Mar 18, 2014

14 station designs submitted to Kochi Metro, Delhi Metro for approval

KOCHI: The Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) - the agency which has been entrusted with the task of designing Metro stations - has submitted its designs (of 14 stations) to Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) for their approval.

Designs of the stations would reflect the socio-cultural aspects of Kerala. As per the plan, the stations will have the features of houseboats, palm (coconut) leaves, waves, Kasavu Saree, Kathakali, etc.

Sources with the IIA said, "Of the 22 stations, designs of 14 have been completed. A presentation regarding the designs was made before KMRL on Friday and Saturday. After getting suggestions from the Metro agency, we will submit the entire design, including sketches and drawings, to them. The process will be completed in a couple of months."

The main structure of the stations like floors and doors is being designed by Aegis. "The IIA team is doing designs of roof and interiors of these stations. A special committee comprising representatives of KMRL, DMRC and an expert from Delhi will see the designs and give its seal of approval,'' an official associated with KMRL said.

Design engineers of the IIA had split into five teams and worked on designs of three stations each.

Though majority of them had come up with houseboat design, each had its own unique features. Another prominent design was that of palm leaf.

Meanwhile, the Cusat station has been designed to look like waves. "Kochi is known as the Queen of Arabian Sea. That's why we have chosen the shape of waves,'' said one of the architects.

The Cusat station will also have provision for renting cycles and a library. "This is because students are expected to use the station most. 'Rent a cycle' will help passengers to reach their destinations from the Metro station. A similar facility is in place at the Vishwa Vidyalaya station in Delhi,'' said an architect associated with the designing of the Cusat station.

Also, KMRL has invited tenders for selecting a consultant for common smartcard ticketing solution for the Kochi Metro project.
Source - TOI

Caterpillar files protest over Illinois high-speed rail contract

Caterpillar Inc. has filed formal complaints regarding a decision by the state of Illinois to award a contract for locomotives for the state's high-speed rail project to its rivals.

The Illinois Department of Transportation awarded the $226 million contract to build up to 35 high-performance locomotives to a partnership of Siemens AG and Cummins Inc. late last year, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Caterpillar, which is based in Illinois, said in its complaint that it believes that IDOT "unfairly evaluated and scored offers and improperly relaxed the specified performance requirements" when awarding the contract, the Tribune reports.

Caterpillar filed a formal protest with IDOT in February, but the protest was denied. The company has now filed a complaint with the state's Procurement Policy Board and with the Chancery Court in Cook County.

Valleys rail electrification bill row between governments

Electrification is expected to cut journey times significantly

A major upgrade to the railways in south Wales has been thrown into doubt by a row between the Welsh and UK governments over who will pay for it.

First Minister Carwyn Jones claimed the UK government agreed it would fund the electrification of the London-Swansea main line and the Valleys lines.

But Welsh Secretary David Jones said that was not the agreed deal.

The UK government insisted ministers in Cardiff agreed to bear the cost of electrifying the Valleys lines.

The main line upgrade from London Paddington to Cardiff is due to be completed by 2017, and extended to Swansea by 2018 at a cost of £850m.

Electrification of the Valleys lines - the commuter lines in and out of Cardiff - is due to be completed between 2019 and 2024.

'Significant infrastructure'

BBC Wales has seen an exchange of letters between ministers on both sides setting out the terms of an agreement on electrification.
“Start Quote

We have not committed to pay. After all this is an area that isn't devolved”First Minister Carwyn Jones

Welsh Secretary David Jones said he was "extraordinarily concerned" and "shocked" by the first minister's comments on Monday, given that his administration reached a "deal" in the summer of 2012.

He was speaking after Carwyn Jones called for clarity from the UK government.

The commitment to electrify the railway had been repeated publicly many times by David Cameron, the first minister said, but he added he was "becoming increasingly concerned about drift".

"We have made our position clear that we are willing to work with the UK government on this, but we do need to make sure that the commitments that have been given on many occasions in public by the prime minister are now adhered to," Carwyn Jones said.

He said the responsibility for upgrading the lines lay with the UK government.

"We have not committed to pay. After all this is an area that isn't devolved," he added.

In an interview with BBC Wales in October 2013, Mr Cameron said: "It's this government that's putting the money into the electrification of the railway line all the way up to Swansea and, of course, the Valley lines."

However the Wales Office office points to an exchange of letters between then UK Transport Secretary Justine Greening and then Welsh Transport Minister Carl Sargeant.

In her letter on July 13 2012, Ms Greening hails "a deal which will be perhaps the most significant infrastructure announcement for Wales for many years".

Electrified services in the Valleys will be included in the Wales and Borders franchise, it says. The two governments are joint signatories of the franchise.

Her letter said there would be "a specific access charge on the franchise to repay the infrastructure investment by Network Rail".

In his reply Mr Sargeant confirms "our agreement as set out in your letter".

'Very worrying'
“Start Quote

This was a deal, and a deal is a deal, and we expect them to adhere to the deal”Welsh Secretary David Jones

Welsh Secretary David Jones told BBC Wales he was surprised at Carwyn Jones's comments.

"It's quite clear what the Welsh government was going to be doing through the Wales and Borders franchise and what HMG (Her Majesty's government) was doing," he said.

"I am absolutely amazed that he hasn't mentioned this correspondence. This evidences an agreement in the clearest possible terms.

"This was a deal, and a deal is a deal, and we expect them to adhere to the deal.

"That in my book is a contract. It couldn't possible be clearer.

"This is very, very worrying," David Jones added.

An outline business case for Valleys rail electrification - written by the Welsh government in 2012 - estimates the cost at between £309m and £463m.

Dispute erupts over Mexico’s railway concessions bill

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As Mexico’s antitrust bill arrives in Congress, a dispute has erupted over a rail bill that would alter the terms of the two main railway concessions.

The lower house has passed the rail legislation, which deals with the concessions held by subsidiaries of Grupo México, the mining company, and Kansas City Southern, transport group. The bill is now before the Senate.

The companies fear their rights and the rule of law risk being eroded, while legislators complain a lack of interconnection adds hundreds of miles and costly delays to freight journeys. In addition, while tariffs have increased as much as eight times in recent years, the network has not been expanded.

However, a study by Cidac, a think-tank, argued that the issue is not black and white. Though the study agreed that some changes were overdue, it also pointed out that it would be more effective to focus on the structure of tariffs than to change the way the railways are operated.

That, it warned, “would generate a series of economic inefficiencies affecting other sectors and the national economy”.

Mexico has no shortage of inefficiencies and has begun to tackle domestic vested interests.Indeed, a report by the OECD found Mexico’s rail privatisation in 1995 had led to a doubling of traffic and “we see no evidence of misuse of railway market power”.

However, shifting the terms partway through a concession “does not bode well” for investor sentiment as Mexico opens up its energy sector, said one former government official.

“Investors are less worried about violence and drugs trafficking than the rules changing as they go along,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the debate over the antitrust bill, which is aimed at stopping companies from achieving market dominance through illegal monopolistic practices, is raising its own concerns that it could actually lead to less, not more, competition in Mexico

Labour divided on High Speed rails plans for the North

Newcastle Council leader Nick Forbes has welcomed calls for work on the new line to be speeded up, but Newcastle East MP Nick Brown has hit out at the continued waste of resources
Coun Nick Forbes, leader Newcastle City Council

Divisions over the High Speed rail project are continuing in the North, despite moves to bring benefits to the region sooner.

Newcastle Council leader Nick Forbes has welcomed calls for work on the new line to be speeded up, but Newcastle East MP Nick Brown has hit out at the continued waste of resources.

Chancellor George Osborne yesterday backed proposals to bring forward by six years the planned extension to Crewe of the HS2 high-speed rail link between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

The changes, though, would not see any change to direct links to the North East, with high-speed trains being forced into a second-best option North of Leeds, travelling on the existing lines at slower speeds.

A report on speeding up the £50bn project has no mention of Newcastle, with Labour peer Lord Beecham last night saying “there is absolutely nothing in this for us.”

Mr Brown, a former regional minister, said there was nothing in the high-speed plans to help the region.

He told The Journal: “This doesn’t help the North East at all. Nor does it help Yorkshire. It would help more people and be a more genuine regional policy if the money was invested in the East Coast rail network, rather than the already adequate line between London and Birmingham, or for that matter Crewe.”

Newcastle East MP Nick Brown 

And Durham MP Kevan Jones said he was “at a loss to understand why politicians in the North East think this is a good thing.”

He added: “It will increasingly suck scarce resources from transport projects that are urgently needed in the North East and lead to the region simply becoming a branch line from Manchester and Leeds.”

Their opposition stood in contrast to support for the route from Labour leader Mr Forbes.

He said: “The Higgins report confirms that HS2 can bring significant benefits to the North. We can secure this more quickly, and with bigger impact, by planning the northern sections now.

“High Speed 2 can’t just be about connections to London. By joining up the northern cities, with complementary investments in our existing network, we will drive the rebalancing of the economy which our country so badly needs.”

Last night former Newcastle Council leader Lord Shipley said allowing work to start in the North as well as the South was a welcome move.

He added: “However, we need definite assurances that the new track will join the existing East Coast mainline south of York as soon as the new rolling stock is operating. The North East will benefit from High Speed 2 as long as the trains carry on up to Scotland, because it means existing stations can be used with all the connectivity that implies.”

HS2 Ltd chair Sir David Higgins said a new station at Crewe in Cheshire should be completed by 2027, six years ahead of schedule, and that phase 2 – taking the line north from Birmingham in a Y-shape to Manchester and Leeds could be finished by the end of 2030 – three years earlier than planned.

In response, Mr Osborne said: “Sir David’s proposals would see huge benefits delivered to the North six years sooner than planned through a new hub at Crewe, creating more growth and rebalancing the economy in line with our long-term economic plan.

“I welcome and support this, and that’s why we have asked HS2 Ltd to work up firm proposals for his recommendations. I also support the proposal for significant regeneration of Camden through a proper redevelopment of Euston station.”





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