Showing stories from October 2012

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Free-falling faster than sound

Posted Tuesday, 9 October, 2012 by bevans in Other Transport News

If the wind blowing across the New Mexican desert drops, a 43-year-old Austrian will step out of a small silver capsule on Tuesday and attempt to make history.

If all goes to plan, Felix Baumgartner will jump from the largest helium-filled balloon ever built for manned flight and hurtle towards the earth from near the edge of space, 37 kilometres up. As he reaches a speed of 1110km/h he will deploy his parachute, becoming the first man to break the sound barrier in free fall.

If it goes wrong -- as Jonathan Clark, medical director on the Red Bull Stratos team, which has spent five years and undisclosed millions preparing the stunt, says cheerfully -- "his skin will boil".

Shock at rail fee hike

Posted Tuesday, 9 October, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

A BUNDABERG pensioner was shocked to learn he will now pay double the cost to use his rail travel entitlements after the booking fees were increased from November 1.

Max Grove recently booked return fares to Brisbane for himself and his wife and was astonished to find that the return cost for travel on November 8 was double the cost, due to changes in the latest State Government budget.

Electing to travel business class and use two travel entitlements for each one-way trip, the trip back will now cost the couple $100 instead of $50 just to book.

Rail fail tale

Posted Tuesday, 9 October, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

ALTONA loop and Werribee line commuters have rated their train service as the worst on Melbourne’s rail network, according to a new report.

Western region Greens MP Colleen Hartland obtained the quarterly monitoring report on public transport customer satisfaction for 19 of the city’s rail segments operated by Metro.

LNP cashes in on rail assets backflip

Posted Tuesday, 9 October, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

THE Newman government yesterday sold just over half its holding in QR National for a share price 35 per cent more than its Labor predecessor secured when it privatised the company two years ago.

The Liberal National Party opposed the privatisation but at the weekend it did a deal that will deliver it $1.5 billion to sell down its share from 33 per cent to 16 per cent. Under the terms of the privatisation, the government stake in QR National was unable to be sold until its results were announced to the stock exchange in late August. Since then the company's share price has been about $3.40-$3.60, well up from the $2.55 when it was privatised in November 2010.

PM pours cold water on high speed rail link hopes

Posted Tuesday, 9 October, 2012 by bevans in Rail News

The Prime Minister Julia Gillard says a very fast rail link for Canberra is "some time away" from even being viable.

Ms Gillard told a breakfast event in Canberra this morning that the long-mooted high speed rail system linking Australia's east coast capitals would cost a "lot of money" and that the population density did not exist at present to support the project.

Study on high-speed rail link 'to begin this year'

Posted Tuesday, 9 October, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

A study examining the potential of running 250mph trains to the north of England and Scotland will be completed early in 2013, though Scottish Government officials said they were unaware of it.

The announcement follows a torrid week at the Department for Transport, which was forced to abandon the award of a £13 billion contract to run West Coast passenger trains between Scotland and London to First Group last Wednesday following a legal challenge by Virgin Trains.

First, which had £244 million wiped off its share value, is considering whether to sue the UK Government.

Study shows high speed rail from Canberra to Sydney CBD can relieve Syd airport

Posted Tuesday, 9 October, 2012 by bevans in Rail News

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) welcomes the findings released today in the Canberra Airport study The Impact of a Second Sydney Airport Not Being Built which confirms the ability for a high speed rail link to alleviate the need for a second Sydney Airport.

Building on the fact that Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport will reach capacity in 2027, needing alternative options by 2030 at the very latest, the study details the benefits that a Canberra Airport - Sydney CBD high speed rail link could provide.

Hear rail plea

Posted Tuesday, 9 October, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

MARIBYRNONG City Council has branded the State Government’s draft Passenger Rail Infrastructure Noise Policy good, but not good enough.

In a response to the government’s noise policy, the council fears many of the community’s concerns about increasing passenger and freight rail noise from the Regional Rail Link are falling on deaf ears.

Rail line sold to Union Pacific by state

Posted Tuesday, 9 October, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

OKLAHOMA CITY - Union Pacific Railroad has acquired ownership a rail line that slices across Oklahoma from Kansas to Texas 30 years after state officials preserved the route by buying it from a bankrupt railroad.

During Monday's state Transportation Commission meeting, Union Pacific and state officials signed documents that transfer 351 miles of rail line - most of which runs parallel to U.S. 81 - to the Omaha, Neb.-based company.

Tony Love, assistant vice president of real estate for Union Pacific, praised state officials for "having the foresight to preserve these lines."

V/Line chief quits as passenger figures boom

Posted Wednesday, 10 October, 2012 by Apocalyptical in Victorian Rail News

THE chief executive of V/Line resigned yesterday, hours before the regional rail operator tabled its annual report, which confirmed 2011-12 was a record year for passenger numbers.

In total, 15.55 million people travelled on V/Line's rail and coach services - a 6.2 per cent increase on the previous financial year, and more than double the passenger numbers of 2004-05.

No high speed rail link: Qantas

Posted Wednesday, 10 October, 2012 by bevans in Rail News

Qantas boss Alan Joyce has dismissed the idea of a high speed rail link between Sydney and Canberra, saying a second Sydney airport is the only way to meet the growing demand.

However Mr Joyce says Canberra might be a viable origin point for international flights to Asia in the future.

"There's no point building fast train links to places like Canberra and assuming that will fix the problem," he said.

Exclusive: Minister - 'We will fast-track HS2 high speed rail'

Posted Wednesday, 10 October, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

The Government will defy "grief and hassle" from its own backbenchers and fast-track plans for a new high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham, the Transport Secretary has toldThe Independent.

Patrick McLoughlin dismissed suggestions that the Department for Transport's financial modelling errors behind last week's West Coast Main Line debacle would undermine High Speed Two. The project had the unequivocal backing of both David Cameron and the Chancellor, George Osborne, he added.

British rail at your service

Posted Wednesday, 10 October, 2012 by bevans in Western Australian Rail News

The fixtures board above the Ealing Cricket Club ground in London reads ruefully: Saturday - raining; Sunday - more rain; weekend sponsor - the Gulf Stream.

Downpours of the kind expected in the tropics have deluged crops, flooded some homes three times in the previous month and generally threatened to cast a pall over the eagerly anticipated London Olympics.

More immediately, it has brought chaos to the roads. The M4, one of the major arteries serving the west side of the British capital, is closed for three days for urgent repairs.

The resulting traffic snarls are stark evidence of the benefits of rail travel in the UK and the prospect of heading off around England using my Britrail pass is beginning to look like the right decision.

In previous visits to family and friends across the country, I have hired a car and whizzed on and off the motorway network. As users of the Mitchell and Kwinana freeways can vouch, these are superb when they are not congested. When there is an accident, roadworks or even peak hour, it's like driving through treacle.

Australia helps to rebuild Cambodian rail system

Posted Wednesday, 10 October, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

TONY EASTLEY: Today is World Homelessness Day so our focus is not just Australian.

In the post Pol Pot Khmer Rouge years the broken and rusting train wrecks in Cambodia were emblematic of the country itself. 

Through international aid, much of it from Australia, Cambodia's rail system is being rebuilt.

AusAID will step in to finish tracks, build a port link and a bridge in an effort to get the trains running again.

Statoil Delivers First Rail Load of Bakken Crude to Saint John

Posted Wednesday, 10 October, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

Statoil ASA (STL) has leased 1,000 railcars for use in the Bakken formation in North Dakota and plans to deliver by rail to refineries on both coasts.

The Oslo-based energy company recently delivered a rail shipment of Bakken crude to Irving Oil Corp.’s Saint John refinery in New Brunswick, Bill Maloney, Statoil’s executive vice president for development and production in North America, said in an interview in Houston. The 298,800-barrel-a-day plant is Canada’s largest.

Connecting 'key' to buses, trains

Posted Wednesday, 10 October, 2012 by railblogger in Other Transport News

BUS services should improve when Metro trains are introduced in Sunbury, according to the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA).

The association, releasing its study into Melbourne public transport timetables, found that much of the town was still lagging in bus frequencies.

The study looked at routes which run frequently (every 15 minutes or better), and compared their peak times, off-peak (weekdays), weekend and evening services.

PTUA president Daniel Bowen said the general level of public transport services in Sunbury was "quite appalling".

Rail chaos in south-east

Posted Wednesday, 10 October, 2012 by bevans in Victorian Rail News

Peak-hour services remain suspended between Caulfield and Moorabbin on the Frankston line after two separate fatalities today

Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman Lauren Novak said the two elderly men were found dead on arrival.

The death of the first man, believed to be aged in his 80s, is not being treated as suspicious.

His body was found near Edithvale at 1.10pm.

Commuters confused : Routes thrown for Loop

Posted Wednesday, 10 October, 2012 by Speed in Victorian Rail News

A commuter group says that City Loop is a "confusing mess" and is calling for a review of train routes that pass through underground tunnels. Public Transport Users Association says train passengers are left stranded by a Loop that runs to different patterns and directions on weekdays and weekends, depending on the time.

It has prompted the PTUA to create its own diagrams of how trains run around the City Loop uploaded to today.

PTUA president Daniel Bowen said loop routes had "far too many variations". "The Loop is actually four separate rail tunnels, with trains running one way during the morning, most reversing direction during the afternoon and yet another pattern on weekends." Bowen said.

Albanese wants priority given to Maldon rail project

Posted Thursday, 11 October, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese says the Maldon to Dombarton rail line is a vital project for the Illawarra and should be assigned a higher priority by the NSW Government.

Mr Albanese says he's disappointed the recent NSW Infrastructure report lists the major project as low priority for the next 10 to 20 years.

New push for light rail bid

Posted Thursday, 11 October, 2012 by bevans in Tram and Light Rail News

A $100 MILLION passenger train could get commuters from Brighton to Hobart in 30 minutes and it wouldn't cost the State Government a cent to build, say proponents.

The Government has been urged to apply for federal funding for the Hobart Northern Suburbs Rail project, which would use the existing railway between Brighton and Hobart.

Former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown and Greens Federal Denison candidate Anna Reynolds yesterday fuelled debate on the proposal, which was first suggested in 2009.

Bromelton Park development moves ahead

Posted Thursday, 11 October, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

Scenic Rim Mayor John Brent says council has been given approval to finalise a development scheme for the Bromelton Park industrial park near Beaudesert.

It has been four years since the Queensland Government earmarked 1,800 hectares for the development.

Councillor Brent says a state development scheme for the area should soon be finalised but there is more to do before work can begin.

Miner considers reinstating Pirie iron ore plans

Posted Thursday, 11 October, 2012 by bevans in South Australian Rail News

Mining company WPG Resources says it will look at re-implementing plans for exporting iron ore through Port Pirie, given the latest results for its Giffen Well tenement, south of Coober Pedy.

The company says the site is estimated to have one of the highest grades of iron ore in Australia, with almost 700 million tonnes averaged to be about 31 per cent.

Concern raised about north coast Countrylink

Posted Thursday, 11 October, 2012 by bevans in New South Wales Rail News

Country Labor says north coast Countrylink services are at risk is the state government acts on an Infrastructure NSW report.

It points to ageing rolling stock and questions the wisdom of investing to replace it.

Among the options suggested in the report are privatisation and replacing trains with buses.

Port Macquarie Country Labor spokesman Jeff Condron said that would be a disaster for the region.

Railway deal with Thailand inked

Posted Thursday, 11 October, 2012 by bevans in International Rail News

BANGKOK — Transport minister Yuichiro Hata said Tuesday in Bangkok that he has signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in railroad services with the Thai government.

Speaking to reporters, Hata said he was told that Thailand wants to start a high-speed rail project sometime next year and he expressed his wish to extend as much cooperation as possible from Japan. 

Burke defends $6.9b coal terminal expansion

Posted Thursday, 11 October, 2012 by bevans in Queensland Rail News

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has moved to assure green groups the expansion of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal near Bowen in north Queensland will not cause environmental damage.

Greenpeace says documents gained under freedom of information identify a serious risk to the nearby Caley Valley Wetlands.

Mr Burke said yesterday the joint $6.9 billion GVK-Hancock Coal project, which includes a new mine, rail corridor and export terminal, would be subject to 60 strict conditions.

The project has now received all major state and federal approvals.

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