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More Frecciarossa trains to come as FS unveils €58bn investment plan

Νίκος Καραγιάννης

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State railway holding FS Group’s 2019-23 business plan envisages total investment worth €58bn across modes, with a core focus on enhancing the conventional rail network and improving suburban passenger services.

According to FS, the ‘unprecedented’ spending programme, unveiled in Roma on May 10 by Chief Executive Gianfranco Battisti, reflects its intention to become the largest single investor in Italian infrastructure, contributing to an annual increase in national GDP of between 0·7% and 0·9% by the end of the five-year period. The group is anticipating revenue of €16·9bn and EBITDA of €3·3bn by 2023.

Under the plan, no less than €42bn is to be spent on transport infrastructure, of which €28bn is dedicated to main line railways and the remainder to other modes, including €2bn to develop metro networks and €14bn for the strategic road network through its ANAS subsidiary.

Rail spending will be focused on ensuring the benefits of major projects can be realised; these include the Brenner Base Tunnel, the Terzo Valico fast line between Milano and Genova, the Brescia – Verona – Padova high speed line and the Napoli – Bari route modernisation.

The plan commits to roll out ERTMS across the conventional network, having already introduced it on the Alta Velocità-Alta Capacità network. Investment to enhance capacity for rail freight will be supported by funds generated from the issuance of green bonds.

Overall, FS says that it is dedicating €5·5bn to punctuality improvement measures.

Rolling stock spend

More than 2 000 vehicles are to be ordered by FS Group in 2019-23, ranging from low-emission city buses to freight wagons. Investment in suburban and regional trains is a priority, with 600 trains to be ordered and delivery of 239 to be ‘frontloaded’ to arrive before 2023.

While the group insists that commuter trains will be its core focus, the business plan also commits it to ordering a further 14 Frecciarossa 1000 high speed trainsets to complement the 50 already supplied by Bombardier and Hitachi as the AV-AC network continues to expand. Some of these are likely to be used to support enhanced inter-city links to principal airports including Roma Fiumicino and Milano Malpensa. FS freight business Mercitalia meanwhile is to order 714 wagons and 100 more ‘new-generation’ locomotives.

International activity

FS has reaffirmed its commitment to international growth, setting a revenue target of €2·3bn by 2023. This would come from offering ‘development, management and maintenance services’ for both high speed and conventional railways, urban transport networks and in freight and logistics. It will continue to offer specialist consultancy and staff training. Expansion outside Europe would be managed through a new subsidiary.

The group is also to establish three ‘centres of excellence’ to support investment in advanced technology and digitalisation and its wider corporate goals. These will be known as FS Technology, FS International and FS Security.

 

Source: railwaygazette.com

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Railway works from Aegion to Patras become a «Gordian knot»

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Σιδηροδρομικός Σταθμός Αιγίου

With mutilple issues in the construction sector, the new Infrastructure Minister, Mr. Kostas Karamanlis, will be called upon to take a number of serious decisions.

One of the «time bombs» that he should definitely disarm, or otherwise described, a «Gordian knot» to be solved is the issue of the railway contracts that will bring the train to Patras and more specifically, on Aegion-Patras section.

Infrastructure works are currently running from Aegion to Rio today, while there are three contracts under development that are due to expired by the end of 2023.

If the county fails to meet the above deadline, there will be a serious risk for the reimbursement of all funds received from NSRF for the entire Athens-Patras corridor, back to the EU.

The irony here is that the funding is not the No. 1 problem but the fact that the necessary projects have not yet been auctioned, while we are already in the second half of 2019.

The necessary works

The two contracts from Aegion to Psathopyrgos and from Psathopyrgos to Rio, concern superstructure works, electrification, signaling, train control systems and stations’ construction works.

At this time, the Large-scale Project Envelope matures so as to be approved by DG Regio. Here, even marginally, we can anticipate completion of these projects, by the end of 2023.

But the situation is far more serious regarding the contracting between Rio and Aghios Dionysion, in the centre of Patras. This project has been designed to be fully underground at a length of 5 km.

In fact, the project was announced to be auctioned in early 2019 with an initial cost of 400m euros, likely to double, making it doubtful for the EU to finance it.

Many scientists have previously expressed their opposition to the full undergrounding of the line due to the unstable subsoil that can cause a large financial burden and large technical challenges.

However, what is crucial is that the modern, electric train to reach Patras one way or the other by the end of 2023.

Works on Kiato-Rio railway line

At this time there are three contracts that are underway from Kiato to Rio. The first concerns the «broom contract» from Kiato to Aegion, which has reached its trial phase and is expected, at some point, to enter commercial operation.

Nevertheless, the almost completed double-track line even though will be released with new stations, is not yet electrified. For this project there is a tender in progress since last year and the contract is estimated to be signed over the coming period.

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Electrification goes live in northern Portugal

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Σιδηροδρομικός σταθμός με ηλεκτροκινούμενες γραμμές

Prime Minister António Costa and Housing & Infrastructure Minister Pedro Nuno Santos attended ceremonies on July 16 to mark completion of two electrification schemes on routes north of Porto. Both projects are part of the government’s Ferrovia 2020 investment plan.

A 14·2 km section of the Porto – Pocinho Douro Valley line has been wired at 25 kV 50 Hz between Caíde and Marco de Canaveses at a cost of €10·5m.

This will enable the Porto suburban network to be extended as far as Marco de Canaveses. Electrification of the rest of the line has been proposed, but for now passengers continuing up the valley on the popular tourist route towards Régua and Pocinho will need to change to connecting DMU services at Marco de Canaveses.

A 44 km section of the Minho line between Nine and Viana do Castelo has also gone live. This forms part of a wider upgrading of the Porto – Vigo route which crosses into Spain. Electrification has been undertaken at a cost of €16·5m and paves the way for direct inter-city trains between Viana do Castelo and Lisboa.

Regional services to and from Porto are to be accelerated by around 12 min, while the Porto – Vigo journey time is expected to fall by around 10 min thanks to investment in track renewals and resignalling. This is also intended to allow 750 m long freight trains to use the route.

Electrification work is already underway over the 48 km between Viana do Castelo and Valença on the border with Spain.

 

Source: railwaygazette.com

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Crete: Proposal for the introduction of electrified railway, under consideration

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Σιδηροδρομικός σταθμός με ηλεκτροκινούμενες γραμμές

For the very first time in the modern history of Crete, the discussion for the development of a railway that will reinforce transports in the island, linking its main cities, begins in the form of studies.

During a meeting of the Environmental Committee of the Region of Crete, held yesterday, the proposal for the introduction of a railway axis on the island was examined. The proposal was made by the Deputy Regional Chief for the Environment, Mr. Nikos Kalogeris, who noted that he intends to start a relevant survey (apparently icluding viability and cost efficiency studies) for a fixed-track, electrified means of transport, running along Crete  island.

The construction of a railway in Crete has been a long-standing issue, as the relevant conversation has begun since 1880, without ever being able to proceed. From time to time proposals have been presented, that always ended up in the drawers of ministries and local authorities.

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