News Archive

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USA: Newark Liberty International Airport is looking to get a new monorail. On April 30th the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) voted to move forward with a $40 million planning commitment to study the construction of a new system.

It is unknown when the project would begin or end and PANYNJ has not publicly estimated the cost of a new system. Port Authority commissioners have authorized spending $40 million on planning consultants for the project and $30 million on technical experts.

“AirTrain Newark is an important resource for passengers and workers at Newark Liberty, but like much of our regional transportation infrastructure it is showing its age," said Port Authority Chairman John Degnan. "Today’s action will begin the process of updating the AirTrain system as part of the ongoing modernization and improvement of Newark Liberty.”

The current 19 year old AirTrain runs for free within the airport. Problems include service interruptions due to power failures, accidents and maintenance. Last summer, it closed for two months to fill potholes in the steel and epoxy running surface.

"Although substantial investment has been made to maintain current operations, such investment has not extended the 25-year design life of the system, nor has it expanded capacity," the resolution proposal read.

The plans will ask the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to use $40 million in airline ticket surcharges to offset the planning cost.

A remodelling like this could be especially necessary once Port Authority finishes its extension of the PATH rail line to the airport from Newark Penn Station. The estimated $1.5 billion project taken on four months ago is expected to be completed in 2024.  

Overall, considering both direct and indirect jobs, the award voted in yesterday is projected to create $60.6 million in economic activity over the life of the planning process.

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USA: Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) announced April 27th that the second phase of the Metro’s Silver Line will be delayed by 13 months.

The project will connect Dulles International Airport to the rest of the rail network. But will remain road-only access until late 2019 or even 2020 rather than their former target of 2018.

There will be over 150 design modifications to Phase 2 of the Silver Line, which will include several stops in Loudoun County—an extension of the original Reston to Ashburn track.

MWAA also said that Phase 1 needs another $76 million worth of finishing touches, adding 2.6 percent to its $2.9 billion cost, though the additional figure is still within its federally approved budget of $2.9 billion. Phase 2, which will run 11.5 miles (18.5 km), is expected to cost $2.7 billion.

Airports Authority CEO, Jack Potter, said: “The added costs arising from Phase 2 design modifications will remain within the Phase 2 contingency budget of $550 million and will have no effect on the toll rates on the Dulles Toll Road.”

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TAIWAN: Taoyuan International Airport’s MRT ran its first test ride open to the public April 23rd with the service to become fully operational by the end of the year.

The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system links Taipei with Taiwan's main airport. Government officials, members of the public, national press, and lawmakers from the Legislature’s Transport Committee got to preview the service.

Lawmakers reported that they were satisfied with the trial run but were concerned about luggage sufficiency. Another criticism is that the computer interface has not been switched from simplified Chinese to traditional characters.

The Transportation Minister Chen Chien-yu, who boarded the 29-minute test ride alongside government officials, said the system needs to be perfected but is on track to begin operations on time in December.

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According to Transportation Ministry, the system is 95.75 percent complete as of March.

Trains will run every 10 minutes during rush hour and take passengers from Taipei Main Station to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in 35 minutes.

The total budget for the project is roughly NT$113.85 billion and has 22 stops in total along a 51 km track.

Trains will be equipped with real-time flight data displays and individual reading lights for passengers.

A terminus at Taipei Main Station will allow passengers to check in and pick up their boarding passes before embarking toward the airport.

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UK: Heathrow Express (HEx) is the first rail company in the UK to install platform gap-fillers at its stations to reduce the risk of passenger accidents.

The bespoke gap-fillers sit along the edge of station platforms reducing the size of the gap between the train and platform edge.

Stepboard accidents are a concern of the whole rail industry. They occur when a passenger falls between the train and the platform edge. They are responsible for 48% of the overall fatality risk to passengers, and cause knock-on delays to train services while the passenger’s welfare is being looked after. The gap-fillers work to reduce the risk of these accidents.

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A year-long trial at HEx’s Heathrow Terminal 5 station found there were no stepboard incidents wherever gap-fillers were in use. The devices are now set to be installed at all Heathrow Express train stations by the end of May.

Joanne Lewis, head of safety for Heathrow Express, said: “Our top priority is ensuring Heathrow Express, and the rail industry as a whole, is as safe as possible for customers and employees.
“Stepboard accidents are a concern across the rail industry, and for good reason; they can be fatal. With demand for rail travel predicted to double over the next 30 years in the UK, devices like gap-fillers could be a big help.”

The platform gap-fillers, designed by Australian company Delkor Rail, also enhance access for disabled passengers, and improve efficiency of passenger boarding, reducing the number of delays.
Heathrow Express, which carries 17,000 people a day between Paddington and Heathrow, is now working with the Rail Safety & Standards Board (RSSB) and other train operating companies (TOCs) in developing industry-wide National Platform Train Interface (PTI) and Platform Gap-Filler strategies.

Heathrow Express already has step-free access, ideal for wheelchair-users and buggies, to all its stations - three at Heathrow and platforms 6 and 7 at Paddington, owned and managed by Network Rail. Heathrow Express also has level access to its trains from all its station platforms.

The platform gap-fillers were trialled at each end of platform four at Heathrow Express’s Terminal 5 (T5) station between March 2014 and March 2015. During this time there were no stepboard incidents in the areas where the gap fillers were located.

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CANADA: NCR Corporation, the consumer transaction technologies’ company, has announced that Union Pearson Express (UP Express) has selected the NCR TouchPort 100 check-in solution for three key stations along the Union to Pearson route to the Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Opening on 6th of June, the UP Express will connect Toronto Pearson International Airport with Union Station in downtown Toronto in just 25 minutes.

The rollout of NCR TouchPort 100 will support UP Express’s efforts to improve the travellers’ experience as the NCR solution can be used to check-in while passengers wait for a train. An ‘all-in-one’ common-use kiosk will allow a customer to check-in, print a boarding pass, and other airline specific capabilities.

Several factors led to UP Express’s adoption of the solution, including software integration, ease of use and value. When searching for a modern check-in system, UP Express looked for one that could adapt to its environment. UP Express’s key purpose was to provide a convenience to their customers to avoid waiting in line upon arrival at the airport and to make it as seamless a process as possible during peak hours for travellers to quickly check-in.

In addition to improving the travellers’ experience, UP Express also selected the NCR solution because of its user-friendly interface. Travelers can use the solution with minimal or no instruction which enables the platform to deliver instant value to UP Express.

“Travellers increasingly seek out alternatives that will expedite their check-in experience, and this is especially important in an environment where time is especially precious,” said Dennis Davidson, vice president of Travel, NCR Corporation. ”NCR has enabled UP Express to deliver an innovative and convenient check-in experience that will serve travellers well for years to come.”