, the proposed new $3 billion, 1.2 million square foot terminal will be developed by JetBlue.

Construction is expected to begin in 2020 with the first new gates opening in 2023 and substantial completion expected in 2025.

An additional $2 billion in private non-Port Authority funding will be allocated to an array of critical infrastructure upgrades.

With respect to mass transit, the Port Authority will be adding 50 percent capacity to the AirTrain JFK system as well as increasing frequency of service to keep up with rising demand. More than 7.6 million paid passengers used the system in 2017, with another 12.6 million more riding it to connect between terminals and access ground transportation. Additionally, at Jamaica Station the Long Island Rail Road is constructing a new, 12-car platform that will increase capacity for those traveling to and from JFK.

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ISRAEL: Israel Railways have officially opened the new high speed rail link between Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport and Jerusalem on 25 September 2018. The trains will operate every half hour and it will take 21 minutes to travel from the city centre to the airport.

This is just a part opening of the line, in the coming months the line will be extended, first to Tel Aviv’s stations and eventually to Herzliya. When completed, the journey between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem will take under half an hour.