Trains begin running on Hong Kong’s sensitively designed new South Island Line
Hong Kong MTR’s new South Island Line went into operation on 28 December 2016, serving the 350,000 residents and workers in Southern District.

The new line runs in a combination of underground sections and on elevated structures, with five stations in total.

The MTR Corporation appointed Atkins to provide the detailed design for 1.9km of new elevated viaduct, two elevated new stations at Ocean Park and Wong Chuk Hang, a new 247m bridge spanning the Aberdeen Channel, noise barriers, widening of a major open nullah for drainage, slope works, complex utility diversions and other associated works.

“As the South Island Line is an elevated railway on the densely populated Hong Kong Island, it was a particularly challenging project as it is becoming progressively more difficult to build above ground railway lines in Hong Kong,” said John Blackwood, Atkins’ director for transport in Asia Pacific.

Challenges included achieving an optimal design while taking into account stakeholders’ requirements, sensitively treating the visual impact of the above ground structures and minimising the disturbance to the properties along the alignment.

Network Rail awards £49m contract for electrification of the final section of the Shotts Line
Carillion Powerlines Ltd has won the contract to deliver the electrification of the last section of the Shotts line, between Holytown Junction and Midcalder Junction in Scotland. When completed, the Shotts line will be the fourth fully electrified line between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and electric services are scheduled to commence in 2019

The £49m contract covers all aspects of the physical delivery and installation of 74km of the electrification infrastructure including vegetation clearance, site and geological investigation, design, piling and mast installation, wire runs, safe supply of power, integration into the wider electrified rail network, energisation and all aspects of compliance with industry standards and regulation. This will be carried out in tandem with work on a range of bridges as part of a route clearance programme to ensure the power cables can run under structures on the line.

The project is a Scottish Government investment and part of Network Rail’s UK wide railway upgrade plan.

Metrolink set to enter a new operating era at the end of July
MetrolinkThe contract to operate Greater Manchester’s iconic Metrolink network – now the largest of its kind in the UK – has been awarded to KeolisAmey and will run for 10 years from July this year.

KeolisAmey is a joint venture partnership of UK public transport operator, Keolis, and infrastructure asset management specialist, Amey. They will take over when the current contracts with RATP Dev and MPT end in July.

The appointment follows a competitive process led by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) involving three other shortlisted bidders, and has been ratified by Greater Manchester’s Combined Authority leaders.

Tony Lloyd, Greater Manchester Mayor, said: “Greater Manchester’s transport leaders have judged KeolisAmey on their plans for Metrolink, which are focused on improving reliability, customer service, and creating more customer-facing roles, such as drivers and customer service representatives.

“They have also committed to creating hundreds of new jobs, including graduate roles, apprenticeships and traineeships, and to source almost half of their supplier contracts locally.”

Key features of the contract include:

  • The creation of more than 300 jobs including drivers, apprenticeships and traineeships, and a commitment to upskill, enhance training and qualifications for staff.
  • A major focus on improving operational reliability, and customer service and security with an increased staff presence on the network – particularly in the evening and at weekends.
  • A commitment to source a minimum of 40% of supplier contracts within 25 miles of Greater Manchester, and customer and community engagement, including Meet the Manager and Tweet the Manager sessions.

KeolisAmey currently operates London’s Docklands Light Railway (DLR), while Keolis operates Nottingham’s NET (Nottingham Express Transit) tram network.

Could solar energy power the third rail?
Imperial College London and climate change charity 10:10 are to investigate using trackside solar panels to power trains.

Initially their Renewable Traction Power project will look at the feasibility of converting 750V DC third rail systems to receive DC directly from solar panels, thereby bypassing the electricity grid.

According to 10:10’s Leo Murray, peak generation from solar panels and peak demand from the trains more or less match, but at the moment the two can’t be connected. The team will be the first in the world to attempt this.

The technical aspects will be addressed through a collaboration between Imperial College who will be working on integration and management of renewable energy sources into electricity grids, and Turbo Power Systems concentrating on the distribution and management of power in the rail sector. Meanwhile, 10:10 and Community Energy South will examine the financial sustainability of the systems.

Ilford station overhaul
A major overhaul of Ilford station has been given the goahead by Redbridge Council. The work will include a new station building with striking glass facade, a larger ticket hall and more ticket gates, and lifts from street level to platforms. The project is part of the Crossrail programme.

Signalling contract in Taiwan
Thales has won a new signalling contract in Taiwan on the Light Rail Transit extension in Kaohsiung. It includes supplying interlocking systems, traffic light priority systems and automatic vehicle localisation systems. It follows an April 2015 contract for the design and manufacture of signalling, communications and operational control centre systems for the Danhai LRT in the north of Taipei.

Kilmarnock station revamp
Vacant station buildings at Kilmarnock station have been transformed into a community hub, with £500,000 of funding from local and national organisations. The unused spaces have been converted into a book shop, café, gift shop, and office spaces, while rooms are hired out for activities ranging from yoga and art classes to walking groups.

750mph Hyperloop
Four UK projects have been shorlisted among 35 schemes to develop Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept, a new mode of travel that would run pods at 750mph on magnetic track. Semi-finalists must now submit detailed models, maps and videos of their design. The UK four are for lines from London to Edinburgh, Liverpool to Hull, Glasgow to Cardiff, and a Northern Arc.

Middlesbrough station repairs
The long-awaited £2.7m refurbishment of Middlesbrough station is due to begin this spring. A specialist contractor is to repair the station roof and stonework on the Grade II listed building over a 13-month period. Meanwhile, Middlesbrough Council is commissioning a masterplan study for the station focusing on transport connectivity and regeneration of the surrounding area.

TfL tram track upgrade for February
The London Tramlink services between Wimbledon and Mitcham will stop operating from 11 to 20 February to enable 750 metres of track to be replaced between Morden Road and Merton Park. At the same time, both track and signals will be replaced in the Dundonald Road crossing area.

Special burial for Metrolink remains
The remains of over 200 bodies, unearthed in a forgotten graveyard during city centre Metrolink works, have been interred at Manchester’s Southern Cemetery. The graveyard was discovered in Cross Street in early 2013, and dates back to the 1720s to the 1850s. It belonged to the non-conformist Cross Street Chapel.

Northern Line extension
Tunnelling for the Northern Line extension is due to begin in March, London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has confirmed. Two 650-tonne tunnel boring machines have been delivered to Battersea, and will create two 3.2km underground tunnels, extending the Charing Cross branch of the Northern line from Kennington to Battersea via Nine Elms.