Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Latest from South Africa

South Africa has entered the modern age with a high speed line that will run about 50 miles and end up costing about $3.5 billion in American currency. This seems high, but includes all new right-or-way, stations, equipment, and design. Engineering News has several reports. Get your conversion charts and maps out.


R6-billion already spent on R25-billion Gautrain project


PARK STATION Excavation of the tunnel portal to the floor level is almost complete. When the floor of this excavation is reached, tunnelling work to Rosebank station will start.  The final vertical depth of the excavation will be nearly 25 m below the existing ground surface. It is currently at around 20 m


PARK STATION Excavation of the tunnel portal to the floor level is almost complete. When the floor of this excavation is reached, tunnelling work to Rosebank station will start. The final vertical depth of the excavation will be nearly 25 m below the existing ground surface. It is currently at around 20 m


Related articles

Almost R6bn spent on Gautrain so far

Construction on the R25-billion Gautrain rapid rail link has, to date, cost just under R6-billion.

Rapid-rail project largely on schedule, says project leader

The R25-billion Gautrain project is within budget and largely on schedule, says Gauteng government Gautrain project leader Jack van der Merwe


A behind-the-scenes peak at Gautrain project progress
Gauteng’s rapid-rail project may get three more stations
Gautrain road diversions delayed

Six-billion rands of the Gautrain rapid-rail link’s R25-billion budget has been spent, says Gautrain man- agement agency CEO Jack van der Merwe.

This figure may seem high, especially as the system will only be fully operational in 2011, but this can be attributed to the initial procurement of machinery and materials, he notes.

By the end of April, spending on procurement from, and subcontracting to, empowerment firms had reached R246-million, with procurement from new empowerment firms totalling R48-million.

About R75-million had been spent on procurement from, and subcontracting to, small, medium-sized, and microenterprises, while the project had acquired South African materials, plant and equipment to the value of R79-million.

Construction started in September 2006.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail

European high speed rail conspirators meet

A press release on the latest from Europe. Of interest is the cooperation between rail and airline companies, and the fast expansion of transportation options between major cities.


Friday 27 July 2007 14:58 EEST Kauppalehti Onlin

STOCK EXCHANGE RELEASE             27.7.2007

Amadeus Finland Oy

Amadeus Rail Forum 2007 identifies need for strategic partnerships and
effective standardised distribution 

Madrid, Spain, 27 July, 2007: Over 60 rail, air and travel agency
industry experts from around Europe recently met for the first ever
Amadeus Rail Forum in Nice, France to discuss the rail industry and its
future needs. Strategic partnerships and effective standardised
distribution were identified through the discussions as being central
issues in the future of the rail industry. 

A discussion panel deliberated the impending deregulation and
liberalisation of the European Rail market. During the panel, Eric
Stokhuyzen, Director of Alliances, KLM, demonstrated the importance of
strategic partnerships with rail providers in order to take advantage of
the ever expanding network of high speed rail lines in Europe,
especially in large populated areas: it is predicted that 10,000 kms of
high-speed rail lines will open in Europe by 2020, (UIC, 2004). KLM have
invested in a partnership with HSA – the company that, together with the
Belgian railways,  will run the high-speed trains between Belgium and
the Netherlands – to offer seamless inter-modal transport (using a
combination of air and rail in one journey) to travellers. They will
provide a staggered schedule where both flight and train travel will
complement each other in terms of travel times, ability to book the two
modes of transport through one transaction and travel with one ticket as
well as integration with airline departure control. 

Steve Fosh, Head of Distribution, ATOC ltd, who represents 21 Train
Operating Companies in the UK outlined the importance of effective
distribution to capture the growing European rail market which is
expanding at an average rate of 3-5 % annually (Global Industry
Analysts, 2006). According to Fosh, UK Travel Management Companies
(TMCs) generate over GBP 400 million per annum in revenues through train
bookings. With the predicted continued high growth the UK rail market
over the next 10 years, distributors will need to increase and improve
their retailing capacity through the Internet, electronic payment
methods and automation to take advantage of this growth. 

Supporting the need for effective rail distribution was Gillian Gibson,
VP, Multinational Customer Group, Amadeus, who highlighted that
currently most TMCs have to use several rail booking platforms or
websites, usually one per rail provider, to satisfy customer demands.
Gibson stated that booking more than one railway is not productive for
TMCs because it is complicated in front, mid and back offices and since
the demand for rail is increasing, TMCs will need a single booking tool
to make efficient and accurate reservations. 

“We feel that the first Amadeus Rail Forum has been a great success,”
said Albert Pozo, Managing Director of Travel Services & Leisure.
“Holding an event such as this facilitates open discussions about the
future of the industry and the challenges that are faced. This enables
us to better understand our customers and the rail industry in
particular, so that we can provide the solutions that enable the success
in the growing European rail market.” 

Notes to the editors 

Amadeus is the chosen technology partner for providers, sellers, and
buyers of travel. The company provides distribution, IT and point-of-
sale solutions to help its customers adapt, grow and succeed in the fast
changing travel industry. Customer groups include travel providers
(airlines, hotels, car rental companies, railway companies, ferry lines,
cruise lines, insurance companies and tour operators), travel sellers
(travel agencies) and travel buyers (corporations and travellers).
Solutions are grouped in four solution categories – Distribution &
Content, Sales & e-Commerce, Business Management and Services &

Amadeus has central sites in Madrid (corporate headquarters &
marketing), Nice (development) and Erding (Operations – data processing
centre) and regional offices in Miami, Buenos Aires and Bangkok. At
market level, Amadeus maintains customer operations in 76 countries
covering more than 215 markets. 

The company is majority owned by WAM Acquisition, whose shareholders are
BC Partners, Cinven, Air France, Iberia and Lufthansa. Amadeus employs
over 7,600 employees worldwide, representing 95 nationalities. Amadeus’
revenue for the twelve months ended 31 December 2006 was EUR2.683m. 

More information about Amadeus is available at: 

Contact details 

Amadeus Media Relations
Corporate & Marketing Communication
tel : +34 91 582 7809
fax : +34 91 582 0188
e-mail : 

Amadeus Finland Oy

Filed under: International High Speed Rail

Wichita meeting on Heartland Flyer

One of my projects for this weekend is to get some more information from this week’s exploratory meeting in Wichita about extending the current Fort-Worth – Oklahoma City service into Kansas. If you were there, or if you know something about it, feel free to pitch in on the “comments” section.

The paper in Arkansas City (pronounced Ar-KAN-sas) carried some good coverage that gives a “feel” for how things went. The Amtrak guy said all he could say, in that the laws do not allow Amtrak to expand the national network on its’ own prerogative. The state highway department rep was among those in attendance.

A Kansas Department of Transportation official told the rail proponents they can be proud of themselves for calling the meeting and bringing in such a large crowd.

“We have a lot of needs across the state of Kansas and unfortunately not enough funds to support all plans (such as passenger rail),” said Chris Herrick, KDOT bureau chief, from Topeka.

Though transportation funds have been allocated through 2009, the state is looking at a long-range transportation plan. “This is a perfect opportunity to hear your plans and input,” Herrick said.

Herrick said Kansas is set to get input for a multimodal plan that is “flexible enough to take into consideration (any plan) resulting in economic development throughout the state.”

It is difficult to discern from over here in Arkansas whether the Kansas Department of Transportation has any real use for the rail alternative. Again, this is a good area of discussion for people closer to the matter.

Amtrak advocates for 100 people to come out on a week night, and some importatn public officials among them. It’s a decent beginning.

I am looking for other reports, so please send me links. Gotta’ have links.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Regional USA Passenger Rail

Europe’s high-speed trains: Less strain and at times faster than planes

The policy here is to find some sort of high speed rail news from somewhere on earth every day. It’s not hard. Today’s entry comes from the International Herald Tribune. It’s an informative read, so let me whet your appetite.

High-speed trains are often the fastest way to travel between city centers in Europe, beating short-haul flights for journeys of up to 550 kilometers. At speeds of up to 320 kilometers an hour, the train certainly takes the strain; compared to airports, high-speed train stations are stress-free citadels of peace.

Trains also score well on that shifting equation of comfort, convenience and cost. (On short-haul flights, flying time can be as little as 20 percent of total journey time.) What counts most with rail travel is the quality of uninterrupted time from the moment you board to the time you arrive: a train station’s 10-minute average check-in time for business travelers includes going through security. Take the laptop and do a pile of work in peace.

More good news. Any day now, the-cons who so fervently support the concept of high speed rail will start proposing funding for them.

But seriously, folks, transportation is becoming a serious quality of life issue. It is way too important to leave in the hands of a few airline and trucking interests.

Filed under: International High Speed Rail

Keep track of your congressman

You never know where they have been or what other kinds of mutts they might have been playing around with. Vigilance is the watch word.

This House vote report (a pdf. file) was passed along by a helpful friend. It is “how they voted” on each of the wicked amendments designed to kill Amtrak’s entire network of long distance trains. In most instances, as is the case in Little Rock, this would completely end the only rail passenger service. Understanding the law and the railroad business, it is fair to say that once a route is killed, it is difficult and costly to restore operating conditions to passenger train standards. Opponents to good ground transportation understand this reality very well.

Arkansas’ congressional delegation, for the most part voted well. Then there is John Boozman (R-Wal Mart) whose vote suggests he hates the homeless more than Amtrak. (Honest, check it out!)

Amtrak’s appropriation moves along to the Senate. This is not enough money to meet the requirements of the long distance corridors of middle America, which are in desperate need to new equipment and improved stations. It is a bare bones measure and entirely in appropriate for the greatest nation on earth.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics

Brits make substantial rail investment

The past few days have been a little busy, but I did not want to let this story escape my notice. Not everybody in the United Kingdom is pleased with the $20 billion commitment to improve the national rail system, but it is far more intelligent than the behavior of congressional Republicans in the U. S. House of Representatives.

Noteworthy in the British story is a continued lack of high speed service to Scotland. Well, what do those uppity Scots expect anyway? I wonder what The Proclaimers have to say (or sing) about this development?

The British experience is in no way comparable to the abominable deterioration of American passenger rail. Nonetheless, they have a long range plan. Isn’t that a concept?

Check out the Reuters report.

UPDATE 2-UK plans $20 bln for rail, high-speed line on hold

Tue Jul 24, 2007 6:53 PM BST138


(Adds quotes, detail)

By Pete Harrison

LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) – Britain has unveiled plans to spend more than 10 billion pounds ($20 billion) to expand rail capacity in the next seven years, providing 1,300 extra train carriages and an upgrade to London’s Thameslink line.

But an expansion of Britain’s high-speed rail network was put on hold by Tuesday’s 30-year rail plan.

More than 1 billion passengers a year use Britain’s railways, and the minister for transport, Ruth Kelly, told parliament the investment was needed to cope with an expected 20 percent increase in demand by 2014.

It’s only a daydream if it can’t be done, or nobody’s ever done it before.

How about a transportation policy that included the entire nation, even the “fly over” states? How about some environmentally and economically friendly choices? How about services that recognize the importance of rural areas?

Why should every aviation and highway project be an automatic “yes?”

Filed under: International High Speed Rail

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July 2007