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USA: TriMet, a public agency that operates mass transit in Portland, has announced plans to extend the MAX Red Line to Hillsboro, and add a second track to sections of the Red Line near Portland International Airport and Gateway Transit Center.

TriMet Board of Directors voted to adopt two resolutions on April 24 allowing for the project to move forward. One of the resolutions approved the Locally Preferred Alternative, and the second resolution authorizes TriMet to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Port of Portland. The agreement commits TriMet to continue funding further design of the project, and to work with the FTA on the total cost estimates and benefits of the project. This is the next step towards securing funding from the FTA that could pay for half of the $200 million project, with TriMet paying the other half.

TriMet’s MAX Red Line runs between Beaverton Transit Center and Portland International Airport. The plan is to extend the line ten stations to the west, to run between the Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport Station and Portland’s airport. The MAX Blue Line currently is the only light rail service west of Beaverton Transit Center and trains are often crowded during peak travel times. With continuing growth in both housing and jobs in Washington County, the request for more MAX service along the corridor between Hillsboro and Beaverton Transit Center is increasing and the extension would double service in that area most hours of the day.

The expanded service requires improving track and switches, upgrading the signal system and building an operator break facility at the Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport Station. The agency also plans to add up to eight new light rail vehicles to accommodate the extended service.

Construction is expected to begin in 2021-2022 with opening about two years later.

Red line airport platform 624x415

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UK: Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, has won five major contracts to support Heathrow Airport’s sustainable expansion programme. The contracts will see Atkins – which is part of Heathrow Airport’s Integrated Design Team – provide design and advisory services as Heathrow prepares for further public consultation in June, followed by submission of a Development Consent Order application in 2020.
 
The scope of work includes: airport connectivity, ensuring people and goods can move to, from and around the airport seamlessly; energy and utilities; water, including drainage and flood prevention; land use and development zones; and construction delivery support, which will see Atkins advise on Design for Manufacture and Assembly, modern methods of construction, and the design of temporary infrastructure.
 
Atkins is the lead consultant for all five contracts and will be supported by its integrated design partners (Arup, Grimshaw, Mott MacDonald, Jacobs, Quod and Woods Group), plus WSP and Buro Happold.
 
Atkins will draw on local expertise and its regional hubs to deliver the work, with a focus on providing career and development opportunities for graduates and apprentices.

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MALAYSIA: KLIA Ekspres tickets are now available globally through Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd (ERL)’s partnership with GlobalTix, a Singapore based e-ticketing and Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing platform.

Chief Executive Officer of ERL, Noormah Mohd Noor said, “This is our second partnership with a B2B company in just three months. It is significant for us as KLIA Ekspres tickets are now made available through GlobalTix’s network of over 4,000 partners, travel agents and distributors. This, in turn, will provide more purchase options for travellers planning their Malaysian adventure. We are definitely excited to welcome more travellers onboard the KLIA Ekspres, the fastest train in Southeast Asia.”

Launched in 2013, GlobalTix is a Singapore-based company that is run by passionate team members who believe that travelling should be as easy as possible. It is a B2B platform with a specific focus on digitalising tickets for tourist attractions.

Speaking on behalf of GlobalTix, Vice President of Global Commercial, Chanel Leong said “We are delighted to be working with KLIA Ekspres, one of the most prominent companies in Malaysia, allowing us to touch base with a company that knows and provides the best for its audience. We are excited to see where this venture will go to and we are confident this will allow both our companies to grow even further.”

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Dooh STEX web

UK: A digital Out of Home ads at London Stansted Airport are enabling commuters to make quick-fire judgements on the quickest route into Central London.

Digital Out of Home production agency DOOH.com in partnership with LIDA, who are part of the M&C Saatchi Group, have designed the logic behind the system, ensuring travellers are provided with live travel comparison information demonstrating the speed and efficiency of the Stansted Express rail service versus alternative routes in and out of London.

Neil McKenney, Managing Partner, DOOH.com on the campaign, “Applying live data is a fantastic way of turning an otherwise general advert into a functional utility that saves passengers time and effort during what is often a stressful part of their journey. Using our platform, it becomes easy to infuse digital OOH ads with the ability to function in the same way as a web-page. ”

The digital screens are positioned at the baggage reclaim area of Stansted Airport, providing passengers with live journey time comparisons between car, coach and the Stansted Express train service to London Liverpool Street station; all powered by real-time data via multiple API’s.

Stansted Express delivers an average journey time to Liverpool Street of 47 minutes with departures every 15 minutes during the day, and 30 minutes in the early morning and late evening.

Chris Ford, Marketing & Digital Manager at Stansted Express, commented, “We appreciate this part of the journey is a fine balance of excitement and frustration for passengers, particularly as navigating transfer options can be tricky.

“By harnessing different sources of real-time data into one we can provide reliable and digestible information to help customers make informed decisions on how to get to and from central London.”

Victoria Nikishina, client services director at Primesight celebrated the campaign saying “It’s fantastic to see Stansted Express use the full dynamic capabilities of digital out-of-home to enhance their already established long-term holding at London Stansted, reaching 27 million passengers a year.

“Stansted Express’ use of real time traffic data across our digital arrivals gallery and D6 networks enhances the consumer journey and helps the arriving audience make informed choices on the best, most available mode of onward travel.

“This is a best-in-class example of how digital OOH is being used in a data-rich airport environment in real time, to enhance Stansted Express’ significant long-term branding.”

The project was jointly devised and created by Stansted Express, creative agency LIDA and digital production agency DOOH.com, with ads appearing on media owner Primesight’s Digital Arrivals Network and Digital 6-sheets.

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MALAYSIA: Malindo Air guests are now able to buy KLIA Ekspres tickets together with their flight tickets on Malindo Air’s website. This e-ticketing facility further strengthens the partnership between Malindo Air and Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd (ERL) following the launch of the airline’s check-in service at KL Sentral in December 2016.

Noormah Mohd Noor, Chief Executive Officer of ERL said, “We are excited about this latest collaboration with Malindo Air. It is in line with our digital partnership drive with partners who share a common goal in providing convenient and seamless service to our mutual customers. For passengers who fly with Malindo Air, they can rest assured that their luggage will arrive safely at their final destination as each piece of luggage is barcoded and tracked.”

Malindo Air commenced operations in March 2013 and has a network of flights throughout Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, China, Singapore, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Australia, Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Taiwan, Pakistan and Hong Kong. With an extensive network of 55 routes in the region, Malindo Air has over 800 flights travelling weekly.

Chandran Rama Muthy, Chief Executive Officer of Malindo Air said. "We are pleased to bring our collaboration with ERL to another level with this initiative. Moreover, our passengers get to enjoy exclusive fares and seamless connection to and from KLIA, which we believe will enhance their travel experience by flying with Malindo Air.”

To purchase KLIA Ekspres tickets, simply log on to www.malindoair.com. Once your Malindo Air flight tickets are confirmed, click on the KLIA Ekspres banner in the Booking Confirmation page to purchase KLIA Ekspres tickets at exclusive fares.

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AUSTRALIA: Victorian and Commonwealth Governments have formally signed off on the Melbourne Airport Rail Link (MARL) project.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the signing of the Heads of Agreement on 13 March 2019, which sets out the strategic objectives, governance arrangements and information sharing processes for the $10 billion joint commitment.

Mr Morrison said the people of Melbourne and Victoria had been waiting far too long for the rail link to become a reality.

“For decades Victorians have talked about a train line to the airport. We are delivering it. In last year’s Budget we made a $5 billion investment in the Melbourne Airport Rail Link, it was the biggest infrastructure commitment in the Budget.

“Melbourne is truly a global city that deserves world class infrastructure. The Rail Link is part of our plan to bust congestion across the city and get people home faster and safer.

“I’d like to thank the Premier and Minister Tudge who have worked constructively with me to land this agreement and bring the project closer to fruition.”

A project team will be established to drive the development of a full Business Case for the project, which will not only connect Melbourne Airport to the rail network for the first time – but also integrate it with the Metro Tunnel and the future Suburban Rail Loop, and pave the way for fast-rail to the regions.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the Victorian Government is not wasting a minute leading the planning work for an Airport Rail Link that delivers for all Victorians.

“The Melbourne Airport Rail Link has been talked about for far too long – we’re doing the detailed planning and development work to make it a reality,” Mr Andrews said.

“By choosing the Sunshine route, we are ensuring all Victorians can benefit from the rail link, including people living in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo. As we complete the business case, we’re also doing the work needed to deliver fast rail to the regions.”

Melbourne Airport is a key part of Victoria and Australia’s economic growth. In 2016-17, it handled more than 35 million passenger movements and by 2038, it is expected to almost double to more than 67 million, as Victoria’s population continues to grow and demand increases.

Melbourne Airport Rail Link will alleviate congestion on the main road connection to the airport, the Tullamarine Freeway, and unlock capacity for the growing population in Melbourne’s north-west.

Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge said following the successful widening of the Tullamarine Freeway, the airport link would bust congestion for generations to come.

“This is a critical project for Melbourne. It will make it easier for residents and make our city more attractive to visitors,” Mr Tudge said.

“When complete, someone in Pakenham, Frankston or Ringwood will be able to get onto the train, and be at the airport in the time it would have taken to drive, but without having to worry about parking.”

Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said this is part of the Victorian Government’s unprecedented pipeline of major transport projects.

“We’re building the Metro Tunnel, removing dangerous level crossings and getting on with the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.”
“This is not just about getting from the airport to the city – it’s about better connecting our suburbs and regions, so people have better services wherever they live.”

Planning and development of the MARL Business Case is already well underway. Rail Projects Victoria has engaged expert technical and commercial advisers for the project, and ecological, traffic and geotechnical investigations have begun.

Early market engagement on the MARL attracted submissions from more than 100 local and global organisations. Further market sounding will be undertaken to assess equity partners, private sector involvement, financing arrangements and other matters.

A reference group including community, industry and local government representatives will be established to provide guidance and feedback to the project team as the Business Case is developed.

The State and Federal Governments have committed up to $5 billion each to deliver MARL. The total cost of the project is estimated to be in the range of $8-13 billion, with construction to take up to nine years and due to commence in 2022.

The Business Case will be delivered by 2020 and will assess station and procurement options, value capture and creation opportunities, and economic analysis of the recommended solution.

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NORWAY: Flytoget is set to increase its capacity by 50% and this week the company has showed off its brand-new trains for the very first time. Wider seats, less noise and larger windows will ensure that passengers have an even more comfortable and efficient journey.

In 2015 Flytoget contracted Spanish train producer CAF to deliver eight new trains. The new units will be adding to Flytoget’s existing fleet of sixteen trains – and will therefore be increasing the company’s capacity by 50%. This will enable them to carry even more passengers to and from Oslo Airport.

"Last year Flytoget carried a record number of passengers, close to seven million, so it is essential for us to be bringing in these new units this year. The new trains have been built to the same exacting standards as our existing fleet, but have been fitted with features that we know our passengers have been wanting for a long time; less noise, wider seats, power sockets, USB access and cup holders at every seat, as well as more space for luggage. The trains will also be the first in Norway to display carriage loadings to passengers, so that they can see where there are free seats before boarding," says Philipp Engedal, Flytoget’s CEO.

Flytoget new train web

The new airport express trains have undergone comprehensive testing before arriving in Norway and have spent time in Spain, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic on the way, to allow for cold chamber tests and other trials. The new trains will be approved for a maximum speed of 245 km/h, but in order to achieve this approval they will be tested at speeds as high as 270 km/h.

"For the time being, we can only run at 210 km/h to and from Oslo Airport, but of course we think it’s cool that the new trains have the capacity to run at such high speeds. Flytoget’s airport express is the fastest train in Norway, and this gives exciting opportunities for the future," says Engedal.

Spanish CAF will also be delivering new trams to Oslo. Félix Fernández, the Project Director, is very happy with the company’s collaboration with Norwegian Flytoget – and not least the outcome of their joint efforts :

"I can honestly say that this is one of the most amazing trains we have ever built. Flytoget’s project team is a group of perfectionists who never rest until the minutest detail is in place. The result is a fantastic train, and I am positive that customers will love it." 

The new train has generally been designed to enable further development of the qualities that are important to Flytoget. Working with in-house staff and prominent designers the manufacturers have produced a train that reflects a modern Norwegian building style and Flytoget’s values. Another important aim has been to ensure that the new trains are as energy efficient as possible, and to incorporate good universal design solutions throughout.

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RUSSIA: Aeroexpress has summarised the results of train services on-time performance on all Aeroexpress routes in 2018 and reported 99.8% schedule compliance.

The total of 72,243 train services was provided by the company last year, and 72,079 of them fully complied with the timetable. Some minor delays occurred due to reasons beyond the company’s control.

“Predictable travel times, along with ensured safety and comfort, are some of the main advantages of travelling by Aeroexpress,” said Alina Bisembaeva, CEO of Aeroexpress. “To achieve high accuracy for train services, our company has been continuously implementing a series of technical and organizational measures, including training our staff, maintaining equipment, updating technical regulations, etc.”

Aeroexpress trains run 200 times a day, transporting passengers between airports of the Moscow Air Cluster and Central Moscow. Travel time for a full run amounts to 35 minutes on Vnukovo and Sheremetyevo routes and 45 minutes on Domodedovo route. The journey time remained the same, even after the interim stops at Okruzhnaya and Verhniye Kotly were introduced along Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo routes in 2018.

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UK: The first of ten new Stansted Express trains has arrived to Norwich from Switzerland on Thursday 28 February, where it will undergo a series of safety and performance tests before it is passed as fit to go into passenger service.

The new Stansted Express electric trains will be longer, with more seats, plug and USB sockets, as well as air conditioning. They will have fast free wifi and improved passenger information screens.

Ian McConnell, Greater Anglia Franchising and Programmes Director, said: “It was an incredible sight to see this long modern-looking train travelling along our line. It’s a glimpse of the near future, when they will be carrying more passengers in comfort and style between Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and London.”

Testing is due to start on the new Stansted Express train later in March.

Martino Celeghini, Stadler technical project manager, said: “This order was a highly significant one for us, and we are delighted that within three years of contract-signing, trains were arriving on British soil.

“Following the start of testing on the bi-modes at the end of last year, we are pleased to begin working on testing and commissioning these electric trains with our UK partners.”

Greater Anglia is replacing every single existing train with brand new trains, including 58 made by Stadler and 111 made by Bombardier in Derby.

New trains will start to come into service from the middle of this year as part of a two-year roll out.

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Stansted CEO

UK: The Chief Executive Officer of London Stansted, Ken O’Toole, has called on local businesses, community leaders and regional organisations to make their voices heard and press Government for upgrades to the rail links to the airport.

Addressing over 150 delegates at the annual Stansted Area Transport Forum, O’Toole said better connectivity in and out of the airport will further boost the local economy, make new journeys viable for local residents, ease access for the 12,000 on-site workforce and help attract a greater number of airlines and new destinations.

O’Toole asked attendees to use the on-going Aviation Strategy consultation process as an opportunity to communicate direct to Government the need for better rail connections into Stansted.

"How easy it is for people to access Stansted, be they passengers, our workforce or business partners, will be one of the primary drivers behind our future growth – growth that will in turn ensure that the UK, and particularly the East of England, remains connected to international economies and all the opportunities they have to offer.

Airport development and surface access into airports should not be considered independently from each other; they should be considered together as part of an integrated transport strategy. Where surface access to airports is suitably well developed, economic activity that would otherwise not occur is generated; through tourism, international trade, productivity improvements and attracting of foreign investment," O'Toole said.

The Airport Operators Association estimates that a 5% improvement in average journey times to and from UK airports could deliver a 2.7% increase in passenger numbers, generating an additional £1.9 billion for the UK economy and supporting an additional 32,000 jobs.

"Our view that journey times need to come down has been endorsed by both the Airports Commission and West Anglia Task Force but unfortunately these requests have fallen on deaf ears within central Government and Network Rail, despite the number of passengers and commuters using the Stansted Express growing by 143% since 2013.

Of course, journey time improvements require infrastructure investment. Whilst we are prepared to proportionately contribute to the costs involved in seeing journey times lowered, any significant improvement will require considerable investment.

Therefore, my ask to everyone here today is clear. Please take it upon yourselves to communicate directly to government, through its current Aviation Strategy consultation process, about the need for better rail connections into Stansted Airport and how these will benefit you, your family, your business or organisation and the wider region. Hopefully, together we can collectively deliver the transport improvements that this region, and the country, deserves," Ken O’ Toole concluded.

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The Ministry of Transport and the infrastructure manager CDG Express ("GI CDG Express"), equally owned by Groupe ADP, SNCF Réseau and Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, has signed the concession contract for works relating to the CDG Express link project on 11 February 2019.

Under this contract, GI CDG Express is responsible for financing, designing, building and maintaining the CDG Express link for 50 years. It will connect the Gare de l'Est (Paris-East station) to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport in 20 minutes. Groupe ADP will be committed to finance the project through equity contribution of €134 million and a non-renewable repayable advance of up to €150 million.

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Manila Rail

PHILIPPINES: Philippines’ Department of Transport has launched invitation for bids for three civil works packages on Malolos-Clark railway project, linking Metro Manila and Clark International Airport.

The 53km line will have 7 elevated stations and the total value of the project is USD 3.2 billion.

The bid submission deadline is 10 May 2019.

The first package includes a 17-km railway viaduct and two stations, the second one - a viaduct with a length of 16 km, including one station, and the third one, includes a 12-km railway viaduct and two stations.

The bidding documents have been prepared separately for each package and shall be bid as separate contracts.

The project is estimated to be completed at the end of 2023.

The bid documents can be accessed here >>>

The Department for Transport has also broke ground of the Phase 1 of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) Project on 15 February 2019.

NR Clark Phase 1, a 37.6-kilometer mass railway transportation project ,will have a total of ten stations, namely, Tutuban, Solis, Caloocan, Valenzuela, Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto, and Malolos station; and will house a depot at a 14-hectare lot in Valenzuela City.

Once completed, this project will reduce travel time between Manila and Bulacan from 1hr45min to just 35 minutes, serving approximately over 300,000 passengers daily.

The 147-kilometer NSCR Project estimated to cost around PHP777.55 billion will have 36 stations from Clark International Airport to Calamba, Laguna.

The railway project will connect PNR Clark Phase 1 (Tutuban-Malolos) PNR Clark Phase 2 (Malolos-Clark) and the PNR Calamba Project which will run from Manila to Calamba.

The NSCR System will also link with existing railway lines LRT-1, LRT-2, MRT-3 and the Metro Manila Subway.

After signing the contract with Sumitomo Mitsui Construction on 23 January 2019, advance works already began to make way for full construction.

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ROMANIA: Romania’s railway infrastructure company CFR has published design and execution work tender to deliver the phase one of the modernization of the North Bucharest railway line to Henri Coanda International Airport.

The total estimated value of the project is RON 420 mln (EUR 88.6 mln), and includes construction of a 2.95km double track, 1.52 km viaduct, three bridges and a passenger station at Terminal 1.

The duration of the contract is 14 months, of which 2 months are estimated for design and 12 months for execution, plus 60 months warranty period. The deadline to submit the tenders is 25 March 2019.

The project "Modernization of the Bucharest North Railway - Henri Coanda Airport" is part of the Master Plan of Transport of Romania.

The tender documents are available here: http://sicap-prod.e-licitatie.ro/pub/notices/c-notice/v2/view/100047961

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HEX Oyster

UK: Contactless bank cards, mobile devices and Oyster cards will all be accepted on the fastest route between London Paddington and Heathrow Central from Tuesday 19 February. The quick and easy ways to pay follow the introduction of ticket barriers at Heathrow and on Platforms 6&7 at London Paddington.

With half of all pay as you go journeys in London now regularly made using a contactless card or mobile device, these payment options offer a quick and easy way to travel for the 17,000 passengers that use Heathrow Express each day, integrating it with paying for travel across all of the capital’s Tube, rail and bus network.

Children aged 15 and under travel free on Heathrow Express using their Zip Oyster card.

Using Contactless payment or Oyster costs the same as a Peak or Off-Peak Express Single, depending on the time of travel and is not included in daily or weekly fare capping. The best value Heathrow Express fares including return tickets and advance fares from £5.50 each way at weekends remain available online or via the Heathrow Express app. With barcode scanners on every ticket barrier, customers purchasing tickets online or via the app can also get on board quickly and easily.

Customers travelling in Business First class can also use Contactless or Oyster by touching in and purchasing an upgrade from the on-board team. Business First offers a more private, spacious environment with wider seating, tables you can work from and a selection of complimentary magazines and newspapers.

Working in partnership, Heathrow Express and Transport for London (TfL) have installed new multilingual ticket machines at Heathrow, which allow customers to easily purchase, top up or refund an Oyster card (up to £10) and makes paying for travel with Oyster simple and convenient.

Les Freer, Director of Heathrow Express said: “Speed is everything to Heathrow Express customers so the introduction of Contactless and Oyster offers quick and easy ways to pay for your journey. This also adds to our already wide range of ticketing options offering customers choice on how they make the most of our service on top of our advance tickets from £5.50 each way at weekends.”

Shashi Verma, Director of Strategy and Chief Technology Officer at TfL, said: “The extension of Oyster and the Contactless system to include Heathrow Express offers customers the opportunity to make their journeys more smooth and efficient – both are easier and quicker to use than paper tickets. We have also worked with Heathrow Express to provide new ticket machines at Heathrow, where customers can purchase an Oyster card to cover all their travel during their stay, making their visit much easier.
“Half of all Tube and rail pay as you go journeys are now regularly made using contactless payment because it is so quick and easy. We are committed to making paying for transport easier for everyone and this extension means that all rail services within Greater London now accept payment via Oyster and Contactless. We continue to work with the Department for Transport to support their aspirations to further expand the benefits of this world-renowned ticketing system to other key locations outside of London.”

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RUSSIA: 100,000 passengers paid for their Aeroexpress trips at the company’s turnstiles, using contactless payment options in 2018.

Contactless payments can be made at the Aeroexpress turnstiles with Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, and Union Pay contactless cards, Troika transport card, and mobile devices that support the functionality of payment options with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay.

MasterCard turned out to be the most popular contactless payment option in 2018, with 45% of all transactions made with it.

“We have been constantly developing our sales channels and expanding the number of payment options so that our passengers could pay for their Aeroexpress journeys using any way that is the most convenient for them. As of today, our company offers cutting-edge payment options. An opportunity to purchase a ticket by simply touching a bank card or a mobile device onto a turnstile reader at the Aeroexpress terminal is one of them,” said Alina Bisembaeva, CEO of Aeroexpress.

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Oyster1

UK: The Department for Transport has announced a public consultation to deliver smart ticketing and pay-as-you-go (PAYG) travel to an expanded area across the south-east of England.

In the north of England, the government has allocated £150 million to the PAYG programme already being progressed by Transport for the North and, in London, Oyster ticketing already offers seamless PAYG travel.

"PAYG systems automatically charge the fare for the journey without needing the customer to buy a ticket. This could be more convenient for many passengers since it avoids the need to work out your daily or weekly travel in advance or queue up to buy tickets," states the consultation document.

The consultation offers the travelling public, business, local authorities and others the opportunity to have their say on how the system could operate and where it could extend to.

The consultation will look at the following areas:

What a PAYG travel area is and how it would work in general

Where a PAYG travel area in the South-East could cover, as the next step towards out wider ambition to roll out PAYG in commuter areas

The changes to fares that could be made within the area

The proposed PAYG travel area in London will include Luton Airport and should be delivered by the end of this year.

More information about the consultation can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/pay-as-you-go-on-rail

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FINLAND: The Ministry of Transport and Communications is planning to establish a limited liability company Oy Suomen Rata Ab, wholly owned by the state, with a goal to comprehensively develop the railway sector and promote large-scale rail transport investments in Finland.

The Government's Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy has discussed the Ministry's proposal on 1 February 2019 and expressed its support.

Oy Suomen Rata Ab would be established with an initial capital injection of EUR 100 million working capital and will consist of five subsidiaries:

  • Project company Suomi-rata, or "Finland line", responsible for the development of the Airport line and Airport-Tampere rail corridor, with estimated total cost of around EUR 5.5 billion.
  • Project company Turun tunnin juna ("Fast Helsinki-Turku Line"), responsible for the development of the Helsinki-Turku connection, with estimated total cost of around EUR 2 billion.
  • Rolling stock company, which will oversee the partial demerger of VR Group Ltd, including the transfer of all Sm2 and Sm4 commuter trains to the new rolling stock company.
  • Real estate company will ensure competition-neutral conditions in the railway market by providing all railway operators with equal access to stations, terminals, depots and maintenance facilities as well as to services offered by these real estates. 
  • Rail Baltica company will manage Finland’s involvement in the Rail Baltica corridor linking Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

"It is clear that large-scale, necessary rail investments cannot be carried out from budgetary funds and that is why we need new finance methods. A solution has been sought throughout the government term. I am glad that it has now been reached in cooperation with the cities. Efficient rail transport services are essential for facilitating everyday mobility and extending the commuter areas. They are also a significant contributing factor for Finland's competitiveness," says Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner.

 

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UK: Porterbrook has signed a contract with Bombardier Transportation to fit digital signalling equipment and complete specialist on-board conversions to Class 387 trains set to serve the Heathrow Express rail link.

The 12 specially converted trains will form a dedicated Heathrow Express fleet as part of a management contract announced in March 2018 which sees Great Western Railway deliver some of the operational aspects of the airport service.

Porterbrook’s £11m investment in the class 387 Electrostar trains sees proven Digital Railway in-cab ETCS signalling installed as well as on-board conversions including improved seating, additional luggage space, at seat power, on-board TV and fast WiFi.

Engineering and design work will take place at Bombardier’s Derby Litchurch Lane works, with fitment taking place at the company’s Ilford depot. The work will be completed by December 2019, meeting the Secretary of State’s commitment to replace existing rolling stock on the route with highly reliable, digitally enabled, Electrostar trains as well as extend the track access agreement to confirm the Heathrow Express service running until at least 2028.

Fitment of ETCS to the Class 387 trains will be the first time that digital signalling has been installed on an existing fleet of electric passenger trains. Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook said: "I am delighted that Porterbrook and Bombardier can lead the way in the fitment of digital signalling to Heathrow Express Electrostar trains that connect London to the UK’s gateway to the world.”

"This first-in-fleet fitment will enable us to accelerate ETCS fitment on other Electrostar fleets, as and when our customers require it." Richard Hunter, President Rail Control Solutions at Bombardier Transportation, said: "As a global signalling solutions provider, we are delighted to be working with Porterbrook, Heathrow Express and Great Western Railway on this project, an exciting next step in the delivery of the Digital Railway."

Les Freer, Director of Heathrow Express said: “The introduction of a fleet of Class 387 trains specially converted for airport passengers is one of the main benefits of our new partnership with Great Western Railway. This helps us build on our 20 year history of excellent customer service as we continue to offer the same fast and frequent non-stop service between Heathrow Airport and London Paddington for years to come.”

Fitment of digital signalling to the Class 387 trains for use on the Heathrow Express route will result in ‘type approval’ from the Office of Rail and Road, enabling ETCS to be fitted to all Electrostar fleets.

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MALAYSIA: Sri Sutra Travel, a local travel agency in business and leisure travel, is partnering with Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd (ERL), the operator of KLIA Ekspres, the premium non-stop high-speed train service that connects the city centre to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA & KLIA2). Aside from purchasing KLIA Ekspres tickets at KLIA Ekspres ticket counters, website and app, travellers can now purchase tickets on Sutra.my and TravelCompute One-Stop Travel Technology platform.

Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Sri Sutra Travel is an online platform that provides airport transfers, accommodation, car hire, tailored tours, bus and rail ticket reservations, concert and sporting tickets and other related services to travellers. “We are definitely proud and excited to be partnering with one of Malaysia’s leading travel consultancies. Having been in the tourism industry for decades, Sri Sutra Travel has an extensive market both locally and internationally. “This partnership is important to ERL as it will expand KLIA Ekspres’ reach further within the Malaysian travel industry, and it makes it simple for travel agents to package the KLIA Ekspres with other local attractions and services,” said Noormah Mohd Noor, Chief Executive Officer of ERL.

Sri Sutra Travel CEO, Dato’ Syed Razif Al-Yahya also expressed his delight in the partnership. He said: “Sri Sutra Travel is committed to provide our customers with the best service for their convenience. Now, they can purchase KLIA Ekspres tickets after booking their flights so they can travel to and from the airport seamlessly and comfortably.”

To purchase the KLIA Ekspres tickets, simply log on to Sutra.my and click on “KLIA Ekspres”. You can select your starting location and destination (KLIA/KLIA2 to KL Sentral or vice versa), as well as the date. After selecting the number of Adult or Child (2-12 years old) tickets, fill in the contact details. Lastly, review your booking before you make the payment.

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BELGIUM: International mobility experts and partners of the LAirA (Landside Airport Accessibility) project, funded by Interreg Central Europe met in Brussels on 23 January 2019 to discuss the merits of different solutions for low carbon mobility at airports. These solutions are meant to support local and regional authorities, infrastructure providers and airports in achieving their goals for green airport access.

The conference "Towards smart and low carbon mobility", organised by the Airport Regions Conference, brought together European institutions, international transport associations, public authorities, airports, and advocacy groups.

LAirA project partners represent seven Central Europe's Functional Urban Areas of Vienna, Budapest, Warsaw, Milan, Stuttgart, Dubrovnik and Poznan. The conference mirrored one of the main objectives of LAirA project: to encourage airport passengers and employees to use sustainable transport modes when travelling to and from the airport. LAirA partners analysed seven action plans to implement low carbon mobility - electric mobility, air-rail links, walking and cycling, shared mobility, intelligent transport systems, wayfinding and road based public transport.

"The recommendations of these analyses could be a valuable input for the European strategy," Isabelle Vandoorne, Deputy Head of the Sustainable and Intelligent Transport Unit at the European Commission said.

One of the key recommendations that was applicable to all action plans was a closer cooperation with the key stakeholders.

"All project partners have emphasized that building strong and sustainable relations with the many stakeholders is key in ensuring the success of the project," Milda Manomaityte, Founding Director of the Global AirRail Alliance said. "LAirA project partners highlighted the political and local support as one of the main challenges in delivering airport rail link projects. The political support can be strengthened if the local community is behind the project and is actively advocating for it."

A surprising hot topic of the event was the walking and cycling, or "Active Travel" action plan, looking at ways to encourage airport staff and passengers to forgo motorised transport and get active. Some airports are already offering cycling schemes to their employees with bicycle maintenance shops and cloakroom facilities. With car parking real-estate becoming a scarce resource, airports agree that it is good idea to convince their workers not to drive and park at the airport, but instead to use public transport or active travel. The discussions, however, kicked off when conference participants started considering the active travel for passengers and if such option is realistic at all. An agreement was reached that walking and cycling would work best within the airport campus, for example, for passengers accessing nearby hotels and conference centres. Currently many airports do not offer safe and enjoyable pedestrian routes, so passengers rely on private hotel shuttles to move around the immediate airport environment.

LAirA project partners have also considered the opportunity to work together and establish a standard wayfinding signs for these new mobility services.

"A passenger that is arriving at the airport for the first time will not be familiar with local public transport system and terminology. For example, public transport can mean different things in different countries, and rail services have different names around the world, such as metro, u-bahn, s-bahn, subway, overground, underground, intercity and many more. Another good example is the app based transportation services, such as Uber and Lyft - each airport started to introduce their own wayfinding signs to represent them," Liam Henderson, Founding Director or Transporting Cities said.

According to Liam, LAirA project partners should lead the way in developing standard wayfinding signs and definitions for different airport land access services.

Andrew Murphy, Manager-Aviation at Transport & Environment, highlighted that airports have a big role to play to change the access to the airport, but also that greater investment and regulation is needed to achieve low carbon mobility.

On behalf of LAirA’s lead partner, Budapest 18th District, Gabor Csaba Sooki-Toth noted that "sustainable airport access has an important role in the development of the region and LAirA project aims to support the European vision of sustainable transportation through better urban planning and by providing mobility solutions accessible for regions, airports and users."

The solutions and actions presented at this event will help further future activities that will improve and decarbonize access to airports, supporting cleaner airport areas as well as the goals of the Paris Agreement.

"Public transport is undergoing major changes and challenges with e-mobility, car-hailing and other emerging mobility services, and it sometimes feels that infrastructures or administrations are not able to cope with these changes, but today we saw so many progresses that I am confident for the readiness of our public transport providers,” Léa Bodossian, Director of Aspire and the moderator of the conference, summarised the event.

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