Posted on in Members' News

The Southern Cross Station (SCS) precinct is Australia's only privately operated transport precinct and delivers services to over 75 million patrons per year. The station precinct is Australia's largest transportation hub with the integrated hub of rail, bus, retail, commercial and public space and continues to evolve as Victoria's transport system grows. The precinct provides critical links to Victoria’s Metropolitan Rail Network, Regional Rail Network, Interstate Rail and Coach Services and Melbourne Airports.

“We are very happy to join the Global AirRail Alliance, and look forward to being able to both contribute to, and engage with, the GARA community. SCS, Australia’s largest transportation hub, is well placed to facilitate access to the Melbourne CBD and provide extensive regional connectivity as Government planning commences for the long-awaited Melbourne airport rail link. We look forward to the continued development of this project and the opportunity to share our experience with members”, Senior Associate of Infrastructure, Josh Norton said.

Posted on in News

Groupe ADP Navya

FRANCE: Groupe ADP has just launched a trial of two fully electric, driverless shuttles – the first at a French airport. Located in the heart of the airport's business district, Roissypôle, they connect the suburban train station (RER) to the Environmental and Sustainable Development Resource Centre and Groupe ADP's headquarters.

Keolis, the operator, has joined forces with Navya, the French autonomous shuttle designer, to carry out the pilot project until July 2018. This initial trial represents an important milestone in Groupe ADP’s strategy to become a key player in the autonomous vehicle ecosystem. The aim of the pilot is to test how the automated vehicles will behave on a high-traffic roadway, as well as how they merge and pass within an extremely dense environment that includes many pedestrians.

An intelligent road infrastructure system that uses traffic signals to communicate dynamically with the shuttles has been set up in order to optimise the crossing of the road in complete safety. Feedback from users (employees and passengers) is also one of the trial's determining factors.

According to Groupe ADP, the new autonomous mobility solutions are a strategic concern for the development and competitiveness for airports, as they help enhance service quality and the reliability of the various transportation modes used, in addition to improving road network flow around major hubs. This initial step will allow Groupe ADP to subsequently roll out this technology on other sites and with other applications, within a multifaceted area like the airport city.

“Autonomous transport services will play a key role in our aim to create a new generation of connected airports. With this first trial, Groupe ADP is paving the way for developing this technology within our airport networks in France and abroad. In these constrained environments, autonomous technology is a lever for optimizing infrastructures for of a new mobility offer. Our airports' mobility needs are quite considerable – between the various terminals, car parks and departure areas, or even airside – and could lead us to develop an autonomous vehicle fleet in the future. Within the framework of our Innovation Hub programme, the future of mobility is being built in the heart of the airport city", stated Edward Arkwright, Deputy CEO of Groupe ADP.

The two shuttles, accessible to persons with reduced mobility, can carry up to 11 seated and 4 standing passengers. Each can reach 25 km/h on a 700-metre-long track. The service operates from 07:30 am to 08:00 pm and is free. An on-demand shuttle service is available by scanning a QR code with a smartphone.

“Keolis and the ADP Group have been working closely for several years now in order to develop mobility services adapted to the airport zones of the Paris region. Keolis is proud to be supporting the ADP Group in their new autonomous vehicle trial, which enhances the range of services that we already provide them with, including the management of the Roissypôle bus station, the shuttle buses for Orly Airport, as well as our partnership with Le Bus Direct, a premium coach service between Paris and Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports. This is Keolis’ second autonomous shuttle project in the Greater Paris region, following the launch of a first trial in Paris’ La Defense business district in July 2017, with the local transport authority, Ile-de-France Mobilités,”said Youenn Dupuis, Keolis’ Deputy CEO for Greater Paris region.

"NAVYA is delighted to be marking out the airport of the future together with Groupe ADP and Keolis. The airport of the future is based on smart and specially adapted mobility solutions that are able to communicate with the infrastructure that we have set up at Roissypôle with Groupe ADP. Airports are areas where the traffic is extremely concentrated and so it is really important to manage and optimise the flow. The aim of this trial is from now on, to provide a service that takes into account future deployments," states NAVYA CEO Christophe Sapet.

Posted on in Members' News

Gatwick airport entrance 01

UK: Network Rail, in partnership with Gatwick Airport Ltd, Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership and the Department for Transport, has submitted proposals to reduce congestion and improve passenger experience at the station, which serves 19m passengers a year – up from 7.5m 20 years ago.

The proposals submitted to Crawley Borough Council aim to reduce crowding at the station, improve passenger flow and provide better connections between the railway station, airport terminals and onward travel destinations.

Proposed improvements include:

  • Almost doubling the size of the rail station concourse
  • Eight new escalators, five new lifts and four new stairways to improve accessibility and passenger flow
  • Widening platforms 5 and 6 to reduce overcrowding
  • Better connections to the south terminal with improved passenger information
  • An attractive new roof structure
  • The proposals will accommodate forecast rail growth up to 2036.

John Halsall, Network Rail manager director for the South East route, said: “The proposals will transform passenger experience, support airport growth and, along with other upgrades of the Brighton Main Line – the £300m reliability fund and our proposals for Croydon – improve journeys and provide a boost to the local, regional and national economy.”

Guy Stephenson, Chief Commercial Officer, Gatwick Airport, said: “The new Gatwick station is set to reduce congestion and give passengers a much improved experience, including a more seamless transition between airport and station. The new station also complements the transformation of train services at Gatwick. Later this year trains will start leaving Gatwick for London with tube-like frequency – every three minutes – and new direct services will start to Cambridge and Peterborough for the first time ever.”

Stephen Maccallaugh, GTR's Head of Gatwick Express, said: "The growing popularity of Gatwick and its increasing passenger numbers is a real positive for the airport and the station. This news highlights plans to significantly enhance the customer experience and ensure the station meets the changing demands of the airport and its customers, and it will be greatly welcomed by our passengers and our teams that work at the station and airport."

Indicative project timeline:

  • Crawley Borough Council will determine the planning application in spring 2018
  • Funding parties will make a final decision on the project in autumn 2018
  • Construction begins in 2019
  • Project completion in 2022

The project is subject to planning permission and a final decision by all funding parties.

Posted on in News

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CANADA: Ontario Government has committed more than $11 billion in the 2018 Budget to support construction of Phase One of Canada's first high speed rail line. The line will connect Toronto's Union Station, Pearson International Airport, Guelph, Kitchener and London as early as 2025. Electric powered trains moving at up to 250 km/h will cut the travel times to an estimated 48 minutes between Kitchener and Toronto Union Station.

As part of the environmental assessment phase, Ontario is now working with the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) to explore options to connect two-way, all-day service on the Kitchener GO line to the proposed multimodal transit hub at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The major transit hub the GTAA is proposing to build at Pearson will offer seamless connections between trains, buses, airplanes, light rail vehicles and high speed rail along the Toronto-Windsor corridor.

Posted on in Events News

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EVENTS: The second Airport Access Ideas Forum will take place on Wednesday 27th of June in London. The Forum is an event designed to highlight the key challenges airports, city planners and ground transport operators need to prepare for when planning airport access for future users.
Our attendees discuss the latest innovations in passenger mobility and their effect on airport access, including infrastructure planning, revenue and passenger experience. Through interactive discussions the Forum participants look at how new technologies and the sharing economy is changing road access and car parking businesses at airports, as well as the opportunities public transport can deliver for airport operators in terms of non-aeronautical revenue, improved customer experience and business development.
Airport Access Ideas Forum '18 is co-hosted by Katten Muchin Rosenman UK LLP, a full service law firm offering comprehensive and practical legal assistance to a cross section of industries including aviation, transportation construction and engineering sectors. Katten’s attorneys are often sought out for their expertise in aviation, technology and infrastructure, and pride themselves on providing timely advice on a range of issues facing their clients.
The Forum will focus on Autonomous Vehicles Technologies and Mobility as a Service looking into how it will impact the future of airport infrastructure design, non-aeronautical revenues, public transport access mode share and urban development.
"The Airport Access Ideas Forum gives the opportunity for transport professionals to challenge themselves and each other with forward thinking discussions. Carefully selected short and thought provoking presentations will highlight the future of automated and subscription based transport technologies and look at how it will impact airport access for passengers and employees," Director of the Global AirRail Alliance, Milda Manomaityte said.
“We are thrilled to be hosting this year’s Airport Access Ideas Forum. Having worked with clients to discover solutions to some of the issues they face in relation to the topics being covered at the Forum, we are looking forward to hearing the views of the attendees on their vision of the future of transportation and associated industries,” said Alan Meneghetti, a partner in Katten’s London office and who is also the vice-chair of the Worldwide Airport Lawyers Association.

Call for Speakers

We are now calling for companies and airports to submit proposals for presentations and discussions. If you are interested in joining the event, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Posted on in Members' News

Gatwick Oxbotica 2

UK: Gatwick airport is preparing to trial electric-powered autonomous vehicles to shuttle staff across the airfield this summer.

This trial is thought to be the first of its kind for any airport in the world and, if successful, this could be the first step toward widespread use of autonomous vehicles on airfields across the world and could reduce vehicle numbers, emissions and costs.

Currently Gatwick's 300 airside vehicles are stationary 90% of the time - as staff attend to aircraft and passengers.

“If this trial proves successful then in the future we could have an Uber-like service operating across the airfield which staff can hail as and when they need to travel. This trial is just the start and much more research will be needed, but ultimately this could be the beginning of the widespread use of autonomous vehicles on airfields across the world. The new technology is a more efficient way to manage vehicles and could lead to a reduction in the number of vehicles required, emissions and associated costs,” Cathal Corcoran, Chief Information Officer, Gatwick Airport, said.

No passengers or aircraft will be involved in this trial, which will be limited to airside roads between the airport’s North and South terminals.

The trial will be run in partnership with Oxbotica – a company that develops software that enables vehicles to run autonomously without reliance on GPS or any other technology outside the vehicle. Oxbotica vehicles are also currently involved in other trials on UK roads and are currently developing a fleet of autonomous vehicles that will soon be running between Oxford and London. 

“Airports offer an incredibly interesting domain for our autonomous driving software.  There is a huge diversity of vehicles, each with a very specific mission.  The challenge of choreographing all of the activity around an individual plane, or in support of airport operations is immense and we look forward to working closely with Gatwick on this initial pilot that will demonstrate our self-driving technology carrying staff around the airfield,” Dr Graeme Smith, CEO of Oxbotica said.

Data collected from the Gatwick pilot study will demonstrate that autonomous vehicles can work safely on an airfield, which is a complex environment with a wide range of different vehicle types moving in many directions both on and off road systems.

The data will be used in dialogue with the Department of Transport, Civil Aviation Authority and others.  XL Catlin – a global insurance company - is also interested in being part of trial to learn more on autonomous airfield vehicles from an insurance perspective.

"As Oxbotica’s Insurance Partner, XL Catlin are dedicated to enabling the widest possible adoption of this exciting technology by developing and providing the right insurance solutions. This is a great initiative by Gatwick Airport and we are delighted to be part of it," Jason Harris Chief Executive, International, XL Catlin said.

If the trial proves the technology fit for purpose for an airport, then additional uses can be explored.  IATA – the trade body for the world’s airlines – advocates more than 40 use cases for autonomous vehicles including push back tugs, passenger load bridges, baggage vehicles etc.

Posted on in Members' News

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UK: Heathrow Express (HEx) rail service has been preserved to at least 2028 under a new agreement announced today. This agreement, which confirms fast, non-stop rail connections for Heathrow passengers over the next decade, has been approved by the Department for Transport and will see Heathrow Airport retaining the commercial aspects including marketing, ticket pricing and revenue, while FirstGroup’s Great Western Railway (GWR) subsidiary will run the operational aspects of the Heathrow Express service under a management contract from later this year.

As a result of this agreement, a new Heathrow Express Langley depot will no longer be needed. The depot would have been required to service trains because the HS2 building schedule requires HEx to vacate the Old Oak Common depot by the end of 2019.

Heathrow Airport will continue to own the HEx service, and will be responsible for managing rail stations at the airport. Passengers will also benefit from new ticket readers at Heathrow and Paddington, which will allow users of Heathrow Express and TfL Rail (soon to be Elizabeth line) to use pay as you go Oyster or a contactless device.

GWR will manage the introduction of a new, dedicated fleet of trains for the Heathrow Express service, which will be specially converted by December 2019 to provide first class carriages, high speed Wi-Fi, additional luggage racks and on-board entertainment. Until that time the HEx service will continue to be provided by the existing fleet of trains.

Building an integrated transport hub and ensuring at least 50% of Heathrow’s air passengers travel by public transport by 2030 is a priority for Heathrow.

This May, the initial phase of Heathrow Crossrail services will be introduced. From December 2019, and the full opening of the Elizabeth line, rail services to Heathrow will increase from 18 trains per hour today to at least 22 trains per hour. A train will depart Central London to Heathrow on average every two-and-a-half minutes, including:

  • 12 Piccadilly Line trains per hour – 6 trains serving Terminals 2, 3 and 4 and 6 trains serving Terminals 2, 3 and 5
  • 6 Elizabeth line trains per hour – 4 trains serving Terminals 2, 3 and 4 and 2 trains serving Terminals 2, 3 and 5
  • 4 Heathrow Express trains per hour – all trains serving Terminals 2, 3 and 5

Heathrow, the DfT, TfL and Network Rail are also conducting a joint feasibility study into increasing the frequency of the Elizabeth line service to 8 trains an hour by the mid-2020s.

As part of the arrangements, the Department for Transport will progress the development of the proposed new western and southern rail links to Heathrow. These new links would make it quicker and easier for people from the across the south and west of England, and south Wales, to get to the airport.

Rail Minister Jo Johnson said:
“We are investing in the biggest modernisation of the UK rail network since Victorian times and improving the provision and frequency of rail services to Heathrow is crucial to our plans. New western and southern rail links to Heathrow would make getting to the airport quicker and easier for holidaymakers and business travellers across the south west, south Wales and south of England, as well as helping connect UK exporters to new international markets.”

Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said:
“This agreement secures convenient and reliable public transport journeys to Heathrow in this decade and beyond. We have ambitious plans to transform rail journeys into the airport, and our passengers will reap the benefits of having Heathrow at the heart of an integrated, sustainable transport network.”

FirstGroup Chief Executive Tim O'Toole said:
“Today’s agreement demonstrates the transport industry working in partnership for the benefit of passengers, allowing fast and convenient connections to continue on this crucial airport link. We are an experienced rail operator with a strong track record in delivering customer improvements, and through this management contract we look forward to building on this operational expertise, as we work with Heathrow to bring in a dedicated fleet of high-specification trains that will help keep people moving and communities prospering in the future.”

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MetroLink Dublin Route Map

IREALAND: National Transport Authority (NTA) and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) have announced details of the Emerging Preferred Route for MetroLink, the metro service that will serve Dublin Airport and the City Centre.

Public consultation on the project in now under way with MetroLink scheduled to be operational in 2027.

The Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area (2016-2035) envisaged a rail link from the south city centre to Swords. It also envisaged the upgrading of Luas Green Line to metro standard, which would link up to the metro services running north to the airport and beyond, to provide Dublin with “a high capacity, high-frequency cross-city rail corridor”.

Under the National Development Plan 2018-2027, Metro North and Metro South will now proceed as one project known as MetroLink.

National Transport Authority CEO Anne Graham said: “Thanks to MetroLink, there will finally be a rail link to Dublin Airport, and with easy interchange with other modes including bus, Dart and commuter rail. There will be 25 stations in total, 15 of them brand new."

“We have modelled future passenger numbers and we predict that capacity for 15,000 passengers per direction per hour during the busiest peak times will be required along this corridor. We don’t believe that a bus system or a standard Luas line would be able to accommodate that number of passengers and that is why MetroLink makes so much sense."

According to Anne Graham, MetroLink will have the capacity for 30 trains per hour in each direction.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland CEO Michael Nolan said: “What we are publishing here is the Emerging Preferred Route, rather than the final route. Having examined in detail the various alignments and options, the EPR is the one that we feel is the best fit for the project. But we remain open to looking at other proposals, and if people or communities feel there are better ways of doing it, we will of course be happy to consider any alternatives put forward.”

Dublin Airport rail link moves forward

  • 2018 – Consultation on Emerging Preferred Route.
  • 2019 – Application for a Railway Order.
  • 2020 – Granting of Railway Order
  • 2021 – Construction commences
  • 2027 – MetroLink becomes operable

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USA: City of Chicago has announced the selection of two teams to proceed with competing to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the O'Hare Express rail link.

The Boring Company and O’Hare Xpress LLC are now eligible to respond to a Request for Proposals (RFP). The project aims to deliver express service from downtown Chicago to O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in 20 minutes or less, cutting more than 50 percent off current travel times.

“Strengthening connections between Chicago’s economic engines will drive our economy into the future, build on the city’s legacy of innovation and pay dividends for generations to come," Mayor Emanuel said. “Today, we have two teams that have the ability to get the job done and create an express connection between downtown Chicago and O’Hare Airport without a taxpayer subsidy."

The Chicago Infrastructure Trust, on behalf of the City of Chicago, selected the two respondents to proceed to the next phase of the procurement process based on their qualifications and ability to deliver the critical project with no public subsidy. The Boring Company and O’Hare Xpress LLC (Meridiam, Antarctica Capital, JLC Infrastructure, Mott MacDonald and First Transit) are two of the four entities that responded to a Request for Qualification (RFQ) that was issued late last year. Responses to the RFP will be due on May 18, 2018.

“Of the submissions received, these two teams represent the best potential partners to deliver this express service, which will be a key part of Chicago’s continued economic growth,” Chicago Treasurer and CIT Chair Kurt Summers said. “The CIT’s role as a specialized resource to the City focused on infrastructure financing and development involvement makes it the clear choice to take a lead as we seek a partner for this truly transformative and historic project.”

The RFP specifies that the O'Hare Express Service should include a downtown station, an ORD station as well as maintenance facilities. Travel corridors may be above or below ground. Service level goals are travel times of 20 minutes or less with service frequency of at least every 15 minutes for the majority of the day. Premium service fares must be reasonable and less than the cost of current taxi and ride-share services. Any proposal must also address how potential impacts on existing transportation systems and the environment would be avoided or minimized.

Although cost estimates for the project are not yet known, the RFQ and RFP clearly stipulate that the O'Hare Express Service will be funded solely by project-specific revenues (like fares or advertising) and financed entirely by the developer.

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UK: The Department fro Transport (DfT) has issued a call for ideas on market-led proposals to deliver a new southern rail link to Heathrow Airport.

The link will be one of the first projects under government plans to invite third parties - such as local authorities and private sector companies - to invest in the rail network, over and above the £47 billion the government is already planning for the next five years.

There are already a number of consortia looking to construct the southern link to Heathrow.

Proposed schemes would need to make commercial sense, build on the government’s significant investment in rail infrastructure and have the needs of passengers at their heart, without the over-arching need for government support.

"We are investing in the most significant modernisation of the UK rail network since Victorian times, and I want the knowledge and expertise of investors and local partners to contribute to delivering new connections, more services and better journeys for passengers," Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said.

Posted on in News

Rail Baltica

LATVIA: Eiropas Dzelzcela līnijas (EDZL), the project implementer in Latvia, has awarded the first Rail Baltica construction, design and supervision contract to the PROSIV consortium.

The consortium is made up of three companies - Sintagma from Italy, Prodex from Slovakia and Vektors T from Latvia. The total amount of the contract is 4.5 million euro.

The contract includes the construction of a 4.4km rail spur to Riga Airport as well as the design and construction of the airport station. It is planned to have the station on the same level as the airport terminal check-in hall. A 400 meter platform will serve international and regional trains.

„It will be the first construction project of the railway viaduct and 1435mm standard railway line in Latvia, as well since 1937 – the first construction project of a new passenger station," Andris Linužs, Member of the Management Board of EDZL said. "When implementing the project the continuity of the airport infrastructure and business within its territory will be ensured. It shall require a careful planning of construction works as international airport Riga will simultaneously carry out a number of ambitious projects: along with the construction of Rail Baltica station, the 6th round of the expansion of the airport terminal and the construction of a new air traffic control tower is also planned.”

Ilona Līce, the Chairman of the Management Board of International airport Riga: „A modern and up-to-date airport is not imaginable without a connection to a railway system. The construction of Rail Baltica is in line with the long-term development of the airport as it will strengthen the role of Riga airport as the main transport hub of the Baltics and will improve Latvia's interconnectivity with other European Union countries, will expand the range of potential passengers of Riga Airport both towards Lithuania and Estonia, and will provide additional facilities for passengers to get from the airport to the city.”

Rail Baltica is a railway transport project, which aims to integrate the Baltic States within the European railway network, and at present it covers four European Union countries - Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. It is envisaged to build in the Baltic states new 870 km long European gauge (1435 mm) railway line with a maximum speed of 240 km/h.

Posted on in Events News

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EVENTS: Following Virgin Hyperloop One’s latest project updates at the 2018 Middle East Rail conference, Leanne Wheeler, Senior Consultant for North Star Consultancy, shares with airrail NEWS how we must learn to look past the hype of hyperloop in order to be ready for the day when it changes everything.

Last year’s Middle East Rail conference saw Virgin Hyperloop One make some big promises to a technically minded and expertly sceptical rail audience. Slick, beautifully created marketing presentations envisaged a futuristic landscape where pods would zoom at speeds in excess of 1000km/h (671 mph) through perfectly straight metal tubes, providing seamless, point-to-point travel between neighbouring cities at record speeds in order to redefine regions.

As Virgin Hyperloop One continued its worldwide sales mission throughout 2017, the plaudits came thick and fast. “London to Edinburgh in just 50 minutes!” claimed The Telegraph. “No two GCC cities more than one hour apart!” boasted Gulf News.

Yet the audience at the rail conference that day was left partly enthralled, partly bemused and entirely ready to challenge. Was Virgin Hyperloop One in danger of selling nothing more than hype itself?

Assessing the Present Reality
Since last year’s conference Virgin Hyperloop One has made significant strides in terms of real, tangible progress. The proof of concept was established in May with the world’s first successful test run in a fully constructed loop located in the Nevada desert. The organisation received a large boost when Sir Richard Branson invested in the company and became Chairman of its Board. As the firm seeks further investment to develop its technology, the weight of Branson and the Virgin brand can only help move the commercialisation agenda forward.

That said, no one can deny that concerns over the safety and feasibility of hyperloop still exist. How can we predict if hyperloop is still set to achieve the aim of offering a transformative new travel mode that will redefine the boundaries of cities and regions as we know them? The answer lies in drawing lessons from the past and specifically the launch of commercial air travel, which developed enormously over the course of a series of technological leaps throughout the 20th century that nobody could have foreseen.

Ultimately, through recognising that we do not yet have all the answers and being careful to set realistic expectations in spite of the hype, we can in fact lend ourselves more easily to believing the long-term vision. The technology has been proven; it simply needs time.

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Drawing Lessons from the Past
The world’s first scheduled commercial airline flight occurred on January 1st, 1914 when a Benoist Type XIV biplane piloted by Antony H Jannus carried former St. Petersburg Mayor A. C. Phiel for a short hop across Old Tampa Bay in Florida. The flight lasted 23 minutes, with a maximum airspeed of 64 mph and flew at a height of just 50 feet. Whilst we would scoff at this in terms of today’s aviation, it was ground-breaking at the time.

35 years later, at the end of World War 2, the Jet Age was born. A British de Havilland Comet became the first commercial jet engine to fly in 1952. Boeing developed its 707 airliner and completed the first transatlantic flight in 1958 and the world’s first jumbo jet (the Boeing 747) revolutionised air travel once more in 1970. Without even considering other technological leaps such as supersonic jets regularly exceeding speeds of Mach 2 and man’s rocket-fuelled adventures into space, it is clear with hindsight that that one short flight across the Old Tampa Bay in 1914 paved the way for incredible progress.

Compare this to hyperloop successfully reaching speeds of 374 km/h (250mph) on its very first test run. Who could possibly foresee how hyperloop technologies could develop over a similar timespan of 100 years?

Whilst it is easy for technical experts to dismiss hyperloop entirely and point out its seemingly many challenges, it must be remembered that there are no greater gifts than hindsight and time. Let us not forget for example, that former President of the Royal Society and esteemed physicist Lord Kelvin himself declared in 1895 that “heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible”. At the time, such a leading expert in the field of science would scarcely have been challenged. Yet, we now know how wrong he was. The success of air travel has been phenomenal, arguably transforming the world as we know it.

Realistically Planning for the Future
The current focus on hyperloop must therefore, not be on questioning whether 1000km/h+ speeds are indeed possible or whether we will one day be able to nip to New York for a Yankees match and be back in London for breakfast. We cannot let the dream cloud the reality. It must be on developing the technology to operate safely at sub-optimal speeds and implementing hyperloops in places where real benefit can be gained by the technology as it operates in its current form. All we really need to know right now is the best base from which to make the next leap forward.

An excellent example of an answer to this conundrum comes courtesy of the Mumbai – Pune corridor in India, where Virgin Hyperloop One recently announced that is has signed a binding agreement with the State of Maharashtra to develop a hyperloop between the two cities within the next five - seven years. Not only is the route planned to operate at slower speeds but crucially, the route map contains curves! It could be said that this represents an admission on the part of Virgin Hyperloop One that its marketing maps filled with straight shiny lines between A-B are unrealistic. If this is the case, then this provides a reassuring hint of actual, tangible progress.

Hyperloop mumbai pune

Virgin Hyperloop One and other companies developing hyperloop technologies would do well to focus their efforts in countries similar to India, where saturated cities are separated by vast expanses of relatively flat terrain. This will afford the opportunity to build and refine the required infrastructure at reduced cost in comparison to heavily built-up cities (compare this to the London – Birmingham HS2 route, for example, where the infrastructure and tunnelling costs would be entirely prohibitive).

Towards the Next Giant Leap for Mankind
One of the key difficulties facing Virgin Hyperloop One and its competitors is that they must drive private investment in hyperloop by creating excitement, without risking a loss of confidence in their products by making claims that seem at best, too futuristic, or at worst, technically impossible.

For all the buzz that the shiny marketing presentations, promises of 1000+ km/h and idealistic journey time calculators based on straight lines create, we must learn to readjust our expectations and support the gradual development of hyperloop through incremental steps. Otherwise there is a real risk that hyperloop will, for a long time, exist in the realm of extreme and super-futuristic sci-fi, only to be believed by the devoted few and left to be derided by the pessimistic (and some may say realistic) many.

The certain truth is that hyperloop technologies are developing as we speak. Now that the technology has been proven, it can only get better, faster, safer and cheaper.

Posted on in News

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UK: From 20th May the current Heathrow Connect service between Heathrow Terminals 2/3, Heathrow Terminal 4 and Paddington will be transferred to Transport for London (TfL), the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced.

Special single fares will apply for journeys to and from Heathrow Airport and, for the first time, customers will be able to use pay as you go with Oyster and contactless across the route all the way from Paddington to Heathrow.

Example fares include:

  • A journey from Heathrow Airport to Ealing Broadway currently costs £8.00 using Heathrow Connect. From May, this will fall to £7.30 (peak) and £6.00 (off-peak)
  • A journey from Canary Wharf to Heathrow Airport currently costs £13.20 using the Tube and Heathrow Connect. From May, this will fall to £12.10 (peak) and £10.10 (off-peak)
  • A journey from Shepherds Bush to Heathrow Airport via Ealing Broadway currently costs £12.50 using the Central line and Heathrow Connect. From May, this will fall to £7.30 (peak) and £6.00 (off-peak)

As part of the integrated service, daily fare capping for Oyster and contactless and weekly fare capping for contactless will apply, with travelcards that cover Zone 6 able to be used on services to Heathrow.

For daily and weekly capping, Heathrow will be designated as "Zone 6", meaning that "pay as you go" customers travelling to and from the Airport from within Zones 1-6 will never pay more than the daily cap of £12.50.

All concessions which offer free or discounted travel, including the Zip Card, 60+ photocards and Veterans Concessionary Travel, will be valid on the Elizabeth line.

This will significantly reduce the cost for families travelling to Heathrow via Paddington, and mean that, from May 2018, a family of four (two adults and two children under 11) will save more than £10 travelling from Paddington to Heathrow.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: "For Londoners going to Heathrow, many of the benefits will be felt in a matter of months, with Oyster, Contactless, and cheaper fares coming in when TfL takes over the service from Heathrow Connect in May."

Mike Brown MVO, London's Transport Commissioner, said: "The railway will provide many new direct journey options between Canary Wharf, central London and Heathrow Airport, and will cut journey times dramatically and ensure London remains a world-leading city."

From May, TfL Rail services will operate two trains an hour between Paddington and Heathrow using the existing Heathrow Connect trains, an identical frequency to now.

A further two trains an hour will run between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington using the new Elizabeth line trains, replacing part of the Great Western inner suburban route. Testing is underway to allow TfL to introduce the new Elizabeth line trains to the airport.

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow's Chief Executive said: "The opening of the Elizabeth line will help make travel to the airport more accessible and sustainable for millions of passengers and colleagues. This service, along with new rail connections to the south and west and HS2 through Old Oak Common, will put Heathrow at the heart of an integrated transport network, reduce traffic around the airport, and improve local air quality."

Posted on in Members' News

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MALAYSIA – Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd (ERL), the operator of KLIA Ekspres and KLIA Transit services, unveiled its new KLIA Ekspres train with an exciting new livery based on Songket Malay textile art motifs.

At the same event, Minister of Transport, YB Dato’ Sri Liow Tiong Lai also announced an increase in frequency on KLIA Transit during peak hours, effective from 14th March 2018.

ERL bought six new trains from Changchun Railway Vehicles Co. Ltd (CRRC Changchun) of China back in 2014 to accommodate the strong demand and improve passenger comfort. All six trains have now been delivered to ERL. The commissioning and testing process has been completed for one KLIA Ekspres train and two KLIA Transit trains. The latest train livery blends traditional motifs with a vibrant colour splash, producing a unique contemporary design that represents the innovative spirit of the company.

“The additional new trains bought by ERL offers a better value proposition which is important to attract more people to use public transportation. It also complements the Government’s commitment to improving land public transport infrastructure, quality of service, and first-and-last mile connectivity,” Dato’ Sri Liow said.

Executive Chairman of ERL, Tan Sri Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh said, “The six new trains will increase ERL’s total capacity by 50% and allow ERL to offer a more efficient service to cater to our growing ridership, which has increased notably since the opening of KLIA2 in 2014. The additional new trains also mean less scheduled downtime for maintenance which translates to less interference in daily schedules and routines and provides more comfort and reliability.”

The additional services on KLIA Transit during peak hours will significantly benefit commuters and air travellers alike. Train departures will be improved to every 15 minutes during morning and evening peak hours on weekdays (from 6am to 9am, and from 4pm to 7pm) from the current 20-minute intervals, putting it on par with the KLIA Ekspres service.

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Ken OToole

UK: Over 12.5 million passengers use rail, coach or bus to access the London Stansted Airport each year, confirmed MAG at the annual Stansted Area Transport Forum.

London Stansted’s Chief Executive Officer, Ken O’Toole provided updates on the airport’s ambitious five-year investment programme to transform airport facilities, the centrepiece being a new £130 million arrivals terminal.

According to O’Toole, £100,000 was invested into the partnership with Arriva to provide the next generation of energy efficient buses on key routes to Bishop’s Stortford and Harlow, as well as £150,000 to support the Airport Commuter Centre and travel card which has helped push the number of staff using public transport to around one third of the airport population.

"Increasing the number of passengers we serve to 43 million over the next decade will require close collaboration with all transport providers, and an integral part of our transformation and growth plans is to ensure these passengers also have a first-class door-to-door experience with our partners.

We are already ahead of the curve in many areas. For example, brand new, longer Stansted Express trains with more seats will start to be introduced from next year; coach routes are growing in choice and frequency and improvements to local roads and highways are gathering pace," O'Toole said.

According to the Managing Director of Greater Anglia Jamie Burles, last year Stansted Express achieved its highest ever share of journeys to and from the airport with over 30% of travellers accessing the airport by train.

"Customer satisfaction with the Stansted Express is at 93% and during 2019/20 we will introduce brand new trains on the service, which will offer an even higher quality service with more seats and superfast wifi, to provide a further step change as the airport continues to thrive and passenger numbers increase still further," Burles said.

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HS4Air Proposed route map feature 1

UK: London based engineering consultants Expedition have developed a proposal for a new high speed railway connecting Gatwick and Heathrow Airports.

HS4Air (High Speed for Air) is a new high speed railway that connects the existing HS1 rail line to the planned HS2 railway along a route that passes via both Gatwick and Heathrow airports to the south and west of London. HS4Air also includes a connection to the Great Western Main Line railway (GWML) to the north of Heathrow airport.

Expedition director Alistair Lenczner, who has led the development of the HS4Air proposal, says: “HS4Air has been developed to allow rail and aviation infrastructure projects in south east England that are currently unconnected to become joined-up. This will offer greatly enhanced benefits for users and provide better value for the investments currently being made in the UK’s strategic infrastructure.”

“The proposed HS4Air project is an example of integrated strategic planning that spans across multiple infrastructure sectors that are too often planned within separate “silos”. Such integrated planning allows projects to achieve better results in terms of their land-use efficiency and investment value.”

According to Expedition, HS4Air would offer fast direct rail access to both Gatwick and Heathrow airports from major UK cities to the north and west of London. Rail passengers will be able to travel directly to both airports on fast regular services from cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff without any need to change trains.

It will also offer a 15-minute journey time between Gatwick and Heathrow airports using a dedicated high-speed shuttles between airport stations on the HS4Air railway.

HS4Air facts and figures:

  • 140km long route
  • 20% of HS4Air will run in tunnels
  • 40% of HS4Air’s geographic route re-uses the existing Network Rail tracks
  • HS4Air is estimated to cost approximately £10bn.

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photo ext 7

RUSSIA: During the first three months of operation, the new Aeroexpress double-decker trains carried an estimated 845,000 thousand passengers. A total of 459,000 passengers were transported between Paveletsky Rail Terminal and Domodedovo Airport, and 386,000 travellers were carried along the Kievsky Rail Terminal-Vnukovo Airport route.

"The modernisation of rolling stock is one of the measures the company is taking to prepare for the 2018 FIFA Cup. The double-decker Aeroexpress trains make it possible to handle a larger number of passengers even during rush hours. This ensures comfortable travel conditions for the company’s customers during the days that the football tournament is taking place,” said COO Valery Fyodorov.

The carrier has purchased eleven trains, seven of which serve the Domodedovo link and four operate on Vnukovo route.

New vehicles offer spacious carriages, additional space to place baggage and easily adjustable armchairs. In addition, ​each carriage is furnished with a video system, air-conditioning, sockets, and free Wi-Fi. There is also a special lift for mobility-impaired passengers to move between the train decks.

The new double-deck Aeroexpress trains, produced by Swiss Stadler, started running between Kievsky Rail Terminal and Vnukovo Airport on 27 October 2017. The first ride on the Paveletsky-Domodedovo route took place on 22 November 2017.

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FRANCE: The consortium led by VINCI Construction, together with Spie batignolles, has been awarded a major contract as part of the Grand Paris Express programme.

The RATP has selected this consortium to execute works on the future Line 14 South between Olympiades and Orly Airport.

The contract, worth almost €400 million, includes excavating a 4.6 km tunnel from Maison Blanche Paris XIII future station and a construction of the new Kremlin Bicêtre Hôpital station. The contract is scheduled to last 72 months.
A large-scale project in an urban environment

It is estimated 260,000 residents will use the Line 14 South connecting central Paris and Orly Airport. It will also provide connections with metro Line 7, Line C of the Paris RER regional express system, Line 7 of the tram system and Lines 15 South and 18 of the Grand Paris Express rapid transit system. It will create a fast link between Paris and Orly Airport, which is essential for 2024 when the city will host the Olympic Games.

VINCI Construction:

  • Dodin Campenon Bernard (consortium leader)
  • VINCI Construction Grands Projets
  • VINCI Construction France
  • Botte Fondations

Spie batignolles:

  • Spie batignolles génie civil
  • Spie batignolles fondations

VINCI Ligne14 845 en

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USA: Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) has approved LAX Integrated Express Solutions (LINX) as the recommended developer to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the automated people mover at LAX.

The $4.5 billion contract includes milestone payment sfor the design and construction phases, as well as authorizes future payments for operating and maintaining the APM for the contract period. 

Board of Airport Commissioners has approved an Early Works Agreement with LINXS, valued at up to $42M, which will allow pre-construction activities such as hiring, soil testing, engineering, and furthering design of the APM.

The design and build works will include a 2.25-mile, above ground airport transport system connecting the LAX central terminal area to the to-be-constructed consolidated rental car facility as well as six stations and a vehicle maintenance facility.

"The APM will relieve congestion and reduce emissions in and around LAX, and make traveling through our airport easier and more convenient,” said Los Angeles Councilmember Mike Bonin. “It is a critical piece of our strategy to finally connect Metro rail to LAX, and will help transform this into a world-class airport.”

The APM is the centre piece of the Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP), which also includes a Consolidated Rent-a-Car (ConRAC) facility, Intermodal Transportation Facility-West, and associated roadway improvements. The APM will reduce vehicle congestion in the terminal loop, provide a connection with L.A. Metro's regional transportation system, create new and convenient locations for passenger pick-up and drop-off outside of the terminal loop, reduce emissions, and provide reliable access to the terminals. 

The people mover project is schedule to be completed in 2023. 

As part of their proposal, LINXS committed to delivering an environmentally friendly project. Landscape will be drought tolerant using California native plants. LINXS has committed to partner with LAWA in developing opportunities for local small businesses, creation of good-paying career jobs and fostering economic growth.