Hyper contract
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Tongren Transportation & Tourism Investment Group of the People’s Republic of China, have signed the first hyperloop agreement in China. This marks the 12th agreement for HyperloopTT and the third commercial agreement for HyperloopTT following announcements in Abu Dhabi and Ukraine earlier in 2018.

HyperloopTT will be responsible for providing technology, engineering expertise, and essential equipment. Tongren will be responsible for certification, regulatory framework, and construction of the system. HyperloopTT will work in partnership with the government of Tongren in defining the route for the system. Financing will be done through a public private partnership with 50% of the funds coming directly from Tongren.

“We envision that Hyperloop will play into a bigger role of the Silk Road Economic Belt, connecting the region to the rest of the world,” said Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. “China spends over $300 billion annually on infrastructure to address their rapidly growing urban populations. Having worked alongside our government partners, Hyperloop has proven a viable solution for this immediate problem. Additionally, the unique topography of Tongren will allow us to refine our various construction methods with our partners.”

The power of collaboration
MTR Crossrail and trade union ASLEF’s successful working partnership has been recognised by the Involvement and Participation Association (IPA) in a newly published case study that highlights the pioneering working relations that have been developed and sustained by both organisations over the last few years.

According to the IPA, the MTR Crossrail and ASLEF case study is an inspiring example of organisations working together to achieve mutual gains and joint wins, of meeting challenges and building ongoing relationships, as well as demonstrating respect for each other’s views and trusting each other’s good intentions.

MTR Crossrail Managing Director, Steve Murphy, welcomes the publication of the IPA case study and has actively promoted this new way of working with trade unions for the mutual benefit of all parties: “At the heart of achieving improvements to the railway is an understanding of the role that we have as the managers and directors of the company and the role that the trade unions have as representatives of their members, our employees.

“We have successfully created strong bonds and relationships with our trade union partners, opening MTR Crossrail up to working alongside the unions on a transparent, day-to-day basis that has made us a pioneer in union relations for the entire rail industry.”

Mick Whelan, General Secretary of ASLEF, recognises the success of the relationship and is keen for it to continue into the future: “ASLEF believes in and supports any business with a collaborative vision, and we’ve worked alongside MTR Crossrail to create a strategic narrative. Our partnership working is going well and we need to keep it that way to help ensure a great service for passengers and a bright future for our members.”
Robust and reliable
TranstechTranstech Oy, the Finnish rail vehicle supplier and part of the Skoda Transportation Group, is relying on Voith Digital Solutions Austria’s electric drive system for an additional ten ForCity Smart Artic low-floor trams. The drive systems from St. Pölten have proven themselves in the existing Helsinki trams with an availability rate of more than 99%, after having driven more than 2.2 million kilometres.

Transtech Oy commissioned the first 40 low-floor trams with an electric drive system from Voith, during the latter part of 2017. An additional 20 vehicles are scheduled for delivery during 2019, with the last orders arriving by mid-2019. The scope of supply and services provided by Voith remains unchanged from the vehicles that have already been delivered.

The Artic low-floor tram achieves low-floor configuration despite a freely pivoting bogie. A separate motor-gear unit with a continuous output of 65 kW drives each of the eight axles of the 27.6 m long vehicle. The traction motors receive their input power via two EmCon double traction inverters with a continuous output of 2 x 220 kVA each. The integrated drive control ensures excellent control and optimum co-ordination of the components of the drive system. This affects important parameters of the rail vehicle, such as safety, energy efficiency and the vehicle’s lifespan.
Trams on track
After more than a 50-year break, Luxtram has reopened the Luxembourg City tram, which will eventually run from the city airport to the Cloche d’Or business district. For the first phase of the LCT 150project, the original signalling systems on the 3.5 km stretch between the Luxexpo conference and exhibition centre and Pont Rouge were also renewed. But instead of using conventional N.S1 relays, a new concept was deployed using HIMA’s commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) PLCs to meet the highest safety requirements and greatly increase the tram frequency.

One of the major benefits of using HIMA controllers is that the signalling system can be monitored centrally. Compared to conventional relays, they make Luxembourg’s tram traffic not only safer but much faster. This is because their high performance enables the time intervals between two trams to be considerably shorter.

Another important aspect to the project was to maintain the city’s architectural aesthetic. By using the compact HIMA technology, Luxtram was able to save substantial space in the track area: the new control cabinets were integrated into the architecture of the stops and transfer platforms. At the LuxExpo stop, for instance, the control cabinet is installed directly on the track. This saved the substantial costs and issues often incurred when using conventional technology which would require building of an entire technical room. This poses a major challenge for city planners and so, in densely built-up areas, are often laid underground near the tracks.
In Brief
Smart seamless travel
Rambus Inc’s award-winning mobile ticketing solution is operating in a pilot scheme with Scotland’s national rail operator, ScotRail. The new all-in-one solution is fully integrated with ScotRail’s existing ticketing app and will enable customers to skip the queue at ticket vending machines and tap through the gates by purchasing and downloading tickets directly to their smartphone. Rambus’ HCE Ticket Wallet Service leverages technology proven in the payments industry to create a virtual smartcard that securely stores tickets on mobile devices.

First installation complete
Working with the project’s mechanical and electrical contractors, Dodd Group, Zonegreen has installed its flagship Depot Personnel Protection System (DPPS™) at Alstom’s £21 million manufacturing and modernisation centre in Widnes. It includes road end panels, powered derailers, warning beacons and klaxons to protect staff from vehicle movements. The system provides physical protection to personnel working in the centre, in the form of Network Rail approved derailers, which prohibit any unauthorised vehicle movements. DPPS™ also contains audible and visual warnings that railcars are in motion and is the most advanced, reliable and tested product of its type.

Going digital
Virgin Trains has become the first UK train operator to offer digital Season Tickets, as it moves one step closer to getting rid of orange tickets altogether. The introduction of digital Season Tickets will help to achieve Virgin Trains’ target of fulfilling 50% of tickets in digital format by April 2019. Available to purchase from the Virgin Trains website, it removes the need to buy Season Tickets at the station and allows customers to select the format they prefer – on their mobile device, in their Apple Wallet or print-at-home.

New product
Network Rail-approved supplier Scott Parnell has launched its latest product for the rail industry. The ARCOsizeZERO is an elevated troughing system for the easy installation of lightweight fibre optic cables which will form the backbone of the digital age.

ARCOsizeZERO is a flexible system made of corrosion-resistant GRP (glass-reinforced plastic) material. It comes in complete six metre pieces which are simply slid into position without the need for loose nuts and bolts – minimising installation time for on-site engineers and thereby reducing the risk from working trackside.

Unlike traditional troughing, which is unnecessarily bulky for this application, the latest product is slim yet durable: offering the ideal solution for installation projects in congested areas or over difficult terrain. Troughs can be placed alongside railway lines or mounted to walls for tunnels and bridges, taking up far less space than normal cable-carrying channels.

Joining forces
Michel Boudoussier, Getlink Chief Corporate Officer, Dyan Crowther, HS1 CEO, Patrick Jeantet, SNCF-Réseau President and Luc Lallemand, Infrabel CEO, committed to join forces to co-ordinate the deployment of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) on their networks at a meeting in Paris on 19th July. Their aim is to share expertise, select a uniform technical system and work to a common deployment schedule. This co-operation will deliver savings from maximising the economies of scale and an optimised final result, which will benefit operators and ultimately passengers.

The rail triangle between London, Paris and Brussels is one of the busiest international European routes. The deployment of ERTMS will allow improved interoperability and better punctuality whilst avoiding obsolescence of current systems and increasing capacity, all to the highest safety standards.