Posts Tagged ‘intercity rail passenger service’

Bombardier Miffed About Missing Out on VIA Order

December 15, 2018

A Canadian company is disgruntled about having been passed over for a new equipment order from VIA Rail Canada.

Alain Bellemare, the CEO of Montreal-based Bombardier, said it is “incomprehensible” that there is no requirement for local production to protect Canadian companies and jobs.

“We work in many countries around the world, and all countries require significant local content,” Bellemare said. “We see it in the U.S. It’s difficult to understand that here, we can’t find ways of protecting innovation, technology and jobs that are similar to all the other countries in the world.”

In announcing that it has chosen Siemens to be the builder of 32 new trainsets to be used for corridor service, VIA said on-time delivery was one reason why it bypassed Bombardier.

However, Bellemare said his company can fulfill orders on schedule despite it having missed some deadlines on a Toronto light rail project and delays on a New York subway contract.

“We’ve had a few production problems on some projects, which I began fixing in 2015, and we’re completely fixing them today in 2018,’’ he said. “So for me, this is really not a justification to decide for a C$1 billion project.”

The new equipment being built by Siemens will be assigned to the corridor between Quebec City and Windsor via Toronto.

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VIA Awards Contract for New Train Sets

December 13, 2018

Artists drawing of the new equipment being ordered from Siemens by VIA Rail Canada.

VIA Rail Canada has awarded a C$989 million ($741 million) contract to Siemens Canada to build 32 intercity train sets for use in the Quebec City–Toronto–Windsor corridor.

The new single-level equipment is expected to begin revenue service in 2022. It will be pulled by a locomotive based on the design of the Charger locomotives used by Amtrak.

VIA said in a news release that the new equipment will significantly increasing capacity to 9,100 seats.

VIA bases in Montreal and Toronto will maintain the equipment with support from Siemens under a 15-year Technical Services and Spares Supply Agreement.

The equipment will have LED lighting, USB ports, wide seats, quiet zones, bicycle storage racks, and flexible luggage space.

The fleet will exceed current accessibility standards for passengers with reduced mobility, including Braille seat numbering, companion seating, at-seat emergency call buttons, accessible toilets, and an integrated mobility device lift.

Siemens won the contract over bids submitted by Bombardier, Stadler and Talgo.

Brightline, Virgin Group Announce Partnership

November 20, 2018

Brightline and the Virgin Group have announced the formation of a partnership that will seek to provide the Brightline brand of intercity rail passenger service elsewhere in the United States.

In an announcement, the two companies said the partnership will involve a strategic partnership and trademark licensing agreement that will result in Bightline trains, stations and future developments being marketed under the brand Virgin Trains USA starting in 2019.

Brightline operates intercity rail service in Florida between Miami and West Palm Beach.

It has proposed extending gthat service to Orlando and Tampa, and is also seeking to acquire  XpressWest, which is seeking to establish a rail line between Las Vegas and Southern California.

Virgin Group has made a minority share investment in Brightline for an undisclosed amount.

Fortress Investment Group has retained majority ownership of Brightline.
Virgin Group operates intercity rail services in the United Kingdom, including Virgin Trains, a high-speed intercity passenger-rail system.

Study Favors Chicago-Fort Wayne Service

October 28, 2018

A preliminary study has determined that intercity rail passenger service between Fort Wayne and Chicago is possible between 2026 and 2030.

The study estimated the trains on the route could carry between 387,000 and 765,000 passengers a year by 2035.

Ridership will hinge on the average train speed and number of trips offered. The study examined various scenarios ranging from a top speed of 79 mph to 101 mph.

Although the study looked only at the segment between Chicago and Fort Wayne, that corridor is part of a larger route between Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, via Valparaiso, Gary, Plymouth, and Warsaw in Indiana, and Lima in Ohio.

The route between Chicago and Lima would follow or run parallel to the former route of Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Broadway Limited, which was rerouted away from those cities in late 1990.

The study, conducted by consulting firm HNTB, determined that the estimated capital costs are about $898 million for 79-mph service and $1.2 billion for 101 mph.

Texas Central Taps Renfe

October 11, 2018

Spanish company Renfe has been chosen to help operate a Texas high-speed rail service under development.

Texas Central said it has established a partnership with Renfe to operate the proposed service between Dallas and Houston.

Renfe will provide technical advice on design and construction and help Texas Central with operation and maintenance plans.

Another Spanish company, Adif, will help Renfe maintain equipment and signals, and oversee ticketing.

Renfe operates 5,000 trains daily on 7,500 miles of track in Spain.

PennDOT to Study Pittsburgh-Altoona Train

September 24, 2018

A feasibility study will be conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation of a Pittsburgh-Altoona passenger train.

PennDOT will review several studies on the Keystone West Corridor; and gather information about the existing right of way, current and projected freight-rail activity on the line.

The study will also develop cost estimates of the proposed service as well as three potential service plans, a travel-demand marketing assessment and ridership estimates.

The service would supplement the existing Amtrak Pennsylvanian, which operates between Pittsburgh and New York and is funded by PennDOT.

The route between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg is owned by Norfolk Southern.

Pennsylvania has commissioned previous studies of additional Amtrak service between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh but thus far nothing has materialized.

Group Wants Michigan Demonstration Trains

April 25, 2018

A Michigan environmental group is pushing for special demonstration trains to operate in summer 2019 between Traverse City and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Ground Center for Resilient Communities has been seeking intercity rail passenger service on the route for several years.

The group has raised $100,000 to conduct a study of the route’s potential that it expected to be completed this summer.

Preliminary findings have shown that the A2TC route as it has been dubbed could generate enough ridership to support a passenger train.

Much of that is based on the projection that tourism in Traverse City is expected to double from 6 million a year to 13 million by 2045.

“It could provide options for baby boomers moving up to the region and for college students at Baker, Alma, CMU, U of M,” said Jim Bruckbauer, deputy director of the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities. “We see the potential for what this can do for the downtowns between Traverse City and Ann Arbor — Owosso, Clare, Cadillac.”

Permanent rail service on the route is years away, but the group is eyeing operating some specialty trains in summer 2019.

NH Coalition Wants Rail Service to Manchester

February 1, 2018

A New England business coalition is trying to drum up support for extending intercity rail passenger service to Manchester, New Hampshire, from Boston.

The group New Hampshire Business for Rail Expansion claims that more than 50 businesses, organizations and individuals support the service, including Northwestern Mutual and University of New Hampshire.

The group is seeking to prod New Hampshire legislators to include the rail service in the state’s 10-year transportation improvement plan, which includes $4 million for the proposed project’s development phase.

That funding would go toward engineering, environmental and geotechnical analysis, as well as a financial plan for funding the service.

“New Hampshire’s economy is strong, but a well-documented lack of in-migration and aging population is hurting businesses that need to fill jobs, which is detrimental to the state’s future,” said coalition spokesman E.J. Powers. “For companies to grow and prosper right here in New Hampshire, they need access to a younger, highly educated workforce.”

The coalition said the route could serve a minimum of 668,000 annual riders.

Brightline to Start Revenue Service Jan. 13

January 11, 2018

Brightline will begin revenue service on Jan. 13 between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach,  Florida.

Fares include a “Try Our Train” fare of $10 per segment for basic service and $15 for Select service with larger seats and snacks and beverages. A segment is one way between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale over tracks of the Florida East Coast.

Service will initially be 10 daily weekday roundtrips and nine on weekends. The end-to-end trip will take 35 minutes with trains leaving as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m. Schedules will vary between weekday and weekend service.

In an announcement, Brightline said it expects to expand into downtown Miami in the coming months.

Brightline also said it has shaken up its management team, promoting Patrick Goddard to president in replacement of Chief Executive Dave Howard, who was hired in March 2017.

Trains will operate at a top speed of 79 mph operation on the 67-mile section between Miami and West Palm Beach. Trains are projected to operate at up to 110 mph in the next 133-mile phase of the project to Cocoa Beach.

Brightline To Start Service Next Week

January 3, 2018

Brightline is expected to begin scheduled service between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, starting next week.

The company has been operating test service in recent weeks to train staff and test equipment.

Service had been expected to start last summer but was delayed by legal, financial and environmental issues.

In time, Brightline plans to extend service to the Orlando airport.