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SOUTH AFRICA: This month Gautrain celebrates 100 months of operation, having transported in excess of 86 million train passengers, as well as 25 million bus passengers to date.

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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.

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NS Market Share 2018

Leading passenger transport and operations consultancy North Star, has released its sixth annual Global Air-Rail Market Share Report. The report evaluates a sample of worldwide Market Share trends of rail connections to airports.

North Star assessed a combined 50 million air-rail passenger journeys, which occurred during 2017, from a sample of air-rail operators in Australia, South Africa, Malaysia, China, the United Kingdom, France, Austria, Russia and other locations.

Market share is calculated as the percentage of airport passengers that use each rail service to travel to and/or from the airport and the city centre. Passenger numbers used, exclude airport transit passengers and staff. The market share index sums the collective change in market share on the year-by-year basis, adding it to a baseline figure of 100.

Whilst acknowledging the vast worldwide patronage that continues to use air-rail connections, North Star’s Managing Director Richard Brown recognised the ongoing headwinds facing the industry. Mr Brown reported that for the second consecutive year, North Star’s analysed Market Share index reduced.

“The industry continues to experience increased competition from ride share and car-hailing competitors”, reported Mr Brown. “Like many established industries, Air-Rail has been confronted with disruption. On the other hand, our sample operators reported that ongoing road congestion to and from airports remains a compelling reason why passengers choose rail as their preferred transport mode.”

Reflecting on North Star’s sixth report, Mr Brown observed the findings on marketing and fare promotions.

“The long-term data indicates the persuasive evidence that investment in marketing supports Market Share growth”, he said. “And interestingly, a number of our operators have been successful in moving the Market Share dial via fare discounts and promotions. We are seeing a range of exciting approaches to marketing and fare pricing from many of our sample operators”.

Sydney Airport Link’s Chief Executive Tim Anderson, who oversees 9 million annual air-rail passenger journeys to Australia’s gateway airport commended on North Star’s report. “It’s very enlightening to read the study and understand what is occurring around the globe. Geographically we are very diverse, but there are many similar challenges and opportunities that we all confront. This report gives us a common bond and communication avenue to expand our businesses.”

From South Africa, Gautrain’s Senior Executive Manager of Communications and Marketing Dr Barbara Jensen echoed a similar response: “It is not only valuable to have an insight into global trends, but it is also valuable to see how Gautrain rates amongst other air rail providers. In addition, the report provides a scientifically sound yet practical review on air rail market share. Definitely a valuable initiative to partner with.”

KLIA Ekspres’ Chief Executive Noormah Mohd Noor added, “The challenges facing us in Kuala Lumpur are similar to those faced by air-rail operators worldwide. However, the initiatives and creative solutions by each operator is different. We strongly believe that we can help one another. The Market Intelligence Report allows this sharing of knowledge, which is what we like and see as the biggest benefit of participating in this report”.

The participants will discuss the report in more detail in London at the Global AirRail London Conference taking place on 27-29 November 2018.

GARA2018 Artwork Sponsors

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Leeds airport rail map

UK: Leeds City Council will call for public consultation to improve road and rail access to the airport.

Leeds Bradford Airport is a key economic asset for Leeds and the wider region, supporting over 5,000 jobs and contributing £336million to the city region economy each year. It is one of the fastest-growing airports in the UK, with passenger numbers predicted by the Department for Transport to rise from four million in 2017 to 7.1million by 2030 and over nine million by 2050.

To support this expected growth at the airport and to support job creation in the wider north west Leeds, the council working with West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds Bradford Airport and key stakeholders has put forward some key investment proposals, including a new airport parkway rail station, located on the existing Leeds-Harrogate Line, with a short connecting spur road to the airport to provide a shuttle bus connection similar to that at Luton Airport. This would also serve as a park and ride service for destinations on the Leeds-Harrogate Line and beyond.

Improving rail access to the airport has long been an ambition for Leeds, but the location of Leeds Bradford Airport and its topography meant any direct rail connection would be very difficult to achieve and would be prohibitively expensive.

According to the Council, the potential for a parkway station nearby to serve the airport by rail and both Leeds and Harrogate has now come about as part of the Connecting Leeds transport strategy, with the city receiving funding of £173.5m from the government to invest in transport network improvements.

Offering rail connectivity to the airport does not, however, remove the need for better road access.

“The latest figures from regional airports including Manchester show that 84 per cent of passengers travel to the airport by car or taxi despite there being direct rail links. Therefore, as Leeds Bradford Airport continues to grow, it is vital that we look at ways to alleviate increased traffic on the road network in north west Leeds as well as plans for a rail connection, Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said.

All of the key details on the proposals to be considered together will be available in the consultation, to take place early in 2019.

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POLAND: Polish railway company PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe SA has received EU funding for the reconstruction and modernisation of the partially disused railway line connecting Tarnowskie Góry and Zawiercie.

The EUR 117 million investment comes from the Operational Program Infrastructure and Environment 2014-2020 and will create a new direct rail access to Katowice Airport. The estimated journey time from Tarnowskie Góry to the airport is 17 minutes and from Zawiercie about 23 minutes.

The total value of the project is EUR 173 million and the construction works are planned to start in 2020 with the estimated opening in 2022.

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ERL x BusOnlineTicket Banner without Price 002

MALAYSIA – Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd (ERL) has partnered with (BOT), an online booking portal for bus tickets and other services such as bus and hotel packages, train tickets, ferry tickets, tour packages, airport transfers and hotel promotions. This partnership is aligned with ERL’s mission to provide a seamless service experience that is fast, reliable, comfortable and convenient for travellers. For a limited time only, BOT customers can enjoy a special launch offer.

Speaking on the partnership, Noormah Mohd Noor, Chief Executive Officer of ERL said, “We are proud and excited to be partnering with BOT. This partnership will expand our customer base and reach out to BOT’s customers. Travellers will be able to plan their journey easily and purchase KLIA Ekspres tickets through BOT’s sales channel.”

Sales Director of BOT, Mr. Chong Kok Chuin also added, “This partnership will surely increase the convenience for travellers, especially tourists visiting the country. We can help ERL reach out to key markets outside Malaysia, such as China and Singapore, while offering our customers a quality airport transfer product. Our booking system is very user-friendly and informative. We are delighted to be partnering with ERL and offer the ease of a one-stop online booking portal service to our mutual customers.”

Starting from 19th September 2018 to 31st October 2018, customers will be able to purchase KLIA Ekspres tickets on and enjoy a special fare of RM48 for a Single Adult Ticket (normal fare RM55).

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GARA2018 Artwork RSSB

Global AirRail Alliance (GARA) and the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), an independent membership organisation which supports the rail industry through research, analysis, and insight, has joined forces to co-host a dedicated workshop during the annual Global AirRail Conference, taking place in London on 27-29 November.

The annual Global AirRail Conference and Awards is the only event bringing airports, rail operators, planners and suppliers from all over the world to discuss the passenger intermodality segment between air and ground.

This year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of GARA with a three day event, taking place in London on 27-29 November. The joint GARA and RSSB workshop will take place on 27 November and discuss key research projects on increasing market share of passengers accessing airports by rail, pricing and fare policies, impact of smart ticketing to revenues and much more.

The workshop is included in the three-day event ticket, but places are limited, so register today to guarantee your space in this interactive discussion!

Click here to register for the event >>>

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AirRailMelbourne CustomerJourney

AUSTRALIA: An Australian pension fund consortium has announced a detailed plan for Melbourne’s long-awaited airport rail link, promising the fastest travel times, a premium around-the-clock service and enhanced access for regional Victorians.

AirRail Melbourne, comprising IFM Investors, Melbourne Airport, Metro Trains Australia and Southern Cross Station, have unveiled its blueprint for the development of the rail link with the Victorian and Australian Governments.
Under the $15 billion plan, AirRail Melbourne is proposing to match the $5 billion funding announced by both the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments to build a world-class link that unlocks additional rail capacity and creates thousands of new jobs.
"As Melbourne marches toward becoming Australia’s largest city our infrastructure needs to keep pace. Key to this is the development of the airport and all its elements to cope with a near doubling of passengers over the next 20 years. As we expand our runways and terminal facilities we also need world-class linkages between the airport and the city. Our vision is for a seamless passenger experience at the airport, properly integrated between the train carriage and the terminal, Melbourne Airport chief executive officer Lyell Strambi said.”

The airport rail link would offer 20 minute travel time to the city, with trains running 24/7 with 10 minute intervals during peak periods. One way ticket is estimated to cost less than $20 in today's prices.

If the plan is approved, the construction could start in late 2020.

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RUSSIA: RZD International and the group of Vietnamese investors headed by Lung Lo Construction Corporation, signed a partnership agreement on the Project of Construction of the Light Metro Line linking Tan Tạo - Linh Dong - Long Thanh Airport in Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Nai Province.

Under the agreement RZD International will provide expert support and prepare preliminary feasibility study for the project.

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USA: The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) has started the renovation and expansion work on the BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport rail station.

The $4.7 million renovation will include an expanded waiting area, new ticketing facilities, a concession area and restrooms. Construction is expected to last 14 months.

“Our customers truly will appreciate the new features in the renovated MARC station at BWI,” said Andrea Farmer, MDOT MTA’s director of MARC Train. “We will provide not only a more aesthetically pleasing station, but a much more functional facility to best meet the needs of our riders.”

During construction, the station will continue to be open for both train and bus service. A temporary station at the north end of the site will continue to provide MARC and Amtrak customers with ticketing services, a waiting area and restrooms.

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Helsinki rail

FINLAND: Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) has approved all seven bidders who submitted the applications to operate commuter rail service, including the airport Ring Rail Line service, for 10 years starting in June 2021.

The approved bidders include two state rail companies - Finland's VR Group Ltd and SJ AB from Sweden. The remaining five bidders are Arriva Sverige AB, MTR Nordic AB, Transdev Sverige AB, First Rail Holdings and The Go-Ahead Group plc.

HSL will now conduct individual negotiations with the bidders with the aim to ensure that all the necessary details in the bidding and contract are taken into account.

"We are very pleased that so many qualified applicants participate in the bidding process. We have good chances to reach the goals of the competition," CEO HSL Suvi Rihtniemi said.

According to Rihtniemi, the goal of the tender is to provide a better functioning commuter rail services with lower costs. New operators will be task to improve the quality and reliability of the rail service as well as better integrate it to the wider public transport system in Helsinki.

The winner of the bidding is due to be announced in April 2020. The successful tenderer will be awarded a 10-year contract for managing and operating the commuter rail services in Helsinki area from June 2021. 

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Lufthansa Express Rail web

GERMANY: Lufthansa is increasing its Express Rail partnership with Deutsche Bahn allowing customers to book a seamless flight and train journey from Frankfurt Airport to selected rail stations in Germany.

The Lufthansa Express Rail service destinations will increase from eight to twenty new city hubs, with new stations gradually being added in Göttingen, Kassel, Erfurt and Aachen in September; Freiburg and Ulm in December; Essen, Bochum, Duisburg, Wuppertal, Oberhausen and Bonn in early summer next year.

Lufthansa Express Rail is already available from Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Mannheim, Karlsruhe,
Stuttgart, Nuremberg and Würzburg.

Lufthansa passengers can book any of those destinations on the airline's website and receive a single ticket covering their flight to or from Frankfurt Airport and a train journey on Deutsche Bahn.

"Easy booking, easy change-over and a direct connection to the world. The Lufthansa Premium understanding is to be able to make each customer an individual offer according to their needs. This cooperation aims precisely at this. In addition, Lufthansa is responding to the growing importance
of networked mobility. Simple - global!," Harry Hohmeister, Member of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG and responsible for hub management said.

"We want to offer our customers the simplest and most comfortable door-to-door travel chain possible," emphasizes Berthold Huber, Board Member for Passenger Transport at Deutsche Bahn AG. "The seamless transition from rail to air, which enables our cooperation with Lufthansa, ideally complements our portfolio as a provider of networked mobility."

Up to eight daily connections per departure point provide a convenient link to Lufthansa flights in Frankfurt. Lufthansa Express Rail guests also benefit from a reserved seat on the train, Miles&More loyalty points and a guaranteed connection. In the event of an unexpected delay of train or flight, Lufthansa will change to another connection free of charge. Business class guests travel in the first class of Deutsche Bahn and have access to the DB lounges.

Check-in and seat allocation for the Lufthansa Express Rail Service can also be done online via or mobile via the Lufthansa App. The boarding pass serves as a ticket for the booked Lufthansa Express Rail connection. At the AiRail Terminal in Frankfurt, Lufthansa Express Rail guests can check in their baggage and pick it up again.

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Haramain Rail Project

SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi Minister of Transport Nabil bin Mohammed Al Amoudi has inspected the preparations and readiness of the 450km Haramain High Speed Rail project on 4th September.

Once completed the new railway line will link the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah via Jeddah, King Abdulaziz International Airport, and King Abdullah Economic City.

After inspecting the stations and taking the test ride on the train, the Minister has confirmed the operational readiness of the project.

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UK: The second Airport Access Ideas Forum was co-hosted by the Global AirRail Alliance and the law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman UK LLP on 27 June in London, and focused on how autonomous vehicles technology and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) will impact airport infrastructure, revenues and public transport access.

Airport Access Ideas Forum is an interactive discussion event designed to highlight the changing mobility technology and behaviours and the key challenges airports will be facing in the long-term future to provide seamless and efficient ground transport access for passengers and employees.

The goal of the Airport Access Ideas Forum is to produce an Industry Recommendation Report highlighting the key challenges airports are facing, what can be done today to address them and what opportunities embracing new mobility solutions can bring in the long-term future.

You can download the Industry Recommendation Report here >>>

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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.