SHARES in Scott Wilson Group plc began trading on the London Stock Exchange on March 15, following the placing of 43·1 million ordinary shares at 158p, raising £68·1m before expenses for the consultancy.Brokers Brewin Dolphin also placed 2·2million ordinary shares, raising £3·5m on behalf of selling shareholders.Scott Wilson had a market capitalisation of £112m on its admission to the stock market. Chairman Geoff French said ’we believe that the placing and admission will strengthen Scott Wilson’s balance sheet, thereby financing organic growth and facilitating further selective acquisitions.’
THE Union Switch & Signal Microlok Object Controller is a programmable microprocessor device used for vital or non-vital control and indication of lineside devices such as points, signals, or other equipment. The device was launched by US&S at the AusRail exhibition in Brisbane in November 2006 as a low cost vital/non-vital logic controller with variable inputs and outputs. It offers both ethernet and serial link communications port options and provides an integrated TCP/IP stack to allow compatibility with commercial communications products. The Object Controller has a number of potential applications including the monitoring and control of hand-thrown or powered points, intermediate signal vital logic and remote device monitoring, or movable bridge alignment and locking.The Object Controller has been designed to fit into a typical lineside location box, significantly reducing the amount of space required for its installation. Union Switch & Signal, Australia
MOVARES has reported consolidated operating revenue of k142m for 2006, slightly up on the 2005 figure of k140?8m. Pre-tax profit totalled k6?8m, up from k6?2m and demonstrating that new business is being found to replace the work on the Betuwe Route and HSL-Zuid which is now coming to an end. Last year was the first in which the majority of shares were owned by the employees, with more than half of the staff buying 76% of the shares. Known as Holland Railconsult until May 1 last year, the company has now begun to branch out from its traditional consulting role, taking on works as a subcontractor or consortium partner for projects including the provision of a third platform at Breda.n
AUSTRALIA: Premier of Victoria John Brumby announced on October 20 that the state is to refurbish more freight-only branch lines as part of an A$38·7m funding package to support the state’s rural economy.The state government has launched a programme of works to raise speed limits and boost operating efficiency on various 1 600 mm gauge lines identified in its recent review of the rural freight-only network, which was bought back from Pacific National in May 2007 (RG 5.07 p260). The latest tranche of money is destined for the Benalla – Oaklands, Quambatook – Manangatang, Charlton – Sealake, Warracknabeal – Hopetoun; and Ouyen – Murrayville lines, where work will start in early 2009, bringing the proportion of Victoria’s freight lines being upgraded to more than 70%.Federal Infrastructure Minister Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed in October that an A$72m upgrading of the 525 km Mildura line had passed the two-thirds point, with completion expected in the second half of 2009. The federal government is providing A$20m towards this project, with the state paying the rest. As well as renewing 40% of the sleepers on the route, the work includes the laying of a third rail at each level crossing to permit future conversion to 1 435 mm gauge. Although Pacific National had threatened earlier this year to end rural freight operations in Victoria, the company has now committed to continue running grain trains. Rival operators Genesee & Wyoming and El Zorro have also signed agreements to move export grain traffic.
USA: At a ceremony in Denver on February 17, President Barack Obama officially signed the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, a $787bn economic stimulus measure which provides nearly $50bn in direct funding for transport investment. The 1 100-page bill provides $8·4bn for transit, $1·3bn for Amtrak, $8·4bn for high speed passenger rail projects and $27bn for roads and bridges. The high level of spending for high speed rail was reportedly insisted upon by the President. The transit funding will be divided into two parts: $6·9bn to be allocated to public transport systems through the existing Federal Transit Administration formula programme and $1·5bn as discretionary grants for new projects and modernisation. An additional $150m has been targeted for rail and transit security grants. ‘This groundbreaking legislation will give people expanded travel options, while creating or supporting hundreds of thousands of American jobs’, commented the President of the American Public Transportation Association, William W Millar. ‘Passage of this legislation is a win-win for American workers who need jobs and for the millions of people who take public transportation and passenger rail.’ States, cities and transit agencies across the country have already applied to FTA for stimulus funding; there are no specific earmarks in the bill, which was widely opposed by congressional Republicans. The law requires that 50% of the money be expended on schemes that have been approved by the federal government and that can be started within 120 days. But even before the bill was passed by Congress, FTA and APTA were urging transit agencies to follow a series of pre-emptive steps to ensure that the transit funds could be spent quickly as specified in the legislation. FTA also offered its initial interpretations of various provisions of the bill as it advanced through the House and Senate. The agency noted that the stimulus means ‘…a doubling of FTA’s annual programme funding, but without the requirement for local match in most cases.’ FTA also anticipates establishing new categories of grants, and urged potential recipients to gather the necessary information to submit their applications without delay. To ease the process, FTA staff began writing broad draft language that applicants will be able to ‘cut and paste’ to fit most situations.
CANADA: The RaiLink Canada subsidiary of short line group RailAmerica Inc has signed an agreement to operate a section of Canadian Pacific ‘s Ottawa Valley Railway, which carries pulp, paper and related products.RaiLink Canada announced the termination of its lease of the OVRR in December 2009, but continued to operate 250 km between Sudbury, Mattawa and Temiscaming for an interim period. On October 4 it announced a new agreement to continue to operate this section for five years, with an option for an extension. ‘We are pleased to maintain this railroad as part of our portfolio and continue our relationship with CP under this new operating agreement’, said RailAmerica President & CEO John Giles. ‘The current operation remains an attractive enterprise for both us and CP.’
Tim Dugher, Chief Operating Officer of Angel Trains, will retire in March. His successor has been named as Commercial Director Kevin Tribley.
TUNISIA: National railway SNCFT has awarded Progress Rail Services a 165m dinar contract to supply 20 Electro-Motive Diesel GT42AC diesel locomotives which will primarily be used to haul phosphate trains in the hot, dry and sandy environment.The metre-gauge locomotives are to be manufactured at Progress Rail’s plant in Muncie, Indiana. The first 10 are scheduled to be delivered from the USA to Tunisia in September 2018, with the rest following in November of the same year. ‘For the past 10 years, we have delivered nearly all of the high horsepower diesel locomotives in North Africa and the Middle East’, said Billy Ainsworth, CEO of Progress Rail and Vice-President of the Rail Division at its parent company Caterpillar. ‘We have accomplished this by listening closely to our customers’ feedback on their regional requirements. After a highly competitive process, we were extremely pleased to be selected as the supplier of choice’. Ainsworth said the GT42AC offered ‘reliability, fuel economy, advanced technologies and digital capabilities’, which would ‘upgrade a previously aging railway fleet by transforming it into a powerful, modern fleet for today.’
AUSTRALIA: Bombardier Transportation has been awarded a A$146m contract to supply a further nine three-car VLocity diesel multiple-units to Transport for Victoria. Deliveries are scheduled for 2019, and will take the state’s VLocity fleet to 88 units.The 160 km/h DMUs will continue to be manufactured in Dandenong, and will have more than 69% local content. ‘These trains will provide an improved travel experience for passengers, and help address the mobility needs of a rapidly growing population’, said Andrew Dudgeon, Managing Director of Bombardier Transportation in Australia, on December 20. ‘This order demonstrates confidence in our VLocity vehicle platform which was designed, engineered and manufactured in Victoria, for Victorians.’The 2017-18 Victorian budget included A$311m for 39 vehicles, building on a previous order for 48.As part of the Victorian government’s A$18m Regional Rail Connectivity Project, Bombardier is installing onboard 4G equipment to enhance passenger connectivity across the V/Line regional train fleet.
The Urban Transport Group of transport authorities has written to the Office of Rail & Road expressing concern that changes to infrastructure charging regimes could shift industry costs onto regional services ‘that don’t create the majority of that burden in the first place and which are least able to bear it’, according to UTG’s lead board member on rail issues, Ben Still. ‘This in turn will make regional railway services look far more expensive than they actually are, generating public subsidy per trip figures that are misleading but which can be used to undermine the case for continuing to support and invest in regional rail services’, he said.The UFI Charitable Trust has awarded the National Skills Academy for Rail a grant to fund a project to encourage young unemployed adults to consider careers in digital rail. NSAR is to work with a specialist technology partner to develop Trax, a digital platform hosting videos exploring rail jobs which will be accessed via mobile devices and social media. The pilot is to focus on London and the southeast.The Office of Rail & Road has published its economic enforcement policy and penalties statement relating to rail services in Northern Ireland.Network Rail is reviewing its approach to managing its road vehicle fleet, and is seeking to understand options available in the market to ensure the best value over both the short-term and longer term. It is also seeking parties interested in the maintenance of road-rail vehicles. Expressions of interest should be submitted by January 12.The Office of Rail & Road has begun consultation on options for amending notification factors in Schedule 4 of franchised passenger track access contracts, aiming to improve Network Rail’s incentives to plan possessions in accordance with passenger needs. Responses are invited by February 12.Chiltern Railways is seeking volunteers to trial a smart phone ticketing system which would automatically determine journeys taken and then charge the best available rate at the end of the day. Participants must be iPhone users who travel from Oxford Parkway or Bicester Village to London Marylebone.Transport for London is to call tenders in February to select six companies which would be granted 12 months of sector-exclusive advertising rights across the Elizabeth Line. ‘As the Elizabeth Line will redefine London, we are also redefining our approach to commercial partnerships’, said Graeme Craig, Director for Commercial Development. ‘We are seeking six exclusive partners who will work with us to work with us to launch the line, transforming how we work with leading brands to engage one of the most valuable and diverse audiences in the world.’Sutton Council has approved Network Rail’s £2·5m proposal for new lifts and an underpass to provide step-free access at Carshalton station as part of the Department for Transport’s Access for All programme.‘We are committed to this vision and we intend to present further growth proposals to ORR in the near future’, said Grand Central Managing Director Richard McClean after the Office of Rail & Road rejected an application for access rights to run an early morning Wakefield – London King’s Cross service, a return journey leaving London at 21.50, and to be able to call at Peterborough. The application did not reach the required ratio on ORR’s ‘Not Primarily Abstractive’ revenue test.The Office of Rail & Road has published an update to its January 2017 financial framework consultation, outlining policy developments that have implications for Network Rail’s funding structure for CP6 and ORR’s route level approach to determining its revenue requirements. Comments are invited by January 18.On December 18 the House of Lords approved regulations for Transport for the North to become the first statutory sub-national transport body in England. A motion will be considered in the House of Commons on January 10, which, if approved, would enable statutory status to be enacted for the new financial year.From January 8 Greater Anglia is to close the ticket offices at Walton-on-the-Naze, Thorpe-le-Soken, Alresford, Great Bentley, Dovercourt, Harwich International and Great Chesterford. The TOC said sales at the stations ‘fall well below minimum sales thresholds set by the Department for Transport to consider an application to alter the statutory opening hours’, and no jobs would be lost as staff will be deployed as mobile ‘welcome hosts’ or to other ticket offices.London Overground launched Night Overground services on December 15. A 24 h service operates between Dalston Junction and New Cross Gate on weekends.