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EU launches Connecting Europe Facility call worth €1.4bn

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The European Commission launched a call worth €1.4bn on October 16 to support key transport projects implemented in 2021-2027 through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

The investment will help build missing connections across the continent, while focusing on sustainable transport modes. The call is split into two, with the cohesion envelope, which is worth €650m, reserved for the 15 EU Member States that are eligible for Cohesion Fund support: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

This funding is split between:

– Pre-identified projects on the corridors of the core network (railways, inland waterways, roads, maritime and inland ports) – €610m

– Safe and secure infrastructure, including safe and secure parking on the road core network – €40m

The general envelope, which to applications from all EU member states, has a budget of €750m across the following areas:

– Pre-identified projects on the corridors of the core network (railways, inland waterways, roads, maritime and inland ports) – €500m

– Deployment of European rail traffic management system (ERTMS) – €50m

– Safe and secure infrastructure, including safe and secure parking on the road core network – €20m

– Intelligent Transport Services For Road (ITS) – €20m

– Single European sky (Sesar) – €20m

– Actions implementing transport infrastructure in core network nodes, including urban nodes and passengers multimodality – €110m

– Motorways of the sea – €30m

“To accelerate decarbonisation and contribute to the completion of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), we are making full use of the resources available through the CEF,” says transport commissioner, Ms Violeta Bulc.

“These investments will support smart and sustainable mobility and better connect our citizens across Europe.” A virtual information day will take place on November 7, with the deadline for applications on February 26 2020. CEF is the European Union’s funding instrument for strategic investment in transport, energy and digital infrastructure.

 

Source: railjournal.com

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US hydrogen train contract awarded

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Τραίνο υδρογόνου Stadler

Southern California’s San Bernardino County Transportation Authority has awarded Stadler a contract to supply a Flirt H2 hydrogen fuel cell powered multiple-unit to enter passenger service in 2024, with an option for a further four units.

Stadler said the contract announced on November 14 was ‘a major milestone in bringing zero-emission passenger rail technology to the USA’.

The Flirt H2 unit will have two cars with a total of 108 seats and ‘generous’ standing room, plus a central power module holding the fuel cells and the hydrogen tanks. It will have a maximum speed of 79 mile/h (127 km/h), the federal limit above which additional signalling systems are required.

It is to be deployed on the Redlands Passenger Rail Project, a 14·5 km passenger service which is being developed on a former Santa Fe freight railway alignment between the University of Redlands and the Metrolink commuter rail station in San Bernardino.

In 2017 SBCTA ordered three diesel-electric Flirt units for the line, which is currently being built by Flatiron Construction Corp. The ‘Arrow’ branded service is expected to launch in late 2021.

The order for a hydrogen unit ‘is an excellent example of how we are demonstrating our commitment to the next generation’, said SBCTA President Darcy McNaboe. ‘The hydrogen Flirt will help us address the commuting needs of today while preserving our environment for a better tomorrow.’

‘Stadler is committed to designing and building green technology for the transportation industry’, added Martin Ritter, CEO of Stadler US Inc. ‘We have an excellent relationship with SBCTA, and it is a great honour to partner with them to bring the first hydrogen-powered train to the USA.’

Source: railwaygazette.com

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German parliament approves €86bn investment plan

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German Railway DB train

The German parliament approved a €86bn budget for investment in the country’s rail infrastructure under the LuFV III performance and financing agreement for 2020-2029 on November 15.

This follows an agreement reached on the budget between German Rail (DB) and the Federal Ministry of Transport (BMVI) in July. However, the federal government contribution’s to LuFV III has been reduced from €62bn to €51.4bn with national rail infrastructure manager DB Network responsible for most of the remaining investment.

The new LuFV III represents a 41% increase in spending over the previous LuFV II which ends this year. Under the new arrangements government funding for infrastructure will be around €5.6bn in 2025-2029 compared with around €3.5bn for the last five years.

Following recent criticism from the Federal Court of Auditors, DB’s access to the funds will be in tranches and funds from 2025 may be withheld if agreed objectives and controls are not met, although political agreement on how this will be achieved has yet to be reached. BMVI will be required to report every two years on progress versus targets for the rail investment programme and the Federal Court of Auditors is expected to play a greater role in ensuring DB budget control and project delivery targets are met.

Much of the funds will be spent on improving the overall state of repair of the rail network, which the German parliament said earlier this month totalled €49bn. The money will also be used to increase capacity at congested pinch points on the network to enable the introduction of the planned regular interval timetable from 2030.

Under scrutiny

DB is a key beneficiary of the federal government’s climate protection package, announced in late September. This will add another €20bn in rail investment up to 2030 with a capital injection into DB of €11bn planned in stages over the next decade. This will provide DB with significant additional capital, reducing the short term need to raise finance through borrowing or the sale of subsidiaries such as Arriva, which has been put on ice as all the offers received were below the book value of the company.

However, lobbyists representing DB’s passenger and freight competitors have raised significant concerns over the government’s decision to channel climate-protection spending solely into DB, as they fear unfair cross subsidy to DB’s freight and other services plus non-transparent prioritisation of investment to suit DB rather than the overall market. Legal advice obtained by opponents of the proposed capital increase for DB suggests it could be illegal under European law as it constitutes state aid to a state-owned company.

Source: railjournal.com

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China poised to open 350 km/h automated railway

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Bullet train China

Automated operations are due to start before the end of this year on the 174 km high speed line linking Beijing with Zhangjiakou in Hebei province, one of the host cities for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Journey times will be cut to around 50 min compared with about 3 h by trains using the 190 km conventional line.

Designed to carry visitors to the Olympic venue at up to 350 km/h, the line will be ‘the smartest in the country’, according to Mo Zhisong, Chief Engineer responsible for train control systems at China State Railway Group, which until June this year was known as China Railway Corp.

Speaking at a press event last month, Mo said tests had shown that the smart railway improved operational safety and comfort, enhanced on-time performance and cut energy costs. Automatic driving and dispatching systems and intelligent substations are among 67 ‘smart technology projects’ deployed on the line. Different types of intelligent robot will be available at stations to assist passengers and handle luggage. During the trials, a test train reached a maximum speed of 385 km/h.

Design of the 53·5bn yuan railway was carried out by China Railway Engineering Consulting Group with the help of a suite of software from Bentley Systems. The line includes 10 tunnels, one of which is 1·2 km long, and 64 bridges. One of the 10 stations will serve the Great Wall visitor site at Badaling and is located up to 102 m below the surface.

Source: railwaygazette.com

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