Railroad High Speed Rail

Copyright 2022 by Richard O. Aichele - email rottoa@gmail.com - and Inforworks.com

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Fast. Smooth. Comfortable. The High Speed Railroad trains are revitalizing the way people travel and conduct business while and making positive Green environmental impacts in Europe and Asia.

 

High Speed Rail (HSR) Revitalizing Passenger Train Travel

Infrastructure and Technology Investments Ensure Steady Progress

 

UK's High Speed 2 Program on Fast Track

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Creating a new generation of High Speed Rail service for the UK's North and Midland regions became a reality in December 2021. Alstom and Hitachi Rail announced the Hitachi-Alstom High Speed (HAH-S) 50/50 joint venture and signed contracts with High Speed Two (HS2) to design, build, and maintain the next generation of very High Speed Trains for the HS2 Phase 1. As part of the contract, it includes an initial 12-year train maintenance contract for the 54 high speed trains.

The new 200m-long, 8-car, 550 passenger trains built for Phase 1 of the project will operate between London and Birmingham and with the existing network it will dramatically increase capacity and connectivity between towns and cities across the country including Stoke, Crewe, Manchester, Liverpool, Carlisle, Motherwell and Glasgow.

Intended to become Europe's fastest operational train, the fleet's 100 percent electric based technologies employ state-of-the-art energy efficient traction technology and regenerative power. The aerodynamic design will achieve maximum operating speeds of 225mph (360 km/h. The design incorporates a new Low Noise Pantograph developed in Japan. According to Hitachi Rail, "Alstom and Hitachi's high speed train platform utilises unprecedented levels of smart digital technology. The in-built digital system includes state of art innovative sensors that enable potential faults to be identified and ensuring reliable and seamless passengers' journeys. Passengers will be able to access seamless, high capacity wireless internet, digital seat reservations and richer travel information delivered through multiple channels, with the trains future-proofed to accommodate technological advances. Train designers will work with world renowned inclusive design experts to put empathy at the heart of the design, meeting the needs of passengers of all ages and abilities."

The economic and environmental benefits benefits of HS2 are both immediate and long term. The UK based equipment manufacturing of the 54 trains will utilize Hitachi Rail's new advanced welding facility in Newton Aycliffe, at a new production line at Alstom's factory in Derby and by a new bogie manufacturing facility at Alstom Crewe and a new maintenance facility at Washwood Heath near Birmingham as part of the project's goal to "a boost to grow and rebalance the economy, The award to the British-based firms will protect and create thousands of green jobs and add to the UK economy for every year of the train building phase." Long term environmental benefits expected are "a major impact in reducing carbon emissions from transport by encouraging people away from fossil fuelled cars and planes, and onto rail."

 

Revival of Europe's Night Trains

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"Getting on a train in Munich or Berlin in the evening and arriving in Paris or Brussels in the morning after a relaxed journey with our Trans-Europ-Express TEE 2.0 and attractive night train services we will be travelling in ways that are even better for our climate and the environment in Europe in the future" said Andreas Scheuer, Germany's Transport Minister. That pleasant experience once repeated thousands of times every night on European trains had been vanishing. They occured aboard Intercity Overnight Sleeper Trains. Recent changing travel trends suggest a revival. The OBB Austrian Railways NightJet is leading that revival of that European Railroad tradition. For comfort and ecological reasons, many intercity travelers are now increasingly taking the trains instead of flying.

The approximate twenty year ridership decline of the overnight rail intercity service occurred as travellers for busines and pleasure shifted to airlines. That eras low ticket prices and speed of intercity air travel captured the market. Air travel's disadvantages including cramped uncomfortable seating, time spent between the city centers and the airports and time spent meeting security requirements were tolerated The negative environmental impact of air travel was similarly ignored by air travellers.

Factors such as environmental concerns, improvements in secondary rail systems and renewed interest in personal travel comfort allowed High Speed Rail to recaptured market significant share. It simply provided a fast, reliable, frequent, comtable and environmentally Green option. Governments and railroads believed the endangered Night Sleeper Trains services could be revived with new equipment and increasing the number of cities served. Recent ridership statistics although affected by the covid-19 pandemic showed increased public interest in overnight intercity sleeper trains.

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OBB, Austria's Railways, created Nightjet in 2016 as the operating successor to night sleeper trains services that had been operated by OBB and Deutsche Bahn. Ridership had been decreasing and the age of the sleeping cars was negatively affecting onboard services. Under the new Nightjet program, ridership in 2017 was 1.4 million passengers and that increased to 1.6 million passengers within a year. Sleeping cars including those from Deutsche Bahn were upgraded and had 160 additional cars in 2020. OBB has ordered 33 new seven-car trainsets from Siemens Mobile to allow for the expansion of new routes.

According to Siemens Mobile, "In August 2018, OBB had signed a framework deal with Siemens Mobility for the supply of 13 seven-car trains for night sleeper operations and eight nine-car trains for operations during the day. Some of the new passenger coaches will be used for Nightjet operations. The upgraded trains will include two seating carriages, two sleeper carriages, and three couchette carriages. Viaggio coaches to be supplied by Siemens offer features such as LED interior lighting and air conditioning. The newly designed coaches will also ensure the supply of fresh air based on the amount of carbon dioxide in the interior air. OBB will operate the new coaches with its existing Siemens-built Taurus locomotives. OBB contracted PriestmanGoode to work on interior designs for its Nightjet and Intercity day train services." The new Nightjet fleet is expected to become operational in 2022.

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New Siemens Mobile cars.

Leonore Gewessler, Austria's Minister of Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology said: "Night trains are the future of climate-friendly mobility within Europe. It is our joint responsibility to ensure good services for the people of Europe. To ensure this is done sustainably we must shape the framework conditions for European night train services well for the future. I'm pleased about this joint avowal across Europe."

nightjet An agreement was reached between OBB (Austrian Federal Railways), Deutsche Bahn, SNCF, and SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) to work together with the goal of expanding the network of international Nightjet passenger night trains in Europe.

Starting in 2021, plans call for four new Nightjet routes reaching 13 cities beginning with Vienna, Munich and Paris and Zurich, Cologne and Amsterdam. In December 2023, Vienna, Berlin, Brussels and Barcelona will begin. In December 2024, Nightjet service on the Zurich and Barcelona route will begin.

The newspaper, Brussels Times reporting on Europe's revival of the night train wrote: "Sweden has also decided to invest more in night trains, and is preparing the direct daily routes between Stockholm and Hamburg, Malmo and Brussels connections by summer 2022. The Malmo and Brussels trip would take eight hours, and the plan is to make the connection every night... Policymakers throughout Europe are paying attention to market demands New Mobility reports. In France, President Emmanuel Macron announced July 2020 that he intends to "massively redevelop" night trains, as well as rail cargo transport and short lines."

Open access operator RegioJet has also announced its plan of expanding its night train connections in 2021. RegioJet currently operates night trains connecting Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Croatia and says it will add Poland and Ukraine to its list in 2021, with other EU countries to follow.

Various favorable factors are moving the revitalization of night sleeper train travel forward. Christophe Fanichet, CEO of SNCF Voyageurs, noted two. Environmental and the age of travelers. "I think there is a real expectation. A young population that is paying attention to carbon and taking more time to travel."

 

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Germany's Ambitious Rail Objectives

The synergism of German railway innovative capacity, attractiveness, competitiveness enhanced with a 7.6 Billion EUR investment is expected to "double the number of rail passengers and shift more freight to the railways by 2030," according to Andreas Scheuer, Germany Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.

High Speed Rail's operational and financial success ultimately depends on associated infrastructure and supporting local and regional rail services. Scheuer explained: "A pivotal element for us is the introduction of regular interval services throughout Germany. The greatest innovation our rail transport has seen since the 1994 reform of the railways. In the future, passenger trains are to meet every 30 or 60 minutes at our main stations and proceed on their journey after short stops. Changing trains is to become easier, services will be more reliable and journey times will often be significantly reduced. The importance of shorter journey times can be seen on the new line from Berlin to Munich once it opened to offer reduced journey times to just four hours, passenger numbers were reaching record high figures pre-COVID-19. We hope to see a similar effect with the planned upgrades that will offer future travel from Bonn to Berlin in under four hours.

Also important to us is that rail customers experience the benefits of the regular interval services throughout Germany as soon as possible. We will not wait until 2030 and then implement the target timetable in one fell swoop, but rather adapt it in stages after every upgrade is complete."

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Deutsche Bahn Orders 320 km/h ICE 4 Train Sets

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The decision by Deutsche Bahn for the investment of one billion EUR for 30 new ICE 4 trains to be built by Siemens Mobility "marked a big step for a strong and environmentally friendly rail system," said Dr. Richard Lutz, CEO of Deutsche Bahn AG. The trains will initially run on routes between the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and Munich via the high-speed Cologne-Rhine-Main line. The new trains will increase DB daily passenger capacity on these mainline routes by 13,000 seats.

The new ICE 4 trains will have a top speed of 320km/h. According to Siemens Mobility, " A unique train concept has been developed, that can be individually adapted to the requirements of various transport tasks. The modular drive concept is based on independent Powercars with identical traction technology, resulting in more flexibility than ever before. High operational availability is guaranteed by a large number of reliable systems with high redundancy." Interior features include frequency-transparent windows for stable mobile phone reception for the 440 seats, more space for families and children and space for transporting bicycles.

The Siemens Mobility ICE 4 contract largest train contract in Siemens nearly 170 years of corporate history and will be the backbone of the Deutsche Bahn's future long-distance network. In total, DB will be receiving 1,511 cars with which it can configure 50 12-car, 50 13-car and 37 7-car trainsets. DB will keep two end cars in reserve. The 12-car and 13-car trainsets will be operated in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The shorter 7-car trains are planned for use in Germany and Austria. The new ICE 4 trains in service by 2026 will be manufactured at Siemens Mobility locations in North RhineWestphalia, Bavaria and Austria.

Looking forward to a return to more "normal" travel, the intention is that more will follow. Dr. Lutz explained, "Deutsche Bahn is investing in new trains at a record level. Our fleet will be getting state-of-the-art additions with the new ICE trains, and our passengers will benefit from more seats, greater comfort and higher speeds by the end of 2022. The entire Deutsche Bahn fleet will grow by 20 per cent over the coming years. Even though demand has sharply declined due to the coronavirus pandemic, everything speaks in favor of climate-friendly rail transport for the longer term. That is why we are committed to growth." he said.

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China's Rail Expansion Plans

A plan for further expansion of China's High Speed Rail pssenger train network is on the verge of being approved. At the same time, advances in locomotive technologies are expected to significantly raise the maximum operating speeds of the HSR trains. The CR450 program spefically has the design goals to dveelope locomotives, coaches and supporting infrastructure for 450 km/hour operations. The goal is to link residents of distant areas with centers of China's economic activity. Ridership of China's rail lines was reduced during the past year due to the health and economic conditions caused by the covid pandemic.

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