News Archive

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UAE: The Annual Middle East Rail Conference is the region’s largest rail exhibition which attracts government, transport authorities and world-class solution providers. The 2015 conference was held at the Dubai World Trade Centre on the 17th and 18th of March.

The Middle East Rail vision is to interact with leaders of the fastest growing rail industry in the world. Over $300 billion is invested into passenger and freight rail projects over the next decade.

“The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) aspire to gather all suppliers and expert to discuss issues and challenges in order to provide recommendation to reach the best rail efficiency,” said the Director General of the Federal Transport Authority, H.E. Salem Al Zaabi.

The Middle East rail market is growing rapidly and strategically. The estimated rail investment are as follows:

  • GCC countries- $200 Billion USD
  • Saudi Arabia- $97 Billion USD
  • Qatar- $43 Billion USD
  • UAE- $25 Billion USD
  • Kuwait- $7 Billion USD.

This makes the region one of the strongest rail markets worldwide. The project includes: 10,000s km of mainline railway, 1,000 km of metro rail, and 100s of stations depots and other facilities.

The main goals are to link all GCC countries by unifying legislations with international norms, coordinate all transports, implement safety and efficiency, and develop a strong maintenance strategy for “smart trains”. Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim Al Twaijry from the League of Arab States declared that project and engineering plans would be finalised in 2015.

The Director General of the FTA said the UAE is the main hub and plays an important role to connect ports with rail across the regions. Their priority is to work closely with the FTA on the regulations of the rail industry and ensure safety. They also want to integrate the UAE rail network with the GCC region network.

H.E. Dr. Shbeeb, Minister of Transport Jordan said: “The key to success is to create and integrated package.” Transport of Jordan plans to link south/north and west/east regions with 940km of rail.

The Minister of Transport of Algeria shared their project to link 2,500km of railway and 12,000km of rapid transit for all cities of Algeria.

Morocco’s national program contract aims to get a better rail network performance, improve rail services, profitability, competitiveness and productivity with a $1Billion USD investment. There are currently 20 projects for 2,743km of rail.

Carlo Ratti from SENSEable Cities Lab at MIT wants to create smarter systems for smarter cities. His project from Rome to New York outlines how data analysis can help the GCC region to develop the most efficient rail projects.

Jumpstarter and Hyperloop Transport Technology CEO Dirk Alhborn proposed plans for the transformative Hyperloop. It would break a speed record of 470mph by using magnetic technology which propels the train along as it floats above a magnetic rail inside a vacuum.

SkyTran, a rapid transit system suspended from elevated magnetic levitation tracks, is the next wave in transportation with high speed, energy efficient and low cost for India.

Middle East Rail is the “annual one-stop-shop for buying, learning and choosing partners.” The implementation of the rail transport network in the UAE will be very important in the upcoming years.

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UK: Network Rail has awarded Jacobs Engineering Group a contract to support its proposed new rail link from the west of England to London Heathrow airport.

The proposed Western Rail Access to Heathrow includes a new direct, double track link between the Great Western main line at Langley in Berkshire (16 miles west of Paddington Station in London) into Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport. The link is expected to provide greater connectivity from south Wales, the west of England and the Thames Valley; making journeys faster, reducing congestion on other routes, and providing significant economic benefits for businesses in the region. The project also aims to reduce CO2 emissions by the equivalent of a million road passenger trips to and from Heathrow.

Company officials did not disclose the contract value, but noted that the work is being executed over the next 12 months from Jacobs’ offices in the UK.

Under the terms of the contract, Jacobs is producing a design for Network Rail’s Development Consent Order, which is expected to be submitted in early 2016. Jacobs’ scope of work includes topographical surveys and geotechnical investigations, tunnelling design for the new 3.1 mile (5 km) route, and railway systems designs for track and overhead line equipment.

heathrow web

Network Rail’s Signalling Design Group is producing the signalling design for system integration by Jacobs as lead designer. Jacobs is also providing environmental surveys and impact assessment (EIA) to inform optimization of the tunnel route and location and design of surface structures. An environmental mitigation programme is being developed as part of the EIA to minimise impact on local residents and the environment during both construction and operation phases.

Jacobs Group Vice President Bob Duff stated, “Jacobs is delighted to continue to leverage our global rail experience on this planned project. We look forward to contributing tangible solutions to support Network Rail’s emphasis on sustainable design at the heart of the new rail link.”

Jacobs delivered pre-feasibility and feasibility studies in the early planning stage of the project which identified significant potential cost savings. Currently in public consultation, if the Western Rail Access plans are approved, it is expected that the new service would be in operation by 2021.

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SWEDEN: Arlanda Express has launched a new app, making it simpler to buy tickets via mobile device.

Travellers can also use the app to access real-time information about the traffic situation, timetables and various special offers.

“During the development of this new app we placed great emphasis on security. We have also been helped by travellers who have tested the app’s user-friendliness and provided us with valuable feedback about improvements,” says Per Thorstenson, CEO of Arlanda Express.

The first time passengers use the app, they will need to create a profile and register a charge card.

The app has been created by a Swedish company Accumulate and is available for both iOS and Android mobiles.

Arlanda Express App

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UK: London Stansted Airport is calling on the Government to use the new East Anglia rail franchise as an opportunity to adopt a joined-up approach to tackling rail and aviation capacity issues.

Working in partnership with the Stansted Airport Transport Forum, the Airport has highlighted 12 key commitments that should be part of the new franchise, which will come into operation in October 2016. In particular, the new rail operator should commit to:

  • Working with Network Rail to reduce journey times between Stansted and London to 40 minutes by no later than 2019
  • Identifying creative solutions for running non-stop services to and from the airport during the early morning/late evening and accommodating an additional Stratford service to meet growing demand in east London
  • Introducing an early morning service (03.40) from London Liverpool Street to Stansted seven days a week by 2017 and increasing the number of services to Cambridge and beyond
  • Exploring opportunities with Network Rail to extend operations to 24 hour, seven days a week
  • Rolling out contactless payment and smart card technology on the Stansted Express within two years of new franchise

Stansted has the ability to double its current throughput of 20 million passengers a year to serve over 40 million passengers and play an important role in meeting aviation demand in London and south-east over the next decade.

Stansted Express

Improved rail connectivity on the West Anglia Mainline will be critical to enabling the airport to fulfil this potential by providing passengers with more choice of airlines and greater competition with other airports while at the same time helping support growth and regeneration along the London-Stansted-Cambridge economic corridor.

Andrew Harrison, Stansted’s Managing Director said:
“The new franchise provides a timely and significant opportunity for Government to bring together improvements to rail services and rail infrastructure in a way that will be hugely beneficial for passengers, and enable Stansted to play its full part in meeting the UK's capacity needs.

“In tendering the new franchise, it is important that the Department for Transport recognises the urgent need for improvements in rail connectivity to Stansted. The new franchise will enable the Department to deliver improved rail infrastructure and improved train services in parallel, providing the maximum benefit for airport users and commuters alike.

“As the Airports Commission has recognised, Stansted has a big part to play in meeting the UK's future capacity needs. Because of this, the franchise process should provide strong and clear incentives to bidders to focus on meeting the needs of airport passengers, with a particular emphasis on delivering fast, frequent and reliable rail services that provide value for money and a great door to door passenger experience.

“We look forward to working closely with interested bidders to develop innovative proposals for delivering a step change in the quality of rail services to and from Stansted and the wider region.”

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USA: Orlando International Airport has begun its $1.1 billion expansion and renovation project, the largest in the airport’s history.

Simultaneous construction on the South Airport APM Complex and Intermodal Transportation Facility (ITF), along with enhancements at the North Terminal Facility, will not only change the face of Orlando International Airport but will impact Central Florida’s economic landscape as well. Orlando International contributes an estimated $31 billion annually to the region’s economy.

“By approving the funding for these ambitious and essential projects, the Board has provided the resources necessary to keep moving forward,” said Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Chairman Frank Kruppenbacher. “Our goal is to remain at the forefront of innovation and customer service by building to meet future demand.”

Orlando Airport web

In its continuing effort to prepare for a projected increase in passenger traffic and evolving aviation trends, MCO has initiated several projects to expand capacity, expedite international processing and improve the overall travel experience.

  • Improvements to the North Terminal Complex include expansion of the ticket lobbies in Terminals A & B to incorporate new technology and provide greater capacity; baggage system improvements for increased efficiency and security; renovation of curbside canopies; construction of a new central energy plant; and construction of a new north cell phone lot with restrooms.
  • Airside 4 improvements include expanding Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities; adding international gates to accommodate larger aircraft; and renovating restroom facilities.
  • Automated People Mover (APM) train replacement for Airsides 1 & 3.
  • South Airport APM Complex & ITF will increase multi-modal transportation access, which can accommodate up to four rail systems, and provide greater connectivity to the region and the state.

The economic impact will be felt in the creation of jobs and the inclusion of local and minority-owned businesses in the process.

“To ensure participation from minority and small business firms, the Authority has conducted extensive community outreach sessions,” said Phil Brown, Executive Director of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “As a result of those efforts, 296 firms have been pre-qualified to participate in these and future Authority projects.”

There are currently 450 total firms actually working on various construction projects for the Authority. Construction is projected to be completed by the Summer of 2017.