INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1262 06 AUGUST 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
Wanted – volunteers to assist with BLNI. Specifically to trawl the web for information on railways of a
geographical area (South America, Africa, Australasia, India, ex Soviet Union, SE Asia etc) and write
items for BLNI, suggested minimum one per month. No previous experience needed, just some time
available and the ability to google and write clearly. Not North America please – that’s already covered.
Email Paul Griffin at [email protected] if interested.
The railway station at Tuzla in the northeast of Bosnia normally sees a train twice daily, but on one day in July there were no
less than three trains ready to depart. Our member was told that this was a unique event. On the left an RTC steam charter
is just departing, in the middle is the service train to Doboj and on the right is the PTG tour of Croatia and Bosnia.
Unfortunately the sun wasn’t well positioned so there is a lot of shadow.
 Austria – Feistritztalbahn back in operation
The 760 mm Weiz - Oberfeistritz line was closed at the end of 2014 owing to a damaged viaduct.
Oberfeistritz - Birkfeld is leased to club U44, which moved all its rolling stock to Birkfeld. Club U44 have
obviously been active since then as the track has been sold to them by Land Steiermark for a nominal €1
and they also received a grant of €235,000 towards the cost of repairs. Heritage railway services restarted
on 16 April. A posting on European Rail Gen had this to say. "The narrow gauge setup at Weiz is very
strange. At the old narrow gauge station just outside the standard gauge station front, there is an old
narrow gauge van, from which you can buy tickets, but the tracks here are clearly disused. You are then
told to cross the standard gauge by the footbridge and go to the depot to board the narrow gauge train.
This route is about 5 minutes long and has no signs. You then wander into the depot which is a scene of
railway dereliction with dumped standard and narrow gauge stock all over the place. It is still in active use
as a bus depot though. There is no platform, just several sidings through the weeds, and no run round
facilities, so when the train arrives it stops short of the points, the steam loco comes off and runs forward
into one siding to take water from a fire engine. A small diesel (number 1) is then used to haul the stock
into another siding where passengers board and alight. The steam loco then reattaches to the front. It all
takes a long time and the trains ran 10 – 15 minutes late. At Oberfeistritz, the Imerys Talc works no longer
uses the Feistritztalbahn. Several wagons are still there but the tracks are rusty. It is still using its aerial
ropeway though. The talc works was the last freight customer so the railway now only has tourist heritage
trains. At Anger there was a 10 minute stop while the loco took on water. On arrival at Birkfeld, most
people transferred to the waiting “tractor train” (and it literally was a tractor with a vaguely train outline
body shell over the top!) to take them up to the old town on the hill above. I walked part of the old railway
line towards Ratten which is now a very pleasant foot and cycle path, then went to have a brief look at
Birkfeld’s old town before the train back to Weiz."
 Bulgaria – Sofia metro extends
An extension of Sofia metro Line M2 was opened by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov on 20 July. The 1.3 km
underground alignment south from James Bourchier to Vitosha took two years to build. A third line is
under construction and due to open in 2019.
 Croatia - Gricing visit to Croatia with a bit of Serbia and Slovenia (part1)
(Osijek -) Erdut – Bogojevo. This Croatia to Serbia border crossing reopened to passengers in December
2015. On 9 June the 06:43 from Osijek to Bogojevo was quite full on departure, but most passengers
alighted at the first few stations and, after a slow run over poor track to the border station of Erdut, only
your reporter remained, although two people did join at this quiet wayside station for the border crossing.
After a brief passport check the train set off, crossing into Serbia by means of an impressive girder bridge
over the river Dunav. At Bogojevo things were much more formal, with both border and customs checks
carried out on the train before passengers were allowed off. The Serbian border guard was at first puzzled
then disappointed that your reporter was going straight back to Croatia, but once he’d been assured him
that this was not because of a dislike of his country, he was fine. Modern DMUs to Sombor and Novi Sad
were waiting to connect, so the station was quite busy with separate groups of passengers waiting to
board each train. Around 10 passengers took the journey back across the border and the train was again
quite busy by the time it arrived back at Osijek. It was noted that the line that branched off at Dalj towards
Vukovar, which lost its passenger service in 2012, showed no signs of recent use.
Vinkovci – Vukovar. A handful of passengers joined a former Swedish Railways single car DMU for the
early afternoon service on 8 June. Track was in very poor condition on the first part of branch as far as the
bridge over the river Vuka, but marginally improved after that. Most passengers alighted at Vukovar-
Borovo Naseije which was the town’s only station until 2008. The line to from here to Vukovar branches off
the Dalj line, still shiny at this end, and curves south to run by the river. This branch has the feel of a freight
only line and there is still traffic to the riverside docks and grain silos. At one point the train stopped to pick
up a member of staff, before running through some gates and into the yard area. The passenger line runs
alongside the yard and terminates at a small new platform alongside what looked like the goods station.
From here the line carries on round a curve and out of sight but there wasn’t time to explore.
DMU at Vukovar. The station is adjacent to docks on the Donau (Danube)
 France - M.T.V.S. Le Train à Vapeur de Beauvaisis
Good progress this spring at Crèvecoeur-le-Grand. The new line is now laid for 1.6 km from the terminus to
the D149. It is ballasted and usable by works trains. The next stage is to lay the track across the road
and authorisation has been obtained. The job has to be performed by a specialist company and the cost is
25,000 euros. The construction of the level crossing is planned for August 2016.
Once the level crossing is laid, a further stretch of 1.3 km will be cleared and converted to metre gauge
track. This will bring the line to the village of Rotangy, 3 km from the terminus. The level crossing is
essential to be able to proceed with the work (transport by rail of new sleepers, ballast, tools, and
mechanised machinery). If all goes well, the new line could be opened to the public in May 2017. Item
courtesy of the SNCF Society.
 France – Paris Bercy to be renamed
The argument as to what Paris Bercy should be renamed to has been resolved in true French compromise
fashion. The station, which is effectively an annexe to Gare de Lyon, serves both the Auvergne and
Bourgogne regions. The station will soon be called Gare de Paris Bercy - Bourgogne – Pays d’Auvergne.
 France – New velorail in Sud Ardèche
The velorail du Sud Ardèche formally opened on 6 July 2016 and is on the former Alès to Le Teil railway,
west of Montélimar in Rhône-Alpes. There was a train touristique de l'Ardèche méridionale which ran from
1992-2012 between Saint-Jean-le-Centenier and Vogüé. Velorails run on 5.2km of track between St-Jean-
le-Centenier and St Pons (near the old Aubignas Alba station). Location 07 on the map at
 Germany - A batty situation resolved (maybe)
The heritage line from Weizen to Blumberg-Zollhaus is known as the Sauschwänzlebahn, which translates
as pigtail railway, on account of the extraordinarily convoluted nature of its middle section, which also has
six tunnels. The tunnels are used as winter hibernating quarters by the extremely endangered Barbastelle
bat, which resulted in trains being banned from the tunnels from November to March. In July the ban was
overturned as unlawful by a court, opening the way to winter operation of the railway in 2016/17.
 Germany – Bridge to be repaired on Zeitz - Meuselwitz – Altenburg line
The Deutsche Regionaleisenbahn GmbH (DRE) has announced that the bridge over the Weißen Elster
between Zeitz and Tröglitz damaged by flooding in 2013 is to be rehabilitated between September 2016
and July 2017. Meanwhile freight from the industrial park Zeitz/Tröglitz will continue to be diverted via
 Germany – Group working to reopen Halle Nietleben to Halle Dölau
Freunde der Halle-Hettstedter-Eisenbahn e. V. have cleared and replaced sleepers and rails on a 1.3km
section between Halle Heidebahnhof and Halle Dölau. The aim is to restore the Halle Dölau to Halle
Nietleben section by sometime in 2018. Over time they hope to restore other parts of the Halle to
Hettstedt railway as well.
 Germany - Halle station reconstruction to take longer than expected
The reconstruction of the east side of Halle station has been extended for a year until December 2017.
Reconstruction of the west side will now also take two years and run from December 2017 to December
2019. The reason is that the condition of many structures, especially the foundations, is much poorer than
 Germany - Lines survive threat in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
BLNI 1260.263 reported that two lines appeared to be under threat in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
Pritzwalk to Putlitz closed 29 July 2016, but the existing operator has been given a two year contract for
Pritzwalk – Meyenburg, as well as Neustadt (Dosse) – Pritzwalk, which will end in December 2018.
 Germany - Thalheim to Aue to close
DB Regio have been awarded a three and a half year contract to operate services Chemnitz – Annaberg-
Buchholz – Cranzahl, Chemnitz – Olbernhau Grünthal and Zwickau – Aue – Johanngeorgenstadt from
December 2017 to June 2021. As expected, the contract does not include Chemnitz to Aue. Chemnitz to
Thalheim will be replaced by City Bahn Chemnitz operated tram-trains from 2018. The section between
Thalheim (km27.3) and Aue (km50.8) will close, probably from December 2017.
 Italy - Italian timetable changes of gricing interest
On Sicily the line from Palermo to Piraineto did not re-open on 1 July as scheduled. BLNI1232.175 reported
that this section of line was being doubled with 7km in tunnel, so the works are obviously not complete.
The timetable shows buses until 3 September, but no service thereafter.
Main features of the Sardinian narrow gauge this summer: No trains between Seui and Árbatax. There is
one round trip Tuesdays-excepted from Mándas to Seui. No trains between Láconi and Sorgono. There are
two round trips between Mándas and Láconi on Sundays. A train runs from Sassari to Palàu Marina and
back on Thursdays, this being the first opportunity to do a round trip in one day for several years. There
are various workings between Tempio and Palàu Marina Tuesdays to Saturdays. No changes on the Bosa
The Trenitalia timetable indicates that there will be hardly any trains between Alássio and Ventimiglia from
Wednesday 2 November 2016. Presumably, this is in connection with commissioning the new line.
The only local trains shown are two early morning round trips from Ventimiglia to Imperia Oneglia (one on
Saturday, none on Sunday). Curiously, two eastbound EC trains are shown, but none westbound.
Presumably, an error, but if the two eastbound trains should not have been included, that means 1
November is the last day of trains between Alássio and Imperia Oneglia. See BLNI1256.190.
Until 18 September, train R2895 Ravenna to Genova Brignole departs Ronco Scrivia at 09:35 and is
scheduled to use the local line to fast line connection Bivio Rivarolo to Bivio Bersaglio. The only previous
instance of passenger use of this line that our member is aware of was when one IC was scheduled this
way in the winter 2010/11 timetable.
It seems that efforts to run a regular service from Gallipoli Porto this summer have foundered. Apparently
Rotaie di Puglia thought they could run trains from Gallipoli to Otranto every Tuesday afternoon 19 July to
30 August, but at short notice FSE was unable to provide staff. The train ran only on 5 August last year, but
was very popular.
The Gallipoli – Casarano service has been totally bus substituted since 1 July until further notice. This may
be the first consequence of the collapse of Ferrovie Sud Est.
The long branch line from Trento to Mezzocorona, Malé and Marilleva has been extended one kilometre
to a new station at Mezzana. The inauguration took place on 23 July. So for those how have done the line
previously – you’ll have to go and do it again. Is there anything more annoying?
 Italy – Part of Avellino to Rochetta line to reopen for tourist trains
The line from Avellino to Rocchetta Sant'Antonio was 118.72 km long and ran through some very empty
and desolate countryside, so it was not surprising when it closed on 12 December 2010. Along the route
there are 31 stations, 58 viaducts, 19 metal bridges and a number of tunnels all considered to be ‘artifacts
of exquisite workmanship and architectural and engineering expertise.’ Given the scenic nature of the line
and this architectural heritage, the decision to reopen part of the line under the auspices of the FS
Fondazione is very good news, especially for those who failed to do the line when it was open!
The FS Fondazione plans a tourist train with 1930s carriages and a former luggage/post van adapted to
carry bicycles and ‘tasting of typical products’. Funding is to be provided by the Campania region. The first
train is planned for 22 August to coincide with a festival and will run 39km from Rocchetta San Antonio-
Lacedonia to Conza-Andretta-Cairano.
 Norway – Urskog–Hølandsbanen partially closed
The metre gauge Sørumsand to Fossum heritage railway, east of Oslo, was damaged by flooding and
rockfalls on 12 July and is only partially open on the section that parallels the NSB line between Sørumsand
and Bingsfos. The affected section is almost a kilometre long and according to one of the volunteers
reopening is not expected before September if it happens at all this year
 Poland - Observations from a recent visit
Two re-alignments reported as pending in Poland Extra November 2015 [A85] on the Kraków – Przemyśl
main line are now in use, E of Będziemyśl and a new bridge W of Dębica. At the latter all traces of the old
bridge on the south side have already gone and without the BLNI comment it could easily have been
assumed to be only a new bridge and not a cut off on a new alignment. Considerable upgrading work is still
underway on this line which includes more straightenings but they are much less significant that those
above. For completeness they are on the north side east of Sędziszów Małopolski, on the south side east of
a river bridge at Ropcyzce Witkowice and on the north side immediately east of Tarnów station.
Construction of the PKP Kraków Plaszów avoiding curve onto line 135 has started and it will be a flying
junction at the Kraków Glówny end. Regarding Kraków Airport. Airport trains are now four coaches long
and half hourly, so now get much closer to the buffers, and from the platform indicators both are in use
alternately. There was also time to walk up to the old station, no trace of which remains. The line was rusty
but remains connected and signalled, and the nearby road and level crossing have been levelled/repaired.
 Poland – Trains run between Kętrzyn and Węgorzewo
Two years ago e-BLNI 1217 reported tourist trains running between Kętrzyn (main line connection) and
Węgorzewo in northern Poland. A service also runs this year with three train pairs running until 28 August.
Timings (along with other services operated by SKPL) at http://www.shortlines.pl/travel.html
 Portugal – A visit to Beja
Since 2012 the line between Beja and Funcheira has been closed to passenger traffic, leaving Beja with
only a branch service – 4 trains a day M-F, 3 on Sat/Sun connecting with Lisboa-Évora IC trains at Casa
Branca, plus 2 return journeys (M-F) between Beja and Vila Nova da Baronia. 4 times a day might imply
regular interval departures, but check the timetable – currently the M-F departure times from Lisboa
Oriente are 07:02, 09:02, 17:02 and 19:02). The Évora line is electrified but the Beja branch is not. On 3
May 2016 the 18:29 Casa Branca-Beja was a 2-car unit with ample space for the passenger demand. The
track on the single-track branch appeared to be in excellent condition; making up time after a 10-minute or
so delay to the IC train, the unit reached speeds of 130-140kph.
Beja was once the junction for a line to Moura (to the East and slightly North) which closed in 1990. A
quick visit to a point due East of the town centre, where the road crossed both the Funcheira and Moura
lines on the level in quick succession, showed the Funcheira line rusty but apparently intact but the Moura
line completely abandoned and being reclaimed by the neighbours’ gardens. The grain silo near the station
acts as a point of reference for the photos in eBLNI.
The Funcheira line looking West The Moura line looking East
 Portugal – Mirandela Metro closes
The ‘Mirandela Metro’ was the last remaining portion of the Tua-Mirandela-Carvalhais-Bragança narrow
gauge line and a visit was reported in BLNI1232.166. After Portuguese Railways announced in December
that they would ‘permanently suspend’ their €20,000 per month payments towards running the railway
the Mirandela Municipality started negotiations to find alternative funding. These were unsuccessful, and
the service (which ran Cachão-Mirandela-Carvalhais) ended 7 May 2016, as did the associated Mirandela –
Tua ‘train taxi’.
 Serbia/Kosovo - Getting between them by rail – the current situation
Following the PTG Croatia and Bosnia tour a correspondent travelled through Kosovo. He can confirm that
the service from Zvečan to Kosovska Mitrovica Sever is indeed running, as he travelled from Kraljevo to
Kosovska Mitrovica Sever. Kosovska Mitrovica Sever is actually a loading platform where garbage lorries
shift their loads to freight trains. Not a nice place to stay long, which may be why the Serbian train returns
immediately to Serbia. He took a taxi right from the platform, which is in the Serbian part of Mitrovica, to
Priština. One travel recommendation he received was that one should travel only from Serbia to Kosovo
and not in the other direction. This was not straightforward. Kosovan authorities boarded the train at the
first small request stop after the border. They had no stamp with them but asked him to get his passport
properly stamped at the roadside border point. As the train only stops for a minute (which is obviously
enough time to check the local people's IDs) it was clearly an impossible situation. Aware of this, the two
officers let him into Kosovo but warned him that next time he should get his passport stamped properly.
 Spain - A Spanish track grice (Part 4)
Travelling from Córdoba to Málaga María Zambrano, the station at Puente Genil Herrera has an interesting
configuration. The twin parallel non-platform lines sit in a trench with the platform lines on both sides.
Trains carrying your correspondent stopped here in both directions and so did not use the fast lines. It
seems reasonable to assume that those trains without a booked call here would. At Antequera Santa Ana
the ultimate Spanish answer to the "country junction" including two different gauges and a gauge changer
continues to evolve well away from any actual human settlement! The layout is well defined but the flying
leads between the standard gauge AVE line and the new standard gauge line to Granada which continues
to be built are taking shape, the formation is established and sleepers are arranged along this. It would not
take much to get the track into place now, so opening in June 2016 or thereabouts might still be possible
based on works visible here. Relative to Puente Genil Herrara, Antequera Santa Ana does not have the
same vertical disparity between fast and platform loop lines. All are on much the same level.
The railway from Málaga to Fuengirola was travelled to cover the massive vertical realignment in the
vicinity of Málaga Airport station now extant for many years. One oddity noted was that all the loops on
the single track section are right hand running except Benalmádena Arroyo de la Miel. This is left hand
running and clearly is always is based on the direction of travel signage on the platforms. Why on the
whole route should this be different? The Málaga Tramway (Metro Málaga) is a very untypical standard
gauge tram system, but it is operated by CAF Urbos 3 5-section trams. It has tight curves and, on the
surface at least, operates on line of sight. However only 2.3km of its current 11km route is above ground
and the ambiance of the stations is more that of an underground railway. Currently the two lines are
effectively operated as one through route. Trams operate from Andalucia Tech which can charitably be
described as an area undergoing development, through to Palacio de los Deportes crucially with a reversal
at El Perchel (more or less under the RENFE station) which is the only common station to the two legs.
This, from a track point of view, might appear unremarkable until it is realised the two routes actually have
twin track platforms stacked one above the other at El Perchel, and consequently to get from Palacio de
los Deportes to Andalucia Tech trams must ascend an underground ramp and conversely in the opposite
direction descend another ramp. Even in the gloom of the tunnels, after a couple of trips the general
layout can begin to be divined and just looking along the tram clearly indicates the gradients being
negotiated just by the slope of the floor! This was not the original intention as the line was, and still is to
some extent, supposed to extend further east towards the old town at Guadalmedina and possibly even
further in future. If this results in the two lines operating separately then the connecting subterranean
ramps would return to their original purpose which is essentially stock transfer to the only depot a
kilometre beyond Andalucia Tech. Our member went on to travel from Málaga to Zaragoza, and this
involved an AVE train which took the Madrid avoiding line from Guadalajara Yebes (Vallecas A.V.-Aguja
km 12.3) – Ciudad Real Central (Los Gavilanes-Aguja km 13.4: Bif. Valdemingomez. Rather a mouthful, but
the curve connects the AV line from Sevilla to Madrid Atocha with the AV line from Madrid Atocha to
Barcelona. This is a flying junction with separate routes depending on the direction of travel.
Before this curve is reached there is another curve to allow AVE trains to avoid Madrid, this time
connecting the AV line from Sevilla to Madrid Atocha with the AV line from Madrid Atocha to València.
This is the Torrejón de Velasco curve from Ciudad Real (Yeles Aguja km 13.4) to Cuenca Fernando Zóbel
(Bif. Blancales). Our member observed that the flyover route, meant for trains from València to Córdoba,
is in fact devoid of overhead line equipment and possibly track too. Only the southerly, ground level tracks
appear extant, and must therefore carry services both ways, although a couple of extra crossovers would
be had towards Córdoba for those into microgricing. In Barcelona, Terassa Naciones Unides is now the
terminus of line S1 three stops beyond the previous terminus at Terassa Rambla. The preceding station,
Terrassa Estació del Nord, provides interchange with line R4. Only opened on 29 July 2015 the platforms
are all islands, as opposed to the twin tracks with platforms on opposite sides elsewhere. The service is the
frequent extension of that which ran before to Rambla, trains at Terassa Naciones Unides simply empty
and then draw forward to a headshunt before commencing service again from the opposite platform.
Malaga Metro Andalucia Tech station with CAF Urbos 3 3060 awaiting return to Palacio de los Deportes via a reversal at El Perchel.
REST OF THE WORLD
 Australia - Perth airport link announced
Public Transport Authority of Western Australia announced on 28 April the finalisation of the contract to
build the Forrestfield-Airport Link in Perth. It will build 8 km of twin bore tunnels and three stations, and
maintain the tunnels and civil structures for 10 years after completion. Due to open in 2020, the 8.5 km
line will leave the Midland Line east of Bayswater, cross the Swan River and serve stations at Belmont,
Airport Central and Forrestfield. The line will be 1067mm gauge. Preliminary work is already underway. In
November 2015 a bus route was introduced between the city centre and the airport as an interim service.
 Canada – Notes from BC
CN Squamish Subdivision: Recent removal of the D’Arcy loop, where banking engines formerly joined
northbound trains, has left a 27 mile single-track section from Birken to Seton. Friday is the only day of the
week when two round trips are scheduled from Seton Passage over the 18.3 miles to Lillooet by the unique
Kaoham Shuttle service, operated by CN for the Seton Lake Indian Band. This makes possible a Friday
round trip from the Lillooet end. (On other days, there is only a single round trip). Reservations are
essential, and must be made at least two days in advance. Lillooet and other remote communities are
meantime reportedly lobbying the BC government for a return of passenger services over the former BC
Rail main line to North Vancouver.
Vancouver Island: A special train of heritage carriages operated a series of passenger shuttles between the
renovated Nanaimo station and Wellington on 8 April, to serve as a demonstration of the tourist potential
for cruise ship traffic. Prospects of a return of regular E&N passenger service have however receded
further; the planned federal government contribution of CAD 7.5million is still withheld pending a lawsuit
over a First Nation claim of land ownership, Nanaimo Regional District has withdrawn its planned CAD
945k contribution, citing lack of confidence in the Island Corridor Foundation, and the Capital Regional
District has demanded a formal review of ICF’s governance and financial competence.
Arbutus Corridor: The long-running legal wrangle has finally been resolved, with the City of Vancouver
paying Canadian Pacific CAD 55million for the line from West 1st Avenue (mile 0.32) to Milton Street (mile
5.8). CP has agreed to remove the track within two years, and level crossings at Burrard Street and West
4th Avenue have already been removed. The city has agreed to reserve the land as a “greenway”, pending
public consultation on future use.
Central Park spur: Southern Railway of BC has lifted remaining tracks of this former BC Electric Railway
interurban line between mile 0.9 at New Westminster Yard and Nelson Avenue, Burnaby (mile 4.89).
Kamloops Heritage Railway: This steam-hauled operation covers the 3-mile connecting track between the
downtown former CN station and the CN yard to the north, including crossing the 935-ft South Thompson
River bridge. With no run-round, the loco leads northbound, and propels the train back (with a caboose
leading). Operating dates this year are Saturdays 30 June to 27 August, plus Thursday and Friday evening
trips in August.
Kettle Valley Steam Railway: This 5.5-mile operation is based at Prairie Valley station, some 4 miles west of
Summerland. The loco operates tender-first outbound, before running round and propelling the train (at
snail’s pace) onto the 240-ft high Trout Creek Bridge, before reversing to call at Canyon View Road
platform for a photo opportunity, and then returning chimney-first to Prairie Valley. Trains run from mid-
May to early October.
 Canada – Toronto opens Cherry tram extension
June 18 saw the inauguration of the first extension to
Toronto’s tram network since 2000 and was celebrated with
vintage trams running on the line. Scheduled services on the
Cherry route started the following day. The new line follows
a newly-built 400 metre alignment along Cherry Street
running south from King Street to the Distillery Loop. This
branches off from the existing east-west route 504 at
Sumach, with 514 services running to Dufferin Gate Loop in
 India - Electrification completed
Electric operation has been inaugurated on the South
Western Railway’s 178 km Yelahanka – Dharmavaram line,
the Ministry of Railways announced on 14 July. The SWR has
the lowest proportion of electrified lines among India’s zonal
railways, but work has been underway for some years to
wire key routes in Karnataka radiating from Bangalore,
including the 139 km line to Mysore, which is due to be
completed by the end of this year. Work began in 2011-12 to
electrify the 306 km route running north from Yelahanka on
the outskirts of Bangalore to Dharmavaram and Gooty in
Andhra Pradesh. This line is used by the Karnataka, Rajdhani
and Sampark Kranthi expresses between Bangalore and
Delhi, which up until now have been diesel hauled south of Secunderabad. Last year proposals were
approved for double-tracking the 121 km between Yelahanka and Penukonda with work expected to begin
in October for completion in around three years.
 Japan - Minami-Aso railway may close after earthquake severely damages infrastructure
Regional train operators from across Japan have banded together to help a railway to get back on track
after the recent earthquakes. The train line operated by Minami-Aso Railway Co., which cuts through the
village of that name, was hard-hit by the biggest tremor in the series that started in central Kyushu on 14
April. The 16 April quake trashed many of the scenic places the trains travelled through: tracks were
covered by landslides, rail bridges were distorted and tunnel walls cracked. A mass of roof tiles fell off
Minami-Aso’s Aso-Shimoda-Jo Fureai Onsen Station, where a hot spring facility is located inside the station
building. Ten days later the railway company had not yet been able to determine the entire scope of the
damage caused to the line. The typhoon in 2005 was even worse for the Takachiho Railway Co. in Miyazaki
Prefecture as the company’s rail line was forced to discontinue after a bridge collapsed in the disaster.
Stretching over a distance of 18 kilometres or so, the Minami-Aso Railway line connects the village's
Tateno Station with Takamori Station. The line is known for the “torokko” (mine cart) trains with open
windows that travel through old forests and over rail bridges towering 60 metres above ground. The
operator is based just outside Takamori Station, the only station on the line located outside Minami-Aso.
The train line was originally a regional route operated by Japanese National Railways, but was taken over
by the current operator in 1986 when the line was abolished due to the privatization of JNR. According to
media, the Minami-Aso-Railway may lead to closure because the cost of restoration would be 3-5billion
Yen (30-50 million USD), which far exceeds the financial capacity of the small local railway company.
A "torokko" train travels over a rail bridge in 2012 in Minami-Aso,
Kumamoto Prefecture, on the line operated by Minami-Aso Railway Co.
 Kazakhstan – Train ferry ships ordered for new port branch
The 13.9 km Borzhakty – Ersai branch from the Aktau – Uzen line was opened on 2 July 2015. It will serve a
port which is being developed on the Caspian Sea near Kuryk, south of Aktau. Kazakhstan National railways
has now ordered a train ferry from Croatia for delivery in 2017, with an option for a second which would
be delivered in 2018. It is suspected that it will replace the existing Baku - Aktau train ferry.
RAILTOURS AND DIVERSIONS OVER NON-PASSENGER LINES
This is provided as a service to members and details must be checked with the organisers.
Italy - Long freight line to be used for diversions
South of Pisa the 45 km long Vada – Collesalvetti – Pisa line will be used for diversions for much of the
remaining summer, and the autumn. This allows trains to bypass Livorno. Two overnight trains are
involved, with typically Italian complex days of operation. Details at EGTRE IT16/82:
AUGUST 2016 BLNI Extra No. 16 - USA
[B52] USA – NE Corridor plans
Excellent maps showing the very ambitious ideas for new track between Washington and Boston -
including a route option via Long Island and a big bridge are at this link;
It’s a big file – 28MB, and slow to load. Whether any of it will be built in our lifetimes is of course another
[B53] USA - Way clear for new services in New England
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration has announced a Finding of No
Significant Impact on the Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative. The finding clears the way for
states and the federal government to invest in future passenger rail service in New England. The Initiative
proposes to restore service between Boston and New Haven through Springfield and Hartford and add
new service between Boston and Montreal.
[B54] USA – Rail tour operators
There are several companies who organise rail tours in the USA. These sometimes take unusual routes and
often use freight locos for haulage.
Some of these can be perused and booked via the following websites:
Blackstone Tourism Council:
High Iron Travel:
Massachusetts Bay Rail Road Enthusiasts:
The Providence and Worcester Railroad also organise some tours. Their website is www.pwrr.com/ but
details of tours is by request via email to: [email protected].
The Union Pacific Railroad operate occasional tours with their preserved steam engines
[B54] USA - List of deadly railroad crossings released
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has released a list of
railroad crossings where multiple incidents have occurred in recent years. There are more than 200,000
railroad crossings in the USA. Of these there are 15 where at least 10 incidents occurred over the last
decade. Many of the 15 crossings are at busy, multiple lane intersections in locations with significant truck
traffic, or have tracks crossings roadways on a diagonal. Last year, the FRA launched a new, comprehensive
campaign to reverse the increase in fatalities at railroad crossings. The campaign includes partnering with
tech companies to use FRA data that pinpoints the country’s approximately 200,000 railroad crossings and
add crossing alerts to map applications. In 2015, 244 individuals died at railroad crossings, down from 264
[B55] USA – Get ready for the Cincinnati streetcars
The new Cincinnati Streetcar line will open this summer, probably in September and will comprise a 3.6-
mile figure of eight loop connecting the Banks, Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. Streetcars will operate 18
hours a day, 365 days a year travelling a loop from Second Street (at The Banks on the riverfront) to Henry
Street (just north of Findlay Market in Over the Rhine). There will be 18 stops located along the route,
serving destinations such as Government Square, Contemporary Arts Center, Public Library, Aronoff
Center, The Gateway Quarter, The Music Hall and Washington Park. The City of Cincinnati has selected CAF
USA as the preferred vendor to provide up to five modern streetcar vehicles. A maintenance and
operations facility is at the corner of Henry and Race streets at the northern tip of the route.
This year marks the 65th anniversary of the final run of the original Cincinnati streetcars. Opened as a
horse-drawn streetcar on 14 September 1859, the system was converted to electric traction in 1889. At its
height the system had 222 miles of track and carried over 100 million passengers a year. It included
inclined railways which carried streetcars up steep slopes. Increased car ownership led to decline and the
system closed in 1951.
[B56] USA - New rail service to Dallas-Fort Worth airport
A new passenger rail service, ‘TEX Rail’, is to be created in Texas from Fort Worth to Dallas-Fort Worth
Airport. There will 8 intermediate stations between the airport and the Intermodal Transportation Center
(this is a passenger transport interchange) in central Fort Worth. The trains will run for a total of 27 miles,
mainly over existing, currently freight only lines, with a new branch from the perimeter of the airport to a
station within Terminal B. There will be two new stations in the airport. The airport is to fund and build the
Terminal B terminus within a budget of $40m, while a second station at Airport North will be funded by
the Fort Worth Transportation Authority. There is an existing rail connection from central Dallas to the
airport via the DART light rail network. A walkway is to connect the TEX Rail and DART stations. Work is
due to start later this summer and the line should be opened in late 2018.
[B57] USA – Date announced for start of enhanced Hartford line services
The date for the start of enhanced commuter rail services on ‘The Hartford Line’ between New Haven in
Connecticut, Hartford and Springfield in Massachusetts is now officially January 2018.
The CTrail commuter service will connect at New Haven with Metro-North services to and from New York.
The line is currently served by just six inter-city trains per day in each direction. These are operated by
Amtrak, who also own the line. Work is ongoing to partially re-double the track (singled in 1990) and to
build four new stations, making a total of 12 intermediate stations.
The scheme was first envisaged in 1994. A plan was drawn up 2001, with an estimated capital cost of $249
milllion. After delays in securing political and public support work began in 2011. Originally it was planned
that services would start running by 2016. However various problems, including massive increases in
construction costs, which now stand $570 million, mean that 2018 is the new target.
The operator of the new commuter services will be chosen this year from a shortlist of bidders. The
operating company will be responsible for operating the trains and maintaining the stations, whilst Amtrak
will be responsible for maintaining infrastructure, signalling and despatching.
Initially, the number of daily trains will increase to 17 each way between New Haven and Hartford, with 30
minute intervals during the peak, and 12 between Hartford and Springfield. This includes the current Inter-
city trains. The long-term objective is to operate 25 trains each way, with a 15 minute interval during the
peak, but this would require further enhancements north of Hartford which are not currently funded.
[B58] USA – Honululu metro contract awarded
Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has announced that it has awarded a contract for the next
phase of the city’s light metro line. The $874·8m contract is for the design and construction of an elevated
5.2 mile line between Aloha Stadium and Middle Street, and the construction of four stations at Pearl
Harbor Naval Base, Honolulu International Airport, Lagoon Drive and Middle Street. This is the first phase
of the Honolulu Rail Project and is due to open next year. The 20 mile elevated line will eventually reach
Ala Moana Center in the east and will have 20 stations. The track is to be standard gauge and will be third
[B59] USA - FirstGroup win US contract
UK-based FirstGroup has signed its first rail contract in North America. The contract for the operation and
maintenance of the 21 mile long ‘A-train’ commuter line which connects Denton with Dallas in Texas has
been awarded to First Transit, which is a subsidiary of UK-based First Group. It is First Group’s first North
American Rail contract and is scheduled to come into effect on 1 October, running for nine years, with an
option for a further five years.
The A-train service between Denton and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Green Line station at Trinity
Mills was opened in 2011. The standard gauge line has services operated by a fleet of 11 Stadler GTW 2/6
diesel multiple-units. It has five stations and carries more than 500,000 passengers per year.
[B60] USA - Milwaukee Chooses Liberty Streetcars for Starter Line
The City of Milwaukee has agreed terms with Brookville Equipment Corporation for the supply of 4 Liberty
streetcars to operate its 3.4km (2.1-mile) Starter line between Burns Commons and Clybourne Street. The
USD18.6m contract includes options for a further 20 trams. The city’s Joint Committee on Downtown
Streetcar Implementation has also authorised the Department of Public Works to exercise an option for a
fifth vehicle, required for the 1.2km (0.7-mile) Lakefront branch line. In October the US Department of
Transportation confirmed a USD14.2m TIGER grant for this extension.
[B61] USA - Miami to get trams?
The Miami Beach City Commission has approved the start of negotiations between Alstom-led Greater
Miami Tramlink Partners consortium and The Miami Beach City Commission for the development of a tram
line running in a loop along dedicated lanes.
Originally the consortium submitted an unsolicited proposal for a tram line, which led to the city inviting
tenders for technical proposals, which attracted three responses. The Alstom consortium is currently the
preferred bidder. Alstom propose using its APS ground-level power system and the city is looking for a
The second-ranked consortium, Connect Miami Beach, comprising OHL, Globalvia, COMSA, Community
Asphalt, Atkins, CAF, SENER, Railworks and LK Comstock, propose trams using supercapacitor energy
storage, whilst third-ranked Miami Beach Mobility Partners propose Brookville battery powered trams.
The final route has yet to be decided. The main aim is to relieve traffic congestion.
[B62] USA - El Paso streetcar moves forward
Rail lines connecting Paisano Drive to Father Rahm Street in South El Paso are set to be welded within a
few weeks as part of the $97 million Streetcar Project expected to debut in 2018. The first rail lines were
welded on the 22 June when workers joined the first set of steel lines along Oregon Street, from Glory
Road to University Avenue. The streetcar line will be 4.8 miles long.
The trolley system ran in El Paso from 1882-1974. At the time, it was the only international streetcar,
connecting Juarez (Mexico) and El Paso. The system was re-established from 1990-2000 with rubber tyre
trolleys, at which time, streetcars left El Paso’s streets.
[B63] USA – First part of Denver B Line opens
The first phase of the 41-mile B Line of the Denver Eagle Public-Private Partnership (P3) Commuter Rail
Project opened on 25 July. Built under Denver Regional Transportation District’s FasTracks programme, the
9·6 km route is the initial section of a planned 66 km route that would eventually link central Denver to
Longmont. The B Line is the second FasTracks commuter rail line to open, following the A Line, which
entered passenger service in April. The G Line is due to open later this year. Helping travel between
Westminster and the Union Station Transit Centre, commuters can connect to the C, E, and W light-rail
lines, and the University of Colorado A Line to Denver International Airport, as well as to local and regional
The new B Line is the second major commuter rail project this year. In April, the first 23-mile University of
Colorado A Line commenced operation, running between downtown Denver Union Station and Denver