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Projects on 5 Continents Highlight Continuing World Rail Transit Boom
Light Rail Now Project Team · August 2010
Urban rail transit continues its vigorous expansion and upgrade in cities around the globe. Recently Railway Gazette International (RGI, 20 May 2010) posted a round-up "Urban rail news in brief" checking off an array of recent rail transit developments in North America, Australia, Africa, Europe, and Asia.
This sampling provides just a brief perspective on the busy and intensive urban rail development activity taking place worldwide.
Toronto, Canada The metro area's Metrolinx project to install a fast rail link to the city's major airport advanced with the purchase from the Canadian National railway of a route segment west of Toronto Union station by the Greater Toronto transport authority Metrolinx for C$168 million. RGI notes that this segment "is part of the busiest GO Transit commuter corridor and provides access to a depot."
Gold Coast, Australia Queensland's Gold Coast new rapid transit (light rail) project took another major leap forward, as the project team began evaluating "expressions of interest" from six consortia for a public-private partnership (PPP) contract to design, build, operate, and maintain Phase I of the light rail system to be implemented from Griffith University to Broadbeach. The selected bidder is expected to be announced in March 2011 "with the operating franchise starting in May" according to RGI. The 13-km (8.1-mi) corridor is projected to open in 2014.
Rabat, Morocco The first Citadis-model low-floor tram (streetcar) for the new 20-km (12.4-mi) Rabat-Salé light rail network in Morocco began trial running on a 2-km (1.2-mi) test track in the Hay Karima district of Salé on March 30th.
Railcar manufacturer Alstom is supplying 22 pairs of Citadis trams to operate the system.
The two-line network, with 31 stops, is scheduled to open in December.
Berlin, Germany The city's Mayor officially launched construction of a 2.2-km (1.4-mi) extension of U-Bahn Line U5 (subway rail rapid transit) from Alexanderplatz to Brandenburger Tor, with three intermediate stations, on April 13th. "The line will connect U5 to the recently-opened U55 when it is completed in 2017" reports RGI.
Marseille, France On March 27th, Marseille transport operator RTM opened a 700-meter (0.4-mile) extension of light rail tram Line 2 from Euroméditerranée Gantès to Euroméditerranée Arenc. In addition, a 2.5-km (1.6-mile) extension of metro Line 1, from La Timone to La Fourragère, with four new stations, is scheduled to enter service later this year.
Amman, Jordan Jordan's Ministry of Transport has awarded a contract to Egis Rail for the preparation of a feasibility and preliminary design report for a proposed US$1.2 billion urban rail network in Amman. According to RGI, "The build-operate-transfer contract for phase I, between Raghadan and the University of Jordan, is due to be tendered [offered for bids] in the third quarter of 2010 for award in early 2011."
Manila On March 22nd, Manila transit agency LRTA expanded its light rail services to Balintawak, the first of three stations on a 5.7-km (3.5-mile) northern extension of Line 1. A link to urban rail line MRT-3 at North Avenue is projected for completion in November.
Chicago, USA On April 19th, after six months of testing in non-revenue service, 10 prototype rapid transit cars began carrying passengers on Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) metro's Red Line. Canadian railcar manufacturer Bombardier is supplying a total 406 cars to replace the older cars beyond their useful life. "Once the prototypes have finished test runs on all eight lines, CTA will settle on final specifications and series production will begin" reports RGI, adding delivery will be completed by 2013 at a cost of US$603.6 million. "CTA hopes to order 300 more when funding becomes available" relates RGI.
Denver, USA On March 31st the metro area's Regional Transportation District signed a US $143.8 million agreement to purchase rights-of-way and other property from the BNSF railroad for two FasTracks rail projects. Encmpassed by the purchase are RTD's proposed Gold Line route to the exurbs of Arvada, Wheat Ridge, and Golden, and segments of various regional passenger rail ("commuter rail") corridors radiating out of Union Station, including the airport and Longmont services.
Miskolc, Hungary Railcar builder AnsaldoBreda has been selected by the Miskolc city council to supply 31 Sirio-model lowfloor trams (light rail cars) for the city's tram network, following the evaluation of four bids. AnsaldoBreda will supply two prototypes by 31 January 2012, followed by three vehicles per month starting on April 30th, with the final two trams due to be delivered by January 31 2013. The rolling stock contract is part of a project to reconstruct 9.6 km (6.0 mi) of existing route, plus modernizing the carbarn (maintenance-storage facility), and building a 1.5-km (0.9-mile) extension from Diósgyör to a new transport hub (interconnection center) at Felso-Majláth.
Riga, Latvia The tramway (light rail) network a 1524-mm (about 5-ft) wide-gauge system a50; is being significantly upgraded with new rolling stock, and on April 15th one of the prototypes of the new fleet, a Skoda 15T ForCity 100% lowfloor articulated tram, made its first trial run. The three-section unidirectional car is 31.4 m (about 103 ft) long and 2500 mm (about 8 ft) wide with 60 seats and space for 260 standees. It has a maximum speed of 70 km/h (43 mph). Transit agency SIA Rigas Satiksme awarded Skoda a €51.7 million (about US $67 million) contract in 2008 to supply 20 trams by January 2011, with an option for 32 more, to be deployed on the system's renovated Route 6 between Radio iela and Jugla, replacing 40 of the oldest cars.
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