INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1249 23 JANUARY 2016
BRANCH LINE NEWS
This newsletter covers the World outside the British Isles from information
supplied by members.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or of the Society.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS TEAM:-
International Editor (to whom all email and postal contributions should be sent):
Paul Griffin, 7 School Bell Mews, Church Lane, Stoneleigh, COVENTRY, CV8 3ZZ
Email: [email protected]
Deputy International Editor: Derek Woodward, 68 Church Street, Matlock, DERBY, DE4 3BY
Repair of the station at Uelzen (between Hamburg and Hannover) after WW2 meant the station lost its original
architectural style. In the mid-1990s, an improved renovation was conceptualized. The main focus was to change the
station to be "environmentally and culturally oriented". The first step of the redesign, completed in 1997, was to install
photovoltaic cells on the roof of the station. In December 1999 a project was developed for the worldwide Expo 2000
which involved the transformation of the building and the platforms following the plans of the Viennese architect
Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The new station was dedicated on 25 November 2000. Since then, it has become a tourist
attraction and welcomes over 450,000 visitors every year.
 Albania - A September visit to a decaying railway
At the end of September 2015 our member visited Albania, and spent the first three days in the country
travelling over the passenger rail network, before joining an organised cycling tour. The best source of
timetable information was from an unofficial website http://www.ec-tobias.de/service/kb_al.pdf, which
gives timings at most intermediate stations. It noted that, according to reports, the trains on the Vlorë line
were only operating as far as Fier. His flight arrived at Tiranë airport in the late evening, so he had booked
a room in advance at the Airport Hotel. In the morning he took a taxi to Durrës (€25) and spent a couple of
hours exploring the town on foot before arriving at the station in good time for the one train of the day to
Shkodër, which departs at 13:00. He was in time to see the departure of the 12:00 to Kashar (for Tiranë),
formed of two smartly refurbished coaches hauled by a similarly repainted locomotive T669-1041. His
single ticket to Shkodër cost just 160 Lek (about 85p) for a journey of almost 4 hours. The train was formed
of two unrefurbished former German (originally DR) suburban coaches, heavily graffitied and with most
windows cracked or broken. 20km out from Durrës is the junction station of Vorë, where a Kashar – Durrës
train was crossed, making a 3-minute advertised connection onto the Shkodër train. The train was
moderately well filled for most of the journey. The speed was glacially slow, with his GPS showing the
speed at around 35km/h for much of the time, although some stretches were covered at 50km/h. Shkodër,
104km from Durrës, was reached 10 minutes late at 16:55. It is an attractive town with a number of hotels,
and he had no difficulty in finding accommodation for the night. The next day there was a choice of
catching the train at 05:30, or rising at a more civilised hour, having breakfast and then taking a bus to
Tiranë. Buses do not run to a fixed timetable, but internet sources indicated that they ran about once an
hour. He opted for the later start, taking a bus which departed at 8:25 and arrived in Tiranë 2 hours later.
This is half the time it would have taken by train, but at double the fare!
Can this be Albania? A new, smart station, immaculate locomotive and refurbished stock are seen at Kashar on the
western outskirts of Tiranë.
The old railway station in Tiranë closed in 2013, and until a replacement (on a different site) has been built,
the Albanian capital is served by a new station at Kashar, 7km to the west, which opened in May 2015.
After an hour looking around the centre of Tiranë, he attempted to find a bus going to Kashar, but without
success. A taxi provided a solution, but the driver did not know where the station was, so our member had
to direct him with the help of Google Maps. It is situated down a side street in an industrial area, and is
poorly signposted. The station is very basic, consisting of a single platform with a small building housing
the ticket office. There are no other facilities, and very little in the way of shelter.
A ticket to Vlorë was requested, but the response suggested that the train was only going as far as Fier, so
he settled for that, at 205 Lek. A train of ÖBB freight vans was stabled on an adjacent line, indicating that
there is still some international freight traffic via the link with Montenegro. The refurbished loco and
coaches arrived, on the same working they had been observed on the previous day. These did not form his
13:15 departure to Durrës; instead, a 2-coach rake of the typical heavily-vandalised stock was propelled in
to the platform from a siding to the west. There was no sign of any connecting buses to or from Tiranë.
Passenger loading from Kashar was in single figures, but more boarded at Vorë. On the approach to
Durrës, the guard advised him to stay on the train for Fier. Sure enough, another locomotive backed onto
the train (Durrës is a terminus), and it departed again at 14:10.
While passing the depot at Shkozet, it came to a rapid stop, then after a few minutes began to propel back
towards Durrës station. After a further reversal it continued on a different track, and it seems the train had
been wrongly routed and had been heading back towards Vorë. There does not appear to be any working
signalling system anywhere in Albania, although a few unlit colour light signals at some of the major
stations provide a reminder of better times. At Rrogozhinë, the afternoon Librazhd to Durrës service was
passed, and a number of passengers from that train made the connection onto the Fier train. Arrival in Fier
was on time at 17:22.
Our member had previously checked that there were some hotels in Fier. There was a place just off the
north end of the station platform with a bar/hotel sign, but he chose to walk into the centre of the town
and got in at the more upmarket Hotel Fieri.
The third and final day began with the 06:39 from Fier, with the same loco and stock he had arrived on.
A single ticket to Librazhd cost 190 Lek. He took the train as far as the junction at Rrogozhinë, successfully
making the 3-minute connection onto the once-daily Durrës to Librazhd train. At Vidhas, shortly before the
large industrial town of Elbasan, a loaded coal train was waiting to depart westbound from colliery sidings.
The train arrived a few minutes early at Librazhd, and our member had successfully completed his
coverage of the current extent of passenger operations in Albania. Now he needed to get to Pogradec for
the start of his cycling holiday. The railway used to continue beyond Librazhd to Pogradec, but closed in
2012. He took a minibus, which followed the railway closely, and it was clear that there was no traffic on
this section, as minor rockfalls were blocking the line in a few places. The line is heavily engineered and
would have been the scenic highlight of Albanian Railways, as it climbs to about 1000m before dropping to
the shore of Lake Ohrid through a long tunnel. At the large intermediate town of Prrenjas, about a dozen
diesel locomotives are dumped out of use. A week later, returning from Vlorë to Tiranë by coach, he
noticed that the track between Vlorë and Fier was rusty and becoming overgrown, so would seem to be
without any traffic. The freight branch to Ballsh was crossed at a level crossing to the south of Fier, and the
track was heavily overgrown with dark rust on the rails, suggesting no use for at least a year. His overall
impression was of a rail system in terminal decline. Speeds and frequencies are hopelessly uncompetitive
compared with buses, and he would not be surprised to see further cutbacks in the future, unless a large
investment is made to improve services.
In 2008 a poster exhorting Albanians to take the train was photographed at Durrës station. The train used may look
familiar to British eyes.
 Belarus - Gauge changer installed at Brest
Belarus Railways has installed a Talgo automatic gauge-changer at Brest station, close to the Polish border,
and expects to obtain certification for it to be used by Talgo passenger trainsets during the first quarter of
2016. Installation required remodelling tracks and signalling and the installation of electrification
equipment. The project is being implemented jointly by Belarusian Railways and Russian Railways, which
has ordered three gauge-changing Talgo trainsets for use on Moscow – Minsk – Warszawa – Berlin
services. The wheels will be adjusted from 1520 to 1435 mm gauge as the trainsets move slowly through
the changer, eliminating the time-consuming need to jack up coaches and swap bogies. The Talgo trains
will be allowed 30 minutes for gauge changing and border formalities, compared to 2 hours at present.
 Croatia/Serbia - Cross border line reopens
The cross border line [Osijek] – Erdut - Bogojevo – [Sombor] reopened for passenger traffic 14 December
2015. The bridge over the Danube damaged in the Balkans conflict was repaired in 2006 and sees
occasional use for freight. The service operates Monday to Friday, with a Croatian train pair Osijek -
Bogojevo in the morning, and a Serbian train pair Sombor - Erdut in the afternoon. The last scheduled
passenger train before this ran 16 June 1991.
A PTG tour in 2012 was the first passenger train to cross the bridge from Erdut to Bogojevo since the Balkans war and the
station staff had laid on food and (strong) drink to celebrate the occasion. Little was left when the picture was taken.
 Denmark - Aarhus suburban line under conversion to light rail
The conversion of the Aarhus suburban line (Grenå - Aarhus H - Odder) is in progress. This means reduced
services at weekends until 26 August. From 27 August all trains will be replaced by buses until
implementation of the light rail system in 2017.
 Estonia – Correction to BLNI 1245.407
"Tucked away in the extreme south east corner of Estonia, Koidula station until 2011 was actually in
Russia". Your editor (who has been to Koidula and should have spotted this) apologises for missing this
mistake. Koidula station is in Estonia, originally only on the Valga to Pechory line. The junction of the Valga
and Tartu lines was at Pechory, which is a sizeable town in Russia. In 2011 a chord was built to connect the
Tartu to Pechory line with the Valga to Pechory line, so both lines had to pass through Koidula station
before crossing the border to Pechory.
 France – Threatened lines update
At a meeting with local leaders in Clermont Ferrand in December the Regional Director for Intercité
indicated that they are no longer prepared to sponsor the ‘Aubrac’ service which runs from Neussargues -
Béziers. They will maintain it until the end of January. If Auvergne TER are not prepared to take over the
service it will be transferred to road between Neussargues and and St Chély. (Languedoc-Rousillon still
runs trains as far north as St Chély. But the section under threat includes the Garabit viaduct). Adapted
from the SNCF Society newsletter. Better news with the announcement of the forthcoming temporary
closure between Guingamp and Carhaix for relaying, (the first since gauge conversion in 1966/7 it is
claimed), from 11 January until 1 April. Meanwhile L'Echo du Rail believes the Le Mont Dore branch (which
last saw a passenger train on 1 November 2015) will see no more. Finally, the line from Bayonne to St Jean
Pied de Port reopened throughout on 22 November.
 Germany – News from around the Länder
Baden-Württemberg - BLNI 1246.430 reported that due to problems with the Laufenmühle viaduct trains
on the Swabian Forest Railway would not be running to Welzheim in 2016. However, further safety checks
are expected to show that the viaduct is safe for lightweight trains such as draisines to traverse, so “trains”
may run to Welzheim this year.
Bayern – Due to construction of a new bridge over the River Aurach, east of Emskirchen (between
Nürnberg and Würzburg) a temporary diversion is in place between km 21.790 – km 23.544 until July 2016
Hessen - The Didier-Werke in Mainzlar transferred all their freight traffic to lorries from 31 December 2015
leaving the Lollar to Londorf line without any traffic.
Niedersachsen - Line 9144, Bremen to Thedinghausen is used for both freight and heritage operations.
The section between Bremen-Kirchhuchting and Leeste closed on 31 December 2015 to rail traffic for
conversion to a tram line to be operated by BSAG (Bremen) although the start date for the work is
Eisenbahnfreunde Leeste can only now operate heritage trains between Leeste and Thedinghausen.
Freight will continue to leave via the curve to the DB line from Bremen to Osnabrück at Kirchweyhe.
Nordrhein-Westfalen - On 6 December 2015 Bielefeld tram line 2 opened a 1.3km extension to
Also, mainly, in Nordrhein-Westfalen part of the Ibbenbüren to Gütersloh line has been sold. On 01
December 2015 the Teutoburger Wald Eisenbahn line between Versmold (actually just west of Versmold)
and Ibbenbüren plus the branch line to Hafen Saerbeck (total length 50.6 km) was sold to infrastructure
operators Lappwaldbahn-Gruppe. The new owners intend to completely reactivate the tracks for tourism
and freight transport.
Sachsen-Anhalt - From 13 December 2015 until November 2016 the entire east side of Halle Hbf is shut so
everything uses the west side. This gives lots of rare crossovers for dedicated microgricers. From next
December the process is reversed and everything will use the renovated east side whilst the west side is
rebuilt, so even more opportunities.
 Germany – More lines which have lost or gained services since new timetable
Lines which have lost passenger services
Potsdam to Seddin trains re-routed to Beelitz- Heilstätten
Line 6123, timetable 209.23, Lienewitz, Abzw. Lia, W 497 – Seddin, W 468, 2km CP 2 Dec 2015
Changes in East Berlin
Line 6085 Berlin-Blankenburg, W 44 – Abzw. Berlin- Karow Ost W3, 3km, CP 2 Dec 2015
Line 6080 Berlin Eichgestell – Abzw. Berlin Eichgestell Nord, 2km, CP 2 Dec 2015
New or re-opened lines
New Erfurt to Leipzig (Gröbers) /Halle high speed line
Line 5919 timetable 580, Erfurt-Linderbach – Abzw. Planena – Abzw. Gröbers Ost, 92km, OP 13 Dec 2015
Line 6394/580 FV/Halle-Ammendorf – Abzw. Planena, 4 km, OP13 Dec 2015
Potsdam to Seddin trains re-routed to Beelitz- Heilstätten
Line 6121, tt 209.23, Lienewitz, Abzw. Lia, W 496 – Beelitz- Heilstätten W 702, 2 km, OP 13 Dec 2015
The new lines in eastern Berlin
Line 6142, timetable 209.24, Berlin Grünauer Kreuz Ost – Berlin-Schöneweide - Berlin-Treptow Abzw.Vtw,
11km, OP 13 Dec 2015
Line 6164, timetable 209.24, Berlin-Treptow Abzw. Vtw – Berlin Treptower Park, 1km, OP 13 Dec 2015
Line 6170, timetable 209.24, Berlin Treptower Park – Berlin Ostkreuz – Berlin Ostkreuz Nord (Okn), 2 km,
OP 13 Dec 2015
Line 6139, timetable 209.24, Berlin Ostkreuz, Stw Okn, W 8 – Berlin- Lichtenberg B1, 1 km. OP 13 Dec 2015
Route taken by new HKX service Köln to Frankfurt and v.v.
Line 3525, Mainz-Mombach, W 602 – Abzw. Mainz Kaiserbrücke West, 2 km, OP 13 Dec 2015
Line 3525, Abzw. Mainz Kaiserbrücke Ost – Abzw.Kostheim, 7.6km , OP 13 Dec 2015
Reopening of cross border section for Dresden to Wrocław (Poland) services
Line 6211, timetable 230.5, Görlitz – Görlitz Grenze (– Zgorzelec/Görlitz-Moys), 1km, OP 13 Dec 2015
Reopening of Selb – Aš (Czech republic) railway
Line 5027, timetable 858, Selb, W 28 – Grenze D/CZ (– Aš), 7km, OA 13 Dec 2015
Reopening of Konstanz - Kreuzlingen Hafen (Switzerland) curve for five services to St. Gallen. See BLNI
Line 4000, timetable 720, Konstanz – Grenze D/CH (– Kreuzlingen Hafen), 1km, OP 13 Dec 2015
Lines 6198 and 6199, tt 225, Brieske – Hosena (temporary opening of 10km from 30 Jan – 24 Sep 2016
Dresden S-Bahn tracks re-opened - completely renewed over last few years
Line 6239?, timetable 241.1, S-Bahn-Gleis Dresden-Neustadt – Radebeul Ost, 7km, OP 20 Mar 2016
Overlap opportunities and short connections
At Halle some mainline trains are to use S-bahn tracks. Probably HEX trains i.e. Halle to Goslar
Halle Kanena/Leuchtturm (Fernbahn/S-Bahn)
Lutherstadt Wittenberg (Falkenberger Side -> Zahna; Bitterfelder Side -> Annaburg);
Sandersleben (nördl. Übg), northern end of station – see EGTRE obscure route DE16/203
New connecting track, probably Strausberg Nord S-Bahn branch
Strausberg – Hegermühle, OP 13 Dec 2015
 Italy – Milano Centrale now closed station
Milano Centrale is now a closed station, glass with sliding doors fitted for access to all platforms from the
concourse manned by FS staff, so you need a ticket to get anywhere near them. The validators are
nowhere near the barriers….so staff validate your ticket for you with hand-held ones in a classic case of
non-joined up thinking.
 Italy – Lanciano branch
The main line south of Pescara has changed somewhat since our member last travelled this way. It has
been diverted inland through a number of tunnels on the ca 25 km stretch to Casalbordino. The major
change has been the abandonment of the former Sangritana line to Lanciano and on to Castel di Sangro.
He remembers looking down about 200 ft from this line at the shell of the incomplete San Vito Lanciano
station. The tortuous 17.2 km from Marina San Vito to Lanciano old station has been replaced by a 9.2 km
relatively straight branch to the new Lanciano terminus. The catch is that the old station was at the same
height as the town, which lies up the hill to the west of the new station.
On the branch there is a loop and platform at Treglio station, which seems not to have opened. The new
Lanciano depot lies on a short branch off the old line, north of Lanciano. There is a connection between
the two lines, which is on a steeply graded concrete viaduct, although this fact isn't apparent on Google
maps. Lanciano is greatly over-provided, with 3 platforms. Track continues into a blind tunnel (as at the
Vatican), presumably a train's length beyond the crossovers at the south end. 'In Treno' table 453 shows
trains continuing to a 'Lanciano Centro' station with a journey time of 5 minutes, but this is fiction. Perhaps
there is a plan to extend the line, but he could not find anything when searching the internet. Such a
station would be nowhere the town centre. The only candidate he could can find was the 'Centro
Commerciale la Fontana' development, but if this is the plan one wonders why it wasn't built at the same
time as the rest of the line. Alternatively, he suspects it is actually the 'navetta' bus, which he saw leaving
for the town centre. The Sangritana company doesn't issue its own tickets, but uses Abruzzo regional
distance based tickets. One nasty little quirk is that the FS journey planner and the self-service ticket
machines handle journeys to and from Lanciano but when one comes to buy a ticket it produces a ticket
only to/from San Vito Lanciano. Fortunately our member had spotted this and didn't buy a useless ticket.
The bookstalls at Pescara Centrale sell Abruzzo tickets.
He believes the Lanciano branch has got as far as it is ever going to. The trains were quite well patronised,
but the service could be strengthened with advantage. There is talk of extending the Sangritana freight-
only Fossacesia - Saletti branch, further down the coast, inland to Archi and thus reconnecting the Castel di
Sangro line. However, this is considered very unlikely. The entire line to Castel di Sangro needs significant
refurbishment and although this was allegedly going to happen he doubts any work has been done.
 Lithuania/Belarus - Service suspended
Only introduced on 6 June 2015, the Vilnius (Lithuania) to Hrodna (Belarus) train pair running via Stasylos
was suspended from 8 November 2015. This is believed to be a temporary measure with the trains
returning in summer 2016. Currently there is no service south of the Vilnius airport station of Oro uostas.
 Lithuania - Kazlų Rūda to Marijampolė reopens
The closure of this section of railway for engineering works related to Rail Baltica ended on 13 December
2015 when the 1520 mm gauge line reopened with four train pairs daily. Passenger traffic on the new
standard gauge line should start in Spring 2016.
 Luxembourg – Bettembourg avoiding line not closing to passenger yet
The service which uses this curve (avoiding Bettembourg from the south) runs from Thionville (France) to
Esch sur Alzette and Rodange, and had been rumoured for withdrawal. However, trains are now shown as
running until at least 1 April 2016.
 Norway – Oslo area changes
Map at https://www.nsb.no/rutetider/rutetabell/_attachment/11307?_ts=151626c4af8
The new timetable Oslo area map shows that the services have re-started on the “Old” route between
Lysaker and Sandvika which had been closed for reconstruction for the last 15 months or so, served by L1
Lillestrom – Spikkestad all stations service. Notice also that with the exception of L22 with rush-hour
extension to Rakkestad, the Skøyen stoppers are now extended to serve Lysaker (which has had massive
passenger growth with the large office / housing and now retail development on the former airport site at
Fornebu), continuing on to Stabekk on the old route to Sandvika where a turn-back facility must have been
installed. The “Flytoget” Oslo Airport Express is also introducing an additional hourly service between
Gardermoen and Stabekk to increase their service to Lysaker to 4 trains / hour.
 Norway - Track-doubling project with deviation completed
First reported by a member passing by in BLNI1233.187, capacity on the southern section of the Eidsvoll -
Lillehammer - Trondheim Dovre Line was increased significantly on 1 December, when Norwegian
infrastructure manager Jernbaneverket completed construction of a new 17km double-track section
between Langset and Kleverud, which runs alongside Lake Mjøsa. The new line, which replaces a single-
track alignment dating from 1880, is designed for 200km/h operation, although trains are initially
restricted to 80km/h to bed in the track. The line is equipped with concrete sleepers, 60kg/m rails,
electronic interlockings, GSM-R, and a fibre-optic telecommunications network. The project included the
construction of 27 major structures including bridges, tunnels, and retaining walls. The former single track
alignment has been converted to a footpath. The real capacity benefits of the project will only be fully
realised when track-doubling is completed on adjoining stretches of this increasingly-congested route,
which links Oslo with central Norway. Double-track will be extended north from Kleverud to Tangen and
Hamar (47km) and south from Langset to Eidsvoll and Venjar (21km) by 2024. Track-doubling on the
Hamar - Lillehammer section is due to be completed by 2030.
 Poland – The Kamienna Góra funicular railway
The Kamienna Góra funicular railway in Gdynia is in fact an inclined single car lift that is simply wound up
over 96 horizontal metres and 40 vertical metres by a winch attached to a capsule capable of taking 8
seated and 12 crush load standing. It runs from the Plac Grundwaldzki about 10 minutes walk from Gdynia
Główna to the top of Kamienna Góra hill from whence views of the city and harbour can be taken. The lift
operates automatically 7 days a week from 10-20h and is free of charge.
 Romania – More lines reopen
CFR Călători have reopened two more of the lines closed in the aftermath of the RegioTrans problems.
Table 206 Şibot – Cugir from 13 November 2015 with 2 train pairs, and
Table 207 Simeria – Hunedoara, also from 13 November 2015, with 3 train pairs.
From 14 September 2015 trains also started running again on table 213 between Timişoara Nord and
Remetea Mică, but from the new timetable the full length of the line to Radna is now traversed by an IR
train pair. These are trains 12819 and 12820 from Timişoara Nord to Târgu Mureș and v.v.
There are reported to be plans to re-introduce a service on table 334 from Oradea to Cheresig. This service
ended 15 March 2015 (see BLNI 1238.421) but was predicted to resume 1 January 2016 with two train
pairs daily. A week later the service had not appeared on the private operator website, but if it does
appear a member in Oswaldtwistle will be doing handstands and booking his flight.
 Spain - Line likely to close soon
With the opening of the Zamora Gauge changer and the AV line to Zamora, and contingent upon
temporary arrangements being made at Medina AV, the Madrid - Zamora - Vigo/A Coruna trains will no
longer need to run via the Medina del Campo gauge changer, but can run via the new line and Medina AV
station. This means that the Olmedo to Medina del Campo line will presumably close very shortly.
REST OF THE WORLD
 Argentina - Buenos Aires Line H extended
On 18 December the extension of metro Line H from Corrientes to Las Heras was officially opened. This
latest extension to Line H currently serves one intermediate station at Córdoba. The station at Santa Fe
between Córdoba and Las Heras is due to open in April 2016, once work has been completed to provide
interchange with Pueyrredón station on Line D.
 Argentina - Las Heras line to be revived for freight
The isolated 285 km route running from Puerto Deseado to Las Heras in Santa Cruz province is to be
reopened for freight traffic. Disused since 1978, the route is being upgraded to move materials for state-
owned oil company YPF, from the deepwater port at Puerto Deseado to oil fields under development in
the north of Santa Cruz. Work will include drainage and embankment repairs, level crossing upgrades and
track renewals involving the replacement of 1800 sleepers. With work undertaken simultaneously from Las
Heras, Pico Truncado and Puerto Deseado, completion of the first phase should allow train operations to
commence within two months.
Separately, Minister of the Interior & Transport Florencio Randazzo has announced that tenders are to be
called to undertake track renewals on a 147 km section of the Mitre network in Buenos Aires province,
connecting Capilla del Señor with Pergamino. This would enable passenger services to return to this route.
 Australia - Route for Sydney’s Parramatta light rail decided
A preferred 22-kilometre route for the Parramatta light rail route in Sydney has been revealed.
The line will connect Westmead to Strathfield via Parramatta CBD, including stops in Camellia and at the
Sydney Olympic Park. The line will branch off to Carlingford and replace the current conventional rail link.
A Special Infrastructure Contribution levy will be imposed on developments along the route to help fund
the corridor and associated infrastructure. The NSW Government will contribute a further $1 billion and is
looking at other potential contributions. A final business case and assessment of the route will now be
 China - New high speed line opens along with largest underground station in Asia
The largest underground train station in Asia went into operation on 30 December 2015 in Shenzhen,
southern China, launching the high-speed rail service between Guangzhou and Hong Kong. The station at
Futian, located in downtown Shenzhen, in Guangdong province, occupies a total area of 147,000 square
metres, or 21 times the size of a football field. Travel between Guangzhou and Hong Kong normally takes
two hours via a regular train. The high speed train will reduce the travel time to half an hour. The people in
Shenzhen, adjacent to Hong Kong city, will be in Hong Kong in 15 minutes.
 Colombia - Trams take to Ayacucho light rail network – but are they really trams?
BLN 1243.388 reported on the new light rail network in Ayacucho. However, a member points out that
Translohr STE5 are the rubber wheeled "trams" with single guide rail, which is not perhaps what people
were expecting of a light rail system.
 Mexico/Guatemala - Cross border line reopening shortly
On 22 December an official ceremony took place at the international border prior to the reopening of the
1.3 km stretch of track between Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas, and Tecún Umán, Guatemala, which is expected
to take place early in 2016. Freight stopped in 2005 due to damage caused by Hurricane Stan.
 Mexico - Mexico City reopens metro line after repairs
Line 12 of the Mexico City metro is fully operational again after nearly two years of repairs to track which
resulted in the closure of 11 stations on the elevated section of the 20-station east-west line. The 24.5km
line, which connects Mixcoac with Tláhuac, opened on 30 October 2012, but the 11 stations were closed in
March 2014 following the discovery of serious track defects which nearly caused the derailment of a train.
The rehabilitation work carried out by the Ministry of Works and Services (SOBSE) was divided into two
phases. The first phase involved the replacement of ballast on straight sections and curves with a radius
exceeding 550m and the installation of nylon devices to reduce vibration. In the second phase curves with
a radius of less than 550m were rehabilitated, and all track elements were replaced in 16 curves. A 3.9km
extension to Line 12 is currently under construction from Mixcoac west to an interchange with Line 1 at
 New Zealand – Works starts on Auckland’s City Rail Link
A work site blessing has been carried out in the centre of Auckland to launch the start of preliminary work
on the City Rail Link (CRL). CRL will extend Auckland’s commuter rail network from Britomart through the
city centre to Mount Eden station, creating new city centre stations at Aotea Square and Karangahape
Road. Turning Britomart into a through station will significantly increase capacity and the frequency of
services across the network. CRL will also pave the way for future extensions to the North Shore and the
airport. The $2.5 billion project will involve the construction of a 3.4-kilometre twin-bore tunnel beneath
Auckland city centre. The main construction works are due to begin between 2017/18.
 USA - New rail line helps Amtrak trains bypass Detroit bottleneck
In the last week of December 2015 Michigan Department of Transportation crews completed construction
and testing of a new passenger-only rail line that allows Amtrak's Detroit Wolverine service to bypass the
busy West Detroit Junction. The $15.8 million West Detroit track project was designed to create a safer,
faster and more reliable route for passenger train service around Detroit. The grant was announced in
2012 as part of an effort to address a bottleneck of freight- and passenger-rail traffic in the Detroit area.
RAILTOURS AND DIVERSIONS OVER NON-PASSENGER LINES
This is provided as a service to members and details must be checked with the organisers.
Germany – Ruhr diversions
The burnt out signalbox at Mülheim-Styrum continues to cause operating problems and until 20 March the
following (mainly weekend) trains are diverted between Essen-Altenessen and Duisburg via Oberhausen
West Mathilde and Abzw. Sigle.
IC 1911 Dortmund – Stuttgart, Fri+Sun
IC 1913 Berlin Ostbf – Köln, Sun
IC 1917 Berlin Südkreuz – Karlsruhe, Sun
IC 1919 Berlin Ostbf – Köln, Sun
IC 1923 Berlin Südkreuz – Köln, Wed-Fri
IC 1925 Berlin Südkreuz – Köln, Fri+Sun
IC 2401 Hamburg-Altona – Köln, Fri
IC 2403 Hamburg-Altona – Aachen, Fri+Sun
IC 2403 on Sundays also avoids Köln Hbf using line 2614 from Köln-Nippes to Köln-Ehrenfeld.