World’s longest train tunnel to go on veiw before services commence
Testing is currently in progress on the world’s longest train tunnel, the new Gotthard Base Tunnel in Swizerland.

The 57km tunnel creates a new fast flattrack route under the Alpine massif in the heart of Europe, and is a key feature of an ambitious new north-south link, improving connections between north and south Europe, easing congestion on existing rail routes and taking traffic off the roads.

The tunnel has taken 17 years to build and is the work of constructor Alp Transit Gotthard AG. Once testing is complete, it is due to be handed over to operator Swiss Federal Railways SBB on 1 June 2016, a year ahead of schedule.

Before regular operations commence on 11 December 2016, SBB is giving vistors a unique opportunity to examine the interior of the tunnel. From 2 Aug to 27 Nov, the special ‘Gottardino’ train will carry visitors to record depths beneath the rock of the Swiss Alps and give them the opportunity to view the gigantic tunnel system at a temporary stop 800 metres below the surface. Once high speed trains are travelling through the Gotthard Base Tunnel a stop will no longer be possible.

Trains will travel at a maximum speed of 250km/hr, and it will take 20 minutes to pass through the tunnel. At the deepest point in the mountain there will be 2300 metres rock overlay.

Transnet delivers customised passenger coaches to Botswana
Botswana trainTransnet Engineering has delivered the first 22 of a total order of 37 passenger coaches to Botswana Railways. The remaining 15 will be delivered by May.

The order was placed last year as part of Botswana Railways’ plan to reintroduce passenger rail services, which had ceased in April 2009 after the Ministry of Works & Transport ended crosssubsidy from freight activities.

Engineered and manufactured at Transnet centres of excellence in Pretoria and Cape Town, the passenger coaches include features such as roof-mounted air conditioners, state-of-the-art firstclass sleeper designs, Wi-Fi technology and entertainment systems.

They were transported by rail to Gaborone from the company’s facility in Koedoespoort, east of Pretoria.


Eurotunnel regains its unique status and freedom from national control
The Conseil d’Etat has upheld an appeal from Eurotunnel that the French side of the Channel Tunnel should not be considered part of the French Rail network. This ruling confirms its unique status in perpetuity.

On 4 August 2014 a French Ministry of Transport decree had defined Eurotunnel as part the national railway network, and therefore subject to French railway reform.

Eurotunnel, which will operate the Channel Tunnel until 2086, appealed against the ruling on the grounds that the decree, which could only apply to the French half of the Channel Tunnel, was contrary to the terms of the Treaty of Canterbury which set out the bi-national nature of the Channel Tunnel in 1986.

This decision to uphold the appeal is definitive and not susceptible to further appeal.

Eurotunnel’s unique status means regulations cannot be imposed on only one side of the Channel creating obstacles and inconsistencies, or limiting its success factors: freedom to set prices for its Shuttle services or charges for use of its network as set out in the RUC (Railway Usage Contract).

Ontario partners with Thales Canada on $80m rail signalling solutions project
Ontario is to provide $12m of the estimated $80m cost of developing the next generation of rail signalling solutions for the Canadian railways. The development is being carried out by Thales Canada, a subsidiary of the French-based Thales Group.

The project will focus on research and advanced engineering to develop Canada’s Communication-based Train Control (CBTC) solutions for mass transit, including subways, light rail and commuter rail systems. It is expected to create 126 jobs in the province and retain another 963 over five years.

“Our support for Thales in Canada will help it ramp up its research and development work and leverage new and innovative technologies,” said Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure.