Sep 6, 2014

JR East to bid for high-speed railway project in California

An artist's rendering from February 2011 for the California High-Speed Rail Authority shows an envisioned high-speed rail station in San Jose, California. | BLOOMBERG
East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) plans to take part in international bidding this fall to supply railcars for a high-speed railway line planned in California, JR East sources said Friday.

The line would link San Francisco to Anaheim and cost around $67.6 billion (¥7.1 trillion) to build, with operations set to begin in 2028.

JR East intends to market its shinkansen technology. It plans to participate in the project in conjunction with six other Japanese companies including Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Hitachi Ltd. and Sumitomo Corp.

The companies are aiming to clinch a package contract that includes both train cars and track signals, the sources said.

Germany’s Siemens AG and Canada’s Bombardier Inc. are among the other competitors likely to bid for the project.

Since California is often hit by earthquakes, JR East will promote its track record on disaster recovery, playing up how quickly it restored rail service shortly after the massive offshore earthquake that rocked Tohoku in 2011, its trains’ high quake resistance and its fatality-free record over a half century, the sources said.

Among other railway projects overseas, Central Japan Railway Co., creator of the maglev, is considering bidding on a high-speed rail project in Texas.
Source..japan times

India And Australia Sign Civil Nuclear Deal

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during a photo opportunity ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on September 5, 2014. 

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott sealed a civil nuclear deal to sell uranium to India on Friday and also offered to increase supplies of conventional fuel to help it overcome chronic shortages.

"We signed a nuclear cooperation agreement because Australia trusts India to do the right thing in this area, as it has been doing in other areas," Abbott told reporters after he and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a safeguards pact to sell uranium for peaceful power generation.

"That is why we are happy to trust India with our uranium in months, years and decades."

The nuclear deal is a further step toward India achieving international acceptability for its nuclear programme despite not ratifying the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and follows similar agreements with the United States and France.

It will also help end lingering mistrust between the former British colonies, who share just A$15 billion in annual trade, a fraction of Australia's roughly A$150 billion trade with China.

Talks towards the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement began about two years ago after Australia lifted a long-standing ban on selling uranium to energy-starved India.

"Australia can play the role of a long-term reliable supplier of uranium to India," a brief description of the pact issued by the Indian foreign ministry said.

India faced sanctions after testing nuclear weapons in 1998, but the restrictions have eroded after a 2008 U.S. deal that recognized its growing economic weight as well as safeguards against diversion of civilian fuel for military purposes

India is the first customer to buy Australian uranium without being a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

The deal, which is criticized by environmentalists and nuclear campaigners, was welcomed by Australian uranium mining company Toro Energy.

Toro Energy has environmental approvals for a uranium project in Western Australia and is in initial talks with India companies for investment.

"This unlocks the opportunity for negotiations around new mines being opened up," said Toro Energy CEO Vanessa Guthrie, in India during Abbott's visit.

"We are seeking a long-term strategic partner that will take a 20-25 year view and in return will secure long-term supplies of uranium for counterparts in India," Guthrie told Reuters.


Coal Crisis

The leaders also agreed to work towards the "long-term, sustainable and reliable supply of Australian resources based on India’s energy needs" - including increasing sales of conventional fuels such as coal and natural gas to India.

Prior to a meeting with Abbott hosted by business chambers, one group said India should make use of Abbott's visit to seek more coal imports at a time when Indian thermal power stations are running critically short of the fuel.

With two-thirds of India's power stations fired by coal, and latest data showing that half of them down to a week's stock, tapping into Australia's coal reserves is a more pressing need than accessing uranium.

Nuclear power accounts for just 3 percent of output, down from 3.7 percent three years ago.

"While Coal India can be asked to step up its production, the growing needs make it imperative to go in for more imports ... and what better source than Australia whose top leadership is engaged with strategic relationship with India," Rana Kapoor, president of business chamber ASSOCHAM, said in a statement.

The Australian government in July approved a A$16.5 billion coal and rail project in the province of Queensland by Indian firm Adani Mining Pty Ltd, controlled by billionaire Gautam Adani.

However, nuclear power is key to future energy plans in India, where a quarter of the 1.2 billion population has little or no access to electricity, a situation Modi says he will tackle.

India operates 20 mostly small reactors at six sites with a capacity of 4,780 MW, or 2 percent of its total power capacity, according to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited. The government hopes to increase its nuclear capacity to 63,000 MW by 2032 by adding nearly 30 reactors at an estimated cost of $85 billion.

It currently has nuclear energy agreements with 11 countries and imports uranium from France, Russia and Kazakhstan

Source..business world

Rail workers set to decide between better pay and job security


"The most important stage": Sydney Trains chief executive Howard Collins. Photo: John Veage

What would you give up for a decent pay rise?

Thousands of rail workers across Sydney and NSW will be asking themselves that question over the next week as they vote on whether to give up one of the more generous and unusual conditions retained by public sector workers for an above-inflation pay deal.

In six months of negotiations, government representatives have insisted they will not allow two long-standing clauses to remain in the next workplace agreement signed with rail unions.

These clauses in effect, guarantee a rail worker a job for as long as they want it, provided they play by the rules and do not want to leave.

But if a majority of about 10,000 Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink workers vote "Yes" on their enterprise bargaining agreement ballot, sent to them this week, those clauses, which are now extremely rare in Australian industrial deals, will be scrapped.

In exchange, the state government has offered what it says is a generous pay deal.

Rail workers would get pay rises of 3 per cent this year (backdated to April), 3.1 per cent next year, and 3.2 per cent in 2016.

These increases are not substantially above inflation, but are well in excess of the government's wages policy – 2.5 per cent a year.

The deal includes another unusual cherry – those made redundant will be retained for a year to allow them to potentially retrain.

Sydney Trains chief executive Howard Collins, who has been touring work sites to drum up support for the EBA, described the current vote as "the most important stage" in the short life of Sydney Trains.

It is understood there remains considerable uncertainty about the deal among rank and file workers, although unions are not opposing it.

Mark Morey, an assistant secretary of Unions NSW, said: "We came to a belief at this point this is the best deal on the table that the government has put to us."

Mr Morey said unions were concerned a court battle over a separate United Firefighters wage agreement could rule as illegal EBAs that mandate state governments employ a particular number of workers.

"It's not a perfect deal by any means because people are being asked to give up conditions," he said.

"But having said that, in the context of where we are industrially … and the pay rise and the concessions we have been able to get out of the rail entities, we just felt we got to a stage where members should have a vote on whether to accept it."

Voting on the agreement remains open until September 19.
Source..smh

 

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