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Siemens Mobility will equip the classification yard at Maschen, Germany, the largest freight hub in Europe, with new control technology. Siemens has been awarded the order by DB Netz AG to upgrade a total of 88 classification tracks with the MSR 32 classification control system by mid-2013. The first classification tracks are due to go into service as early as August 2010. The order is worth E$18 million euros (US$27 million).

The Maschen class yard, near Hamburg, is the main hub for freight traffic of the seaports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven as well as traffic bound for Scandinavia. Cars of regional, national, and international freight trains are split and made up into new trains for the next leg of their journey. To provide for the increasing importance of freight transportation at the seaports, equipment from the 1970s is to be upgraded as part of comprehensive construction measures.

The modification of the classification yard will be carried out while normal operation continues. Siemens will be modernizing 48 classification tracks and the classification zone of the South-North (MSN) hump yard and 40 classification tracks of the North-South (MNS) hump yard. The MSR 32 control system deployed by Siemens controls radio remote control-operated locomotives,  routing of rolling stock and their speed at  master, intermediate, and group retarders and, by means of the haulage systems, makes up the cars ready for coupling in  classification tracks. The routing control sets the switches for all the cuts from the hump to the classification tracks automatically. A continuous computation of the variable hump speed and cut monitoring reduces the risk of bumping or catch-ups.

During the modernization phase, the MSR 32 system will control both the old and new classification systems.

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metra.jpg At a time when base sales tax receipts have eroded to a 10-year low, Chicago’s Metra commuter rail service has proposed a $613 million 2010 operating budget that calls for no changes in service and some revisions to its fare structure.

The proposed fare structure includes adjustments in one-way fares and the first change in the cost of weekend passes since the program began in May 1991.  One-way fares would increase about 6%, an average of about 30 cents a ticket. Weekend fares,  for unlimited rides on Saturdays and Sundays, would increase to $7 from $5. To simplify onboard fare collection, increases will be rounded to the nearest quarter, a practice common to other U.S. commuter rail operations. 

The impact of the new fare structure on regular Metra riders will be limited, since most use 10-ride tickets and monthly passes, the cost of which won't change. The new fare structure, which would start Feb. 1, 2010, “is intended to encourage customers to use 10-ride tickets and monthly passes, which already offer a discount over the one-way fares,” Metra said. Those multiple-ride options “are easier than ever to purchase,“ because Metra recently invested $3.9 million in a new website that allows riders to buy 10-ride tickets and monthly passes on line with credit and debit cards. To encourage riders to buy tickets at stations and over the Internet, Metra would increase the penalty for onboard purchases to $5 from $2. That penalty is not assessed on passengers who board at unmanned stations.

Metra says it has adopted a variety of cost-containment measures that saved about $4 million in administrative costs, including leaving about 150 positions unfilled, freezing management salaries, and asking non-union employees to contribute more toward their health insurance premiums. Metra also cited recent actions of the Illinois state legislature that increased the regional transportation sales tax last year andapproving a public works bond program earlier this year. Those provisions, Metra said, “are greatly assisting in balancing our budget and investing in our infrastructure.”

Public hearings on the proposed budget and presentations to the boards of the six counties in Metra’s service area will be held over the next few weeks. The budget also must be approved by the Regional Transportation Authority.

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IBM and MERMEC Group will jointly present a technical paper on their "Smart Management Platform for Railway Infrastructure" at The Permanent Way Summit organized in Beijing by the Ministry of Railways and the China Railway Association on October 26 the gathering will attract the attention of the local railway industry on the latest technologies available for railway infrastructure management. Several important M.O.R. executives, including Kang Gaoliang, general director of the M.O.R. Permanent Way Department, as well as the Leaders from the local Railway Bureaus and CARS will attend the Summit.

The new Chinese Railway Networks will incorporate million of sensors that will verify all aspects of rail operation from train speed to brakes needed to be replaced. Building these intelligent Rail Networks will require a high-powered, integrated system that can collect, manage and analyze an enormous amount of data flowing in from the tracks, through the trains and stations, and across the maintenance process.

The "Smart Management Platform" presentation will introduce RAMSYS, a decision-support system for maintenance and renewal planning, and MAXIMO, a linear asset management system. The focus will be on the greatest priorities of today and tomorrow for railway authorities: safety and preventive maintenance.

Smarter capabilities and greater insight can help prevent accidents before they happen. Sensor-based early detection of potential equipment failures provides a more optimal predictive maintenance scheme, and various monitoring capabilities for rail infrastructure such as tracks and trains can reduce disruptions to passenger and freight service.

Working on these projects demands a unique set of products, skills and services. IBM and MERMEC Group can jointly offer these skills and put the products and services into action, the two companies note.

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The Maschen marshaling yard at the gates of Hamburg is the main hub for freight traffic of the seaports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven as well as toward Scandinavia. Here the cars of regional, national and international freight trains are split and made up into new trains for the next leg of their journey. In order to provide for the increasing importance of freight transportation at the seaports, marshaling equipment from the seventies is to be upgraded to the state of the art as part of comprehensive construction measures.

The modification of the classification yard will be carried out while normal operation continues. Siemens will be modernizing 48 classification tracks and the classification zone of the South-North (MSN) hump yard and 40 classification tracks of the North-South (MNS) hump yard. The MSR 32 control system deployed by Siemens controls the radio-operated locomotives, the routing of rolling stock and their speed at the master, intermediate and group retarders and, by means of the haulage systems, makes up the cars ready for coupling in the classification tracks. The routing control sets the switches for all the cuts from the hump to the classification tracks fully automatically. A continuous computation of the variable hump speed and cut monitoring enables the risk of any bumping or catch-ups to be avoided.

During the modernization phase the control system from Siemens must be able to control both the old and new classification systems.

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At a time when the economy is tough and base sales tax receipts have eroded to a 10-year low, the Metra Board of Directors unveiled a $613-million operating budget that calls for no changes in commuter rail service in 2010 and some revisions to its fare structure.

Metra is grateful for the recent actions of our elected officials in Springfield, first for addressing its operating needs by increasing the regional transportation sales tax last year and then for addressing its capital needs by approving a public works bond program earlier this year. Those efforts are greatly assisting Metra in balancing its budget and investing in its infrastructure.

The new fare structure includes adjustments in one-way fares and the first change in the cost of weekend passes since the program began in 1991. But the impact of the new fare structure on regular Metra riders will be limited, since most use 10-ride tickets and monthly passes and those fares won't change."Any fare adjustment is difficult, particularly in today's economy, but we believe we are taking a responsible, targeted approach that is sensitive to the needs of our passengers," said Metra Chairman Carole R. Doris.

Metra's new fare structure, which would start Feb. 1, 2010, is intended to encourage customers to use 10-ride tickets and monthly passes, which already offer a discount over the one-way fares. Those multiple-ride options are easier than ever to purchase, because Metra recently spent $3.9 million on a new Website that allows riders to buy 10-ride tickets and monthly passes online with credit and debit cards.

To encourage riders to buy tickets at stations and over the Internet, Metra would increase the penalty for on-board purchases to $5 from $2. That penalty is not assessed on passengers who board at unmanned stations.

One-way fares would increase about six percent, an average of about 30 cents a ticket. In order to simplify on-board fare collection, the increases have been rounded to the nearest quarter, a practice common to other commuter rail operations in the United States.

Weekend fares would increase to $7 from $5. This would be the first increase in the existence of the weekend fare program, which started in May 1991. During that time, Metra has raised its general fares four times (in 1996, 2002, 2006 and 2008). Weekend passes are good for unlimited rides on both Saturday and Sunday.

The tough economy has prompted Metra to adopt a variety of cost-containment measures that saved about $4 million in administrative costs, including leaving about 150 positions unfilled, freezing management salaries and asking non-union employees to pay more for their health insurance.

Public hearings on the proposed budget and presentations to the boards of the six counties in Metra's service area will be held over the next few weeks. The budget also must be approved by the Regional Transportation Authority.

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The New York Metropolitan Transportation Agency faces a $113 million cut in state funding in the new fiscal year if the legislature accepts Gov. David A. Paterson's plan for dealing with a looming state deficit.

The MTA cut is part of a $2 billion reduction in state funding that Paterson said Thursday he will propose for the fiscal year that begins next April. The reduction would help close a projected state deficit that has now ballooned to $3 billion.

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MTA, a state agency that operates the New York City subways, the Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North Railroad, has been struggling with its own daunting defects. The agency has imposed sizeable fare increases and some service cuts. A financial plan released July 29 projected cash balances of $29 million in 2009, $39 million in 2010, and $1 million in 2011, and "manageable deficits for 2012 and 2013."

At that time, MTA said that "significant spending restraints, building on the substantial expense reduction taken in 2009, [will] save $64 million in 2010 and grow to $279 million by 2013."

That is the context in which MTA received news of a substantial loss of millions of dollars in state funding for the new fiscal year. The agency had no immediate comment.

--> The New York Metropolitan Transportation Agency faces a $113 million cut in state funding in the new fiscal year if the legislature accepts Gov. David A. Paterson's plan for dealing with a looming state deficit. ...

Bids for upgrading a Metro-North rail yard in New Haven, Conn., have come in significantly lower than the $291 million anticipated cost, according to the Connecticut Department of Transportation, which oversees Metro-North operations in the Nutmeg State. The agency said Torrington, Conn.-based O&G Industries submitted the lowest bid, $124.8 million.

The work involves upgrading maintenance shop capabilities adjacent to New Haven's Union Station, establishing a central repair hub for the state's fleet of Metro-North’s new M-8 rail cars.

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In a statement, state Gov. M. Jodi Rell said she was pleased with the unexpectedly low estimate for the work, and touted the additional economic boost the related construction jobs will provide state businesses once the project is under way. "The immediate impact, of course, is the construction jobs created by the project, but the overall impact will greatly upgrade commuter rail service in Connecticut with state-of-the-art cars and a state-of-the art facility to service them," she said.

The bid is under review, a process that can take two months, with the DOT planning to start construction this winter, DOT spokesman Judd Everhart said.

 

--> Bids for upgrading a Metro-North rail yard in New Haven, Conn., have come in significantly lower than the $291 million anticipated cost, according to the Connecticut Department of Transportation, which oversees Metro-North operations in the Nutmeg State. The ...

Washington state’s Port of Vancouver has identified localcontractor Rotschy Inc. as the low bidder for constructing a 7.3-mil rail loop at Terminal 5, designed to expand the inland port’s intermodal capacity. Rotschy outbid four other competitors with a low bid of $15.26 million, portofficials said.

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The rail loop is part of the $137 million West Vancouver Freight Access project, which will encircle 1.8 miles of the port's new Terminal 5 on the former Alcoa-Evergreen aluminum site. The contract includes grading and excavation work as well as construction of the rail line and electrical work.

The port commission expects to formally award the contract to Rotschy at its Oct. 27 meeting. Work is to begin next month, with completion by June 18, 2010.

All five bids came in above the port's budgeted project cost of $14.6 million due to the addition of three optional items that weren't included in the original estimate, said Julianna Marler, senior contract manager for the port. The port will likely remove one or two of the options, which include additional lighting and an extra track, to fit within the budget, Marler said.

"It'll be a larger contract for our company," said Dan Korpela, senior estimator for Rotschy Inc., which employs about 100 workers. "Our schedule going into winter for our grading crews is empty and to get this project will keep a lot people working for the winter."

--> Washington state’s Port of Vancouver has identified localcontractor Rotschy Inc. as the low bidder for constructing a 7.3-mil rail loop at Terminal 5, designed to expand the inland port’s intermodal capacity. Rotschy outbid four other competitors ...

Italy Infrastructure Minister Altero Matteoli said Friday work on a controversial high speed rail line linking the city of Turin with Lyon, France, would resume late this year, most likely in December.

Construction on the Italian portion of the route was halted by protests before and after the Turin Winter Olympics in 2006. Some regional residents protested HSR’s potential impact, and also objected to planned tunnel construction along the route, claiming such work would release harmful materials such as asbestos and uranium.

The Turin-Lyon route is one of several in the European Union’soverall effort to unite the continent with high speed rail links stretching from Lisbon, Portugal, to Kiev, Ukraine.

--> Italy Infrastructure Minister Altero Matteoli said Friday work on a controversial high speed rail line linking the city of Turin with Lyon, France, would resume late this year, most likely in December. ...

The long-proposed and long-struggling proposal for a light rail transit line on Manhattan’s famed 42nd Street resurfaced into public view this week, courtesy of The New York Times. The proposal envisions LRT linking the United Nations Building, on Manhattan’s East Side, with Grand Central Terminal, Times Square, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal, before reaching the Jacob Javitts Convention Center on the West Side.

The Times duly notes the proposal has failed to gain support from current Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose administration suggests the line would “compete” with MTA New York City Transit’s existing subway lines (both the No. 7 and the "Shuttle") and bus services, as well. Bloomberg has invested substantial political capital, as well as considerable city fiscal resources, to extend the No. 7 west from its current terminus at Times Square.

Left unaddressed under this logic is why MTA’s existing modal services aren’t considered in “competition” with each other already. But the Bloomberg administration at leasts offers a reason for its reluctance; predecessor Mayor Rudolph Giuliani studiously ignored the 42ndStreet proposal despite support from some business groups.

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George Haikalis, co-chairman of citizens group Vision42, notes the group has tried to advance the idea for more than 10 years, but acknowledges that Mayor Bloomberg’s support could be a decisive factor. “The real gain here is you could handle three times as many people with roughly the same cost,” Mr. Haikalis said. “A lot of people have expressed interest in this, but have not signed on, because they’re awaiting interest from Mayor Bloomberg.”

Haikalis, assisted over the years by rail advocates in New York and New Jersey and by various lower-level city transportation staffers supportive of LRT (even if the city is not), has conducted field trips across the Hudson River on Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit, which runs on a north-south route paralleling Manhattan and the river, for interested city and state officials.

“City officials can literally see HBLRT from their windows in their Manhattan offices,” Haikalis observed recently to Railway Age, “but somehow can’t make the connection that a successful light rail line literally in full view could be duplicated in Manhattan itself.”

Others have grasped the concept, however. Among those supporting Vision42’s concept, in whole or in part, are Douglas Durst, the chairman of the Durst Organization, which owns five office buildings on 42nd Street, and Jeffrey Katz, chief executive of Sherwood Equities, which owns One Times Square as well as the building housing the Renaissance Hotel in Times Square.

Katz, among others, has reservations over closing 42nd Street completely to auto traffic, but supports the LRT concept. Others have questioned how truck deliveries would be made to businesses along the route, though Vision 42 notes almost every building on the street already have freight access on adjacent streets.

--> The long-proposed and long-struggling proposal for a light rail transit line on Manhattan’s famed 42nd Street resurfaced into public view this week, courtesy of The New York Times ...
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