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Posts from the ‘Rail’ Category

250 km/h ‘high speed metro’ in Guangzhou urban rail plan

Railway Gazette, 17 January 2020

CHINA: The Guangzhou municipal government has approved a 15-year plan to increase public transport’s market share to 80% through the development of a comprehensive urban rail network based on three metro, ‘express metro’ and ‘high speed metro’ networks.

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‘Romance’ of rail can mitigate skills crisis

Railway Gazette, 5 December 2019

AUSTRALIA: The rail sector needs to embrace rapid changes in workplace expectations in order to overcome a looming demographic crisis, delegates at the AusRail conference in Sydney heard on December 4.

Addressing a panel discussion on future employment trends, Tim Rawlings, Head of Training Product Development at PwC Australia, suggested that the wave of investment pouring into the market, combined with the ‘inherent romance of rail transport’, could help the sector attract a new generation of workers. ‘These younger people now entering the workforce are more driven by a sense of purpose than by money’, he added.

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Russian Railways orders high speed trains

Railway Gazette 7 June 2019

RUSSIA: Russian Railways has signed a €1·1bn order for a further 13 Velaro RUS high speed trains for use on the 650 km Moscow – St Petersburg route, Siemens Mobility announced on June 7.

The 10-car 3 kV DC trainsets will be supplied by Siemens Mobility and the Ural Locomotives joint venture of Siemens and Sinara Group. The contract includes 30 years of maintenance.

The order was signed on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. It follows the contract for an initial eight Velaro RUS trainsets which was signed by Siemens and RZD in 2006, and a follow-on order for eight more placed in 2011.

‘The fact that RZD is relying on Siemens Mobility for the third time in expanding its high speed fleet reflects the strong performance of our Velaro platform, which increases value sustainably over the entire lifecycle, enhances passenger experience and optimises availability’, said Siemens Mobility CEO Sabrina Soussan. ‘The Velaro has already proven its reliability in Russia after covering more than 50 million fleet-km since 2009.’

The Russian variant of the Velaro family is branded ‘Sapsan’ (Peregrine Falcon) by RZD. The 1520 mm gauge trainsets are designed to operate at up to 250 km/h on upgraded conventional infrastructure in temperatures ranging from -40°C to +40°C.

https://www.railwaygazette.com/news/traction-rolling-stock/single-view/view/russian-railways-orders-high-speed-trains.html )({},e,Obj

Swedes switch to trains due to global warming

DW.com 3 June 2019

Swedes seem to be following climate activist Greta Thunberg’s example in shunning air travel. The percentage that opted to take a train rather than fly has doubled in a year and a half. Flight shame may be at work.

One flight between Sweden’s two biggest cities, Stockholm and Gothenburg, generates as much carbon dioxide, the gas that contributes the most to global warming, as 40,000 train journeys, according to SJ, the country’s biggest train operator. Awareness of air travel’s impact on the planet has made 16-year-old Greta Thunberg eschew planes as she travels the world to make the case for saving the planet from environmental disaster.

Many of her compatriots, worried about the planet’s future, are also opting to forgo air travel. Almost twice as many Swedes chose to travel by train instead of plane in the past year and a half — from 20% to 37%, an SJ study by pollsters Sifo has found.

Sweden’s airports have noticed a change, too. Fewer Swedes are traveling by plane, according to Swedavia, which operates the country’s 10 busiest airports. Passenger numbers dropped by 8% domestically and 4% to destinations abroad from January to April 2019, compared to the first quarter of 2018. It’s a continuing trend: 2018 saw a 3% decline in domestic passenger numbers. More than half of those surveyed by Sifo, 57%, said they think about the environment when they travel in Sweden.

Some of them also think about shame, shame that they feel when they fly and thus contribute to global warming.

The concept of “flygskam” — feeling shame about flying — gained currency last year and was dubbed one of the most-used new words by Swedish language experts. It drew copious media attention along with the social media campaign #jastannarpamarken, translated into English as #stayontheground.

“There’s something about flying that triggers a lot of emotions in people, whether you’re a person who has decided to stay on the ground, or you’re a person who is still flying or who is reluctant to change your travel behavior,” said Frida Hylander, a Swedish psychologist who looks at how we behave in relation to climate change and the environment.

“I don’t think the focus on the flight issue is as big in other countries. It’s become very focused on flying in Sweden, perhaps because the Swedes are a population that flies lots, five times more than the general world’s citizen,” she said.

Climate crisis brings guilt and shame

But that may be changing as Swedes become more aware of global warming. The country has recorded some of the hottest summers ever in recent years, while the worst wildfires in modern times burned more than 25,000 hectares (100 square miles) of land last year. And as a highly educated, wealthy country, Swedes can arguably afford to care and to change their behavior to avoid shame.

“Shame is called our most social emotion,” said Hylander. “The function of shame is to make sure we don’t do anything that will exclude us from the group. There are a lot of things we do in our everyday life out of fear of shame. When we’re at a work meeting, we don’t fart loudly, even if we have to because that’s not socially acceptable or socially desirable.

“When it becomes more and more apparent that our flight behavior is unsustainable and we also become more aware of the acuteness of the climate crisis, I think that guilt and shame will be triggered,” she added. “It doesn’t have to be triggered by someone calling us out.”

Different behavior for longer journeys

But Swedes seem to have managed to set aside their guilty feelings when it comes to traveling abroad. Last year, Sweden’s busiest airports saw a 2% rise in passenger numbers.

The country’s northern location means train travel abroad takes a lot longer than a quick flight. A flight from Stockholm to Berlin takes an hour and 40 minutes. A train from Stockholm to Berlin takes around 16 hours.

Ving, one of Scandinavia’s biggest tour operators, is currently checking to see the extent of Swedes’ interest in taking trains to travel abroad, explained Fredrik Henriksson, the company’s head of communications. This year Ving reintroduced a charter train trip to the Swiss Alps that it had offered in 2010, a time when, as now, climate change had become a huge concern in Sweden. Customers didn’t bite, and the package was scrapped after a year.

The new package, which takes 26 hours from Stockholm to Davos, involves five changes before the travelers arrive for a week of hiking in the mountains. This time around the 30 spots did sell out, albeit after many weeks. That, Henriksson said, encouraged the company to launch a second train package to Switzerland and a third, originating in Copenhagen, which it is also marketing to its Swedish customers.

But those roughly 100 seats are nothing compared to Ving Sweden’s main business, which serves around 700,000 passengers annually, most of those by airplane.

https://www.dw.com/en/swedes-switch-to-trains-due-to-global-warming/a-49033136

Ireland Is Ready to Bet Big on Battery-Powered Trains

Citylab.com 5 June 2019

In an effort modernize its rail system, the country is looking to a technology it pioneered in the 1930s and ‘40s.

Ireland’s quest to modernize its train network could soon make it a global leader in battery-powered trains.

National carrier Iarnród Éireann launched its request for proposals last week to purchase 600 new train carriages by 2040—a near-total overhaul of a fleet that currently contains 629 carriages nationally. All those new trains would run on electricity, and up to half could be powered by batteries. That would represent a remarkable transformation for a network that today runs largely on diesel.

An order of this size for battery-powered trains is unprecedented globally. It does, however, make sense when you understand the particular conditions Irish railways are working under.

By Northern Europe’s high standards, Ireland’s rail system is a little behind the times, and it wants to catch up fast. The only part powered fully by overhead electric cables is DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit), the commuter rail system that serves the capital region. That in itself represents no small portion of the country’s rail traffic: DART contains nearly a quarter of the total Irish rail fleet (144 carriages out of 629 running nationally). Thanks to a €2 billion injection from the national government, this fully electrified network will be extended further out into the Irish capital’s hinterland—out as far as Drogheda, 30 miles to the north—with 300 new trains commissioned to serve the expanded network.

For the rest of the train network, however, overhead electric cables are probably a long way off, depending on the continuing goodwill and funding of future administrations. That’s where batteries come in: Up to 300 trains in the new order could be battery-powered, allowing them to reach almost every corner of the country without the need to install cabling everywhere.

Such trains are cable-battery hybrids that can run on both types of line. Where overhead cables are available, the train gains its power from them and charges its batteries. When the cables disappear, the train’s battery has enough life in it to power the train on conventional rails to the next cabled section. The batteries could also charge at train stations and gain some power from braking. This way, a little cabling can go a long way.

The solution seems sensible enough, but battery-powered trains are still a relatively rare form of transit. One possible reason for this is that the kind of country that goes big on new rail tech doesn’t necessarily need them, because most of their lines are electrified by cable already. Battery trains have so far been used more for smaller, less-frequented lines that have so far escaped electrification. They can be great for these, because they don’t require track alterations, but still deliver far greener, cleaner transit. Japan is already ahead of the curve here, having operated multiple battery-powered services since 2014, while the U.K. started some services in 2015. Austria also tested its first battery-powered model last month, while Scotland’s ScotRail has gone especially big by ordering 70 new battery-powered trains.

Ireland’s plan for up to 300 battery-powered trains still goes further than any other national rail system yet. As a relatively small country where distances are short, it’s perhaps better suited than most, as the lengths of track a train would have to cross before recharging via overhead cable wouldn’t necessarily stretch the batteries’ capacities.

And Ireland has a less-known history here: It was actually one of the world’s pioneers in battery-powered trains.

From 1932 to 1949, the country ran one of the earliest regular services of this type, running a service from Central Dublin to the nearby beach town of Bray that was powered by batteries invented by Irish chemist James J. Drumm. The technology was so novel at the time that the voiceover in the British newsreel footage below is obliged to explain what batteries are—“accumulators which [the train] carries”

As cars became more common and the dominance of oil-based fuels became increasingly unchallenged in the latter half of the 20th century, the service was switched to diesel, before ultimately closing for good. It did, however, function perfectly well for over 15 years, and may have even had an incidental role in making the purchase of contemporary battery-powered trains seem less unusual.

Ireland may not have a great reputation as a rail innovator, but in finding a relatively affordable way of reducing carbon emissions on an as-yet chronically under-electrified network, it could well offer other countries useful pointers.

https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/06/ireland-train-travel-battery-powered-tech-dublin-transit/591007/

Why Trains Are So Much Greener Than Cars or Airplanes

Citylab, 1 April 2019

Whether moving freight or people, rail is far more energy efficient and less polluting than other transportation modes. And it could get even cleaner.

Transportation represents a large portion—about 29 percent—of U.S. emissions, and the share has been rising in recent years. Rail proponents often argue that investment in trains and public transportation is a key part of making transportation cleaner, and indeed, the Green New Deal calls for greatly expanding high-speed rail.

I’m a scholar of rail, and it’s clear to me that the quickest way to decrease greenhouse gases from transportation is to travel by train and move goods by rail instead of on the road or by air.

To explain why, it’s worth comparing rail to other modes of transportation on energy consumption and emissions, and to look at some of the developments that can make rail more widely used in the U.S. and less reliant on fossil fuels.

Energy and emissions profiles

Data show that rail has a significantly lower energy footprint than trucks and passenger cars. Rail transport, with hard steel wheels on steel rail, has lower resistance to motion than road transportation. And the convoy formation of individual rail cars into trains also adds to its better energy and environmental performance.

A common measure for transportation capacity is ton-miles for freight and passenger-miles for passengers to indicate that a ton of freight is moved for one mile and for passenger systems that a passenger is moved for one mile.

Freight rail accounts for about one-third of the ton-miles and consumes only about 2 percent of the transportation energy in the U.S. The higher efficiency can be illustrated this way: On average, freight railroads move a ton of cargo for around 479 miles on a gallon of fuel, which is about 11 times more energy-efficient than trucks on a ton-mile basis.

Passenger rail is around three times more efficient than a car on a passenger-mile basis at current occupancy levels. The lower energy consumption leads to lower greenhouse emissions.

How U.S. and European rail differ

Often there is the perception that the U.S. lags behind other countries when it comes to rail, but in many cases that is not true. The country has, arguably, the best freight rail system in the world, which is owned, operated, and financed by private companies. Passenger service in specific corridors is comparable with the European counterparts: for example, in the Northeast. On long-distance routes and in less densely populated areas, however, there are often empty seats on Amtrak trains.

The primary difference between Europe and North America could be summarized like this: In America there is a freight rail system with some passenger, while in Europe there is a passenger rail system with some freight—the emphasis is different.

A further difference is that the rail network is private in the U.S. and operated to yield a profit, while in most other countries the rail infrastructure is owned by the government (similar to the freeway system in the U.S.) and heavily subsidized.

To compete with air for passenger transportation

Running passenger and freight trains on the same lines is possible but poses many challenges, as the characteristics of the two train types are very different; freight trains tend to be long, heavy, and comparatively slow, while passenger trains are short, fast, and comparatively light. If there are not too many trains on a line, this mixed traffic can be managed, but if there are a lot of trains, then separate infrastructure is the way forward.

When journey times are less than four hours, people usually prefer to travel by train instead of alternative options, such as air or road. For many corridors in the U.S. it would be necessary to upgrade existing lines or to build new infrastructure to achieve competitive journey times.

For the high-speed rail projects in California, which the state recently decided to scale back, and Texas, where trains would be able to travel at speeds of 200 miles per hour or more, those states are building new infrastructure. Higher-speed options often allow existing rail tracks to be upgraded to accommodate speeds of around 110 miles per hour to around 125 miles per hour, and such projects are being implemented in Florida and the Midwest.

Routes to better environmental performance

The majority of trains in the U.S. are diesel-electric, where a diesel engine runs a generator, supplying electric traction motors that turn the wheels. However, electricity can also be supplied by the grid to trains via wayside infrastructure, and this option accounts for about 4.5 percent of rail energy, more than for any other mode, with the majority being used in transit and commuter operation, and some intercity rail. Therefore, when the electricity generation mix becomes less greenhouse gas-intensive, those rail systems automatically follow.

For the lines where wayside electrification is not economically feasible—imagine routes that are long, such as Chicago to Los Angeles—or where traffic is relatively low, rail will continue to rely on on-board electric power generation.

Rail is developing options to reduce emissions for lines without wayside electrification too, with advanced diesel engine technologies, and exploration of less polluting energy options, including natural gas. Florida East Coast Railway has converted the majority of their locomotives to liquefied natural gas.

Having batteries to supply power to trains can significantly reduce or fully avoid conventional wayside electrification, decreasing cost and visual impact as no overhead wires are necessary on the right-of-way. These are suitable for relatively short distances and where power demand is low, such as light rail and streetcars. Detroit’s QLine, for example, operates 60 percent on battery power, or “off-wire.”

Hydrogen fuel cell applications to rail, often referred to as hydrail, enable long range with a lower environmental footprint than diesel, and such trains for regional passenger service are already in operation in Germany. In the U.S., the technology is being investigated by some passenger and transit railways, including in North Carolina, and its use for freight rail is being explored as well.

Even without these advances, rail is already more environmentally friendly than road or air. Dramatically expanding rail use, particularly passenger service, will require government investment in more frequent service on existing lines, starting service to areas that don’t have access to rail currently, reducing journey times and building out a larger passenger rail network.

https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/04/rail-transportation-carbon-emissions-green-new-deal/586240/

Melbourne airport rail link accord

Railway Gazette, 14 March, 2019

AUSTRALIA: Development of the long-planned rail link to Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport is set to move forward following the signing of Heads of Agreement between the federal government and the state of Victoria on March 13.

Announced jointly by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, the agreement sets out strategic objectives for the project, along with the governance arrangements and information sharing processes.

Pointing out that ‘Melbourne is truly a global city that deserves world-class infrastructure’, Morrison said the people of Melbourne and Victoria ‘had been waiting far too long for the rail link to become a reality’. He reiterated that the government had committed its A$5bn share of the investment as part of the last federal budget. This has been matched by a similar commitment from the state.

The Melbourne Airport Rail Link is provisionally costed at between A$8bn and A$13bn. Construction is expected to start in 2022 and take around nine years. The new line would run southwest from the airport to join the existing suburban network near Sunshine, where interchange will be provided with regional services to Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo. The Airport line would then continue via Footscray to enter the city from the northwest, connecting with the cross-city Metro Tunnel now under construction. It would also be linked to the planned orbital Suburban Rail Loop, providing access to the city’s northern, eastern and southeastern suburbs.

Detailed planning and development is currently underway, and a project team is to be established to develop the business case, which is due to be finalised next year. Rail Projects Victoria has already engaged technical and commercial advisors and commissioned geotechnical investigations.

According to Victoria’s Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan, early market engagement attracted more than 100 submissions, and further market sounding will be undertaken to assess the potential for private-sector involvement, including equity partners and other financing arrangements.

With Melbourne’s population growing rapidly, traffic through the airport is projected to increase from 35 million passengers in 2016-17 to more than 67 million by 2038. Construction of MARL would help to relieve the Tullamarine Freeway and increase transport capacity for the northwestern suburbs, explained federal Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure & Population Alan Tudge.

https://www.railwaygazette.com/news/infrastructure/single-view/view/melbourne-airport-rail-link-accord.html

Crossrail project likely to open in 2021 and cost more

International Railway Journal, April 3, 2019

COMPLETION of London’s Crossrail project is likely to be further delayed until 2021 and cost even more according to a scathing report by the British parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) published on April 3.

The 21km core underground section of Crossrail through central London from Paddington to Stratford and Abbey Wood was due to open in December 2018 but has been delayed indefinitely, while costs are steadily escalating. The Department for Transport (DfT) agreed to provide an additional £590m in July 2018, followed by a further £2.15bn in December 2018. This increased the total cost of the project by 19% from the £14.8bn agreed in 2010 to £17.6bn. However, Crossrail has been unable to provide a new opening date for the scheme.

“We are not satisfied by the DfT’s vague response to our questioning on how it protected taxpayers’ money when overseeing delivery of the programme,” says the PAC report. “We are not convinced that new services will start to run in 2020 as now hoped, nor that the additional £2.8bn of funding provided will be enough.”

“It is clear that the delivery deadline of December 2018 had been unrealistic for some time,” says the PAC chair, Ms Meg Hillier. “But the DfT, Transport for London (TfL) and Crossrail Ltd continued to put a positive face on the programme long after mounting evidence should have prompted changes. Wishful thinking is no basis for spending public money and there remain serious risks to delivering this programme, with a revised schedule and costings for completing the work still to be agreed.

“It is unacceptable that parliament and the public still do not know the root causes of the failures that beset this project. Nor will we accept the DfT and Crossrail Ltd’s description of these serious problems as systems failures.”

Key findings

The PAC lists six key findings and actions it wants the DfT to take regarding Crossrail:

Finding 1: the DfT, TfL and Crossrail’s fixation on a delivery deadline of December 2018 led to warning signs that the programme was in trouble being missed or ignored.

Action: explain within six months the steps the DfT is taking to encourage a culture of openness and transparency and how it will ensure that project teams reconsider completion dates for major programmes at key points through the programme.

Finding 2: it is unacceptable that the DfT and Crossrail are unable to identify the root causes of the programme unravelling so quickly and so disastrously.

Action: consider the root causes of cost increases and delays and set out by June 2019 lessons learned and their impact on the DfT’s approach to the project.

Finding 3: the unacceptably laissez-faire attitude by the DfT and Crossrail to costs potentially rising by nearly £3bn.

Action: the DfT should set out how it considered the value for money for taxpayers when it agreed to increased funding in 2018.

Finding 4: the programme is at risk from further cost increases and delays.

Action: after reaching agreement with Crossrail, the DfT must outline how it has assured itself that the revised schedule and cost to completion are robust; the DfT should also detail how the £2.8bn of extra funding will be allocated.

Finding 5: weak governance by the DfT and Crossrail characterised by a catalogue of failures to adequately oversee performance.

Action: the DfT must explain by July 2019 how it has changed its contractual relationship with Crossrail so that it can properly exercise oversight and hold Crossrail to account for its performance managing the programme to completion.

Finding 6: the DfT and Crossrail have been unwilling to accept their responsibilities for the significant delays and cost overruns.

Action: the DfT should clearly articulate by the end of April 2019 what it, TfL and Crossrail are responsible and accountable for and what the consequences have been for those senior officials in positions of accountability and responsibility for failures on the programme.

Trains in store

A few of the class 345 Aventra EMUs supplied by Bombardier that will be deployed on the Elizabeth Line are already in service on the surface sections between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, and Paddington and Hayes & Harlington. Limited testing is underway on the central section, but most of the fleet is in store.

Crossrail project likely to open in 2021 and cost more

Can rail investment act as an economic growth driver?

International Railway Journal

ONE of the most interesting observations to emerge from the first International Railway Congress, staged jointly in Vienna on March 18-19 by Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and Russian Railways (RZD), was made by Dr Stefan Buske, owner of Buske Law, who pointed out that the World Bank estimates a $US 50 trillion investment gap in all types of infrastructure including rail up to 2040.

“We must close the investment gap to prevent us from economic downturn,” Buske told delegates. Buske says there needs to be a focus on private investors because of limited public funding. “The good news is that we have outstanding prospects for infrastructure financing and for rolling stock in particular,” he continued. In addition to scarce government resources, Buske says the need for private investment is being driven by further liberalisation, such as Europe’s Fourth Railway Package, and an enhanced regulatory framework such as the expansion of the Luxembourg rail protocol, which aims to encourage private investment.

China is continuing to invest in infrastructure in order to spur economic expansion. As we report this month, China has decided to ramp up expansion of its already colossal high-speed network to help prevent a further reduction in the rate of economic growth. Having already built a 29,000km high-speed rail network – by far the world’s largest – its original plan to reach 30,000km will be achieved shortly and it now intends build another 8000km by 2025 and to reach 45,000km by 2030.

China is not alone in expanding its rail network. Russia plans to construct 20,730km of new lines by 2030, particularly in the far east. Apart from the Moscow – Kazan high-speed line, most of the new lines are for freight. Unlike China, where new lines are funded by the state leading to serious concerns about the level of debt, Russia intends to use a mixture of public and private finance.

Russia also plans to invest around €2.7bn in rolling stock and €1.3bn to acquire 23,000 locomotives. Buske says around 25% will be funded privately.

Investment in new railways should be based on a sound business plan to develop the infrastructure when it is completed. Yet some of the Chinese lines are being built in the sparsely-populated western part of the country for strategic rather than commercial reasons, unless the plan is to use them for freight to reduce transit times for container traffic between China and Europe as part of the ambitious Belt and Road infrastructure programme.

Unfortunately, the new standard-gauge railways in east Africa are being built with little thought to how they might operate commercially. Faced with a severe lack of freight traffic, the Kenyan government has tried to force shippers to use the new railway between the port of Mombasa and Nairobi rather than sending their goods by road. This is hardly the best way to attract new customers.

Returning to Asia, a lot of effort has been put into reducing rail transit times between China and Europe to make rail more attractive, but it was only when China started to subsidise rail freight that traffic started to grow. The big question is how long will the Chinese continue to subsidise the traffic? More effort needs to be made to remove bottlenecks between China and Europe to make the rail offer more compelling.

This point was illustrated by Mr Oleg Belozerov, RZD’s CEO: “We cover 4000km in five days, but we need to stop at the borders for two days, which kills all the time saving achieved. We must put more effort to speeding up border crossings.” Belozorev says there was a 9.7% increase in transit volume last year to 23.7 million tonnes, and 34% increase in container traffic to 553,000 TEUs. “We want to achieve 3 million containers a year,” he says.

Mr Vladimir Morozov, head of Belarussian Railways, acknowledged that despite a lot of effort to streamline freight operations on the China – Kazakhstan – Russia – Belarus corridor, there are still problems to solve. “Since 2013, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan have been cooperating, and work has stepped up to create a high-quality product with high standards of service for customers, while technical standardisation has much improved,” Morozov told delegates. “We have concluded contracts with more than 50 companies which has led to a shortage of wagons. Trains are often stopped at Brest [on the border with Poland where the gauge changes from 1520mm to standard]. The waiting times are too long, not only at Brest but at other border stations, which needs to be solved. In one month, we will inaugurate another border station.”

RZD believes that extending the 1520mm-gauge network from Kosice in eastern Slovakia around 400km west to Bratislava and Vienna, would be one way to accelerate traffic from Asia to Europe. RZD forecasts the extension could carry 22.9 million tonnes of freight by 2050. “We must give maximum attention to this project so that it can be implemented,” Belozerov urged delegates.

The challenge is to convince the Slovakians that building the line, the majority of which would be on their territory, will be to their advantage. RZD plans to stage three more annual International Railway Congresses in Vienna, as it is deadly serious about building this line. But this should not divert attention away from the need for other improvements to the Eurasian landbridge.

Can rail investment act as an economic growth driver?

Albanese labels Budget ‘con job’

Railway Express, 4 April 2019

Shadow infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese has slammed the Coalition’s Budget released on Tuesday night, saying most of the Government’s big infrastructure promises aren’t accounted for over the four-year forward estimates.

Albanese on Thursday warned voters not to fall for a “pre-election con job,” noting they would actually have to re-elect the Coalition at least twice before the bulk of the promised spending on big infrastructure projects would actually happen.

Despite making $6.1 billion in new infrastructure promises in New South Wales, Albanese says the Coalition’s Budget only includes $241 million of that over the next four years – or just four per cent.

He said $2.6 billion of promised extra funding in Queensland translated to nothing in the next financial year, and just $313 million, or 12 per cent, over the four-year forward estimates.

And in Victoria, just two per cent of a $2 billion promise to connect fast rail to Geelong is included in the next four years of planned spending.

Albanese accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of “reluctantly” acknowledging the need to invest in infrastructure, but “deferring any action to reverse his previous cuts and neglect”.

“Overwhelmingly the Budget announcements won’t commence in the next term or maybe even the term after that,” Albanese said. “These are grand promises on the Never Never.”

On Wednesday, the former deputy PM also accused the Coalition of copying Labor in its infrastructure promises, suggesting Labor was “leading from Opposition” on infrastructure.

“Projects including Adelaide’s South Road, the Perth Metronet, the Rockhampton and Mackay Ring Roads, Melbourne’s South-East Suburban Road Package and the Western Sydney Rail are all existing Labor commitments,” Albanese said.

“Projects like Tasmania’s Freight Rail Revitalisation Program and the Gladstone Port Access Road were funded by the former Labor Government, cut by the Coalition and have now been reinstated on the pretence that they are new.”

Albanese labels Budget ‘con job’

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