I TER ATIO AL SUPPLEME T TO BL 1229 21 MARCH 2015
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
Your International Editor has returned from his travels and postal contributions should now be made to
the usual address. More photographs would be appreciated, preferably with an associated item, but
photographs with extended captions of up to five lines are quite acceptable.
An Amsterdam – Brussels service crosses the Delft Viaduct watched by photographers on the De Roos windmill. The
viaduct is now closed and will be demolished. See item 114
 Belgium - Thalys services to be withdrawn
The Belgian Cabinet (Federal Government) decided on Friday 13 February to withdraw the Oostende –
Brussels Thalys train from April 2015. This once a day (twice at weekends) through service runs at a loss
as very, very few people use it between Brussels and Oostende. The Oostende Thalys was only really
introduced for political reasons given the need to have a Flemish service to balance out the service
introduced in Wallonia between Paris and Liege via Namur, Charleroi and Mons ( having lived there for
almost two years your editor can confirm that Belgian politics really does work like that. Ed. ). The future
of the Wallonian Thalys was discussed by the Federal Government on Monday 16 February and a few days
later it was announced that the service would be ‘suspended’, with effect from 1 April, with the clear
expectation that it will not start again. The Wallonian Thalys currently runs via Line 1/3 (Y Antoing – Y
Maubray) from the LGV to Mons and this lengthy connection will therefore cease to be used.
 Bulgaria/Greece - The railtour of three alphabets (part 4)
14th September. Bus back to Gorna Oryakhovitsa, where the train awaited, this time double headed by
01.23 and 03.12 – an impressive combination to haul three coaches! The route today was via Asenovo,
Popovo and Shumen, to Kaspichan. En-route there was a 40 minute stop at Asenovo for a visit to the
adjacent steam locomotive reserve, where a group of sidings with an overall roof, but open sides, housed
15 steam locomotives and a rotating snow plough. Among the 15 were examples of classes 45 (0-12-0T)
and 46 (2-12-4T), Bulgaria being one of only four countries to have operated 12-coupled steam
locomotives. At Kaspichan the tour bade farewell to 03.12, and the train reversed. With loco 01.23 the tour
returned through Shumen and diverged southwards on a secondary electrified line through Komunari to
reach the Sofia-Burgas main line at Karnobat. This being a long day, Karnobat was reached after dark. Due
to problems with platform occupancy (they were advised that only one platform was in use) at Burgas,
they were bussed from Karnobat directly to the hotel. They subsequently discovered most of the Burgas
station tracks had been dug-up for drainage and relaying works.
15th September. This was an off-train day, by bus to the (over-touristy) World Heritage town of Nesebar,
via a place called (in English!) Sunny Beach – Bulgaria’s version of Benidorm. Our member did, however,
note that for part of the way they ran close to the freight only branch to Pomorie, which looked to be in
use (apparently it has a loading point for coal traffic), and at one road roundabout the journey crossed this
line at a point where it was parallel and adjacent to a narrow gauge industrial line, which also looked to be
used. Can anyone provide any more information about these lines?
 Czech Republic - One branch to be electrified, but another to close?
It is hoped to electrify the Šumperk - Petrov nad Desnou- Kouty nad Desnou branch by mid November
2015, though due to a shortage of EMUs it will be operated by both EMU and DMU until 2017. In the long
term there are hopes of extending the line, in tunnel, to connect with line 292 to Jesenik, thereby
replacing the existing slow but very scenic mountain route and reducing journey times. However the 3.4km
branch from Petrov nad Desnou to Sobotin is NOT included in the electrification scheme and is believed to
be a closure candidate.
 France – Good news in the Vendée
Funding is finally in place to secure the future of two branch lines near Nantes. The 30km from Nantes to
Ste Pazanne was recently modernised, but from Ste Pazanne to Pornic (30km) and Ste Pazanne to Saint
Gilles (55km) the track was life expired and the branches were closed from September 2014. Both single
tracks will be entirely replaced with new ballast, new concrete sleepers and long welded rails. Nine level
crossings will close and line speeds will be increased. The project is on course to allow reopening on 15
 France – Bayonne to Jean-Pied-de-Port branch gets funds for completion of work
Internet sources had indicated that funding would be found, and this has now proved to be the case. The
first phase of the regeneration of the line, completed in 2010, was between Bayonne and Cambo-les-
Bains. The plan was to complete the rest of the line in 2013, but funding difficulties in the Aquitaine region
prevented this. The second phase from Cambo-les-Bains to Jean-Pied-de-Port was officially launched at
11:00 on 5 February at the station of Saint-Martin-d’Arrossa with reopening of the line expected in late
 France – New station for Rouen?
The Haute-Normandie Region will start studies for a new station to handle the future Paris to Normandy
LGV, planned for 2030. The new station will be located on the site of the former docks at Sernam, on the
left bank near the Saint-Sever neighbourhood and act as a catalyst for development of a new mixed urban
area with a multimodal transportation hub. A new tunnel under the Seine will be required.
 France – Paimpol to Guingamp branch negotiations
Unless extensive remedial works are undertaken within two years the Paimpol to Guingamp branch will be
forced to close on safety grounds. Since August 2013 line speed has been reduced to 45km/h and this year
some sections will drop to 30km/h, with the entire line reduced to 30km/h in 2016. €30M is required, and
the Region has promised 60% of this, but SNCF and local communities must make up the shortfall.
Discussions take place shortly.
 Germany – Reopening date for Meinerzhagen – Brügge announced
A press release on the Nahverkehr Westfalen Lippe (NVL) website has announced that the re-opening
of Meinerzhagen - Brügge to passenger trains will take place on 10 December 2017. The hourly RB25
service from Köln will then be extended to Lüdenscheid.
 Germany - Bottrop Nord loses traffic
The line from Abzw Oberhausen-Osterfeld to Bottrop Nord (strecke 2262) is a non-electrified single track
about 8.8km long and limited to 40km/h. Until 31 March 2014 1000 tonnes of sand were delivered daily to
the Pilkington glass factory, and since then the line has been retained for occasional freight to the factory.
From 1 April the line has no traffic and DB Netz want to sell it.
 Italy - Merano – Malles electrification approved, but no date
The provincial council of the Italian autonomous region of South Tyrol on 16 December approved the
electrification of the Merano - Malles line. The council says investment in the line is necessary because of
sharp rises in passengers and subsequent overcrowding on the line, which is now carrying 2 million
passengers per year. Electrification is considered the best way to improve services and after the project is
complete it will be possible to offer a service every 30 minutes with longer trains. The line will also offer an
hourly direct connection from Bolzano to Malles, without requiring a change in Merano.
 Italy - Long term closures in Umbria
Since 1 September 2014 there has been total closure of the San Gémini to Terni section with no end date
announced. This appears to be part of a double tracking programme for lines on both the FS and FCU
networks along with elimination of some level crossings.
 Lithuania/Latvia - International service ending
The Vilnius to St. Petersburg international trains ( trains 91 and 92) will no longer run from 1 June 2015,
and from the Lithuanian border station of Turmantas to Daugavpils ( in Latvia) will lose its passenger
service. Last train to St.Petersburg on 30 May and last train to Vilnius 31 May.
 Netherlands – Delft viaduct closes and is replaced by tunnel
21 February saw the last trains over the classic 1.2km long viaduct route in Delft. A new tunnel and
underground station have been built which will take trains away from the restricted two track viaduct
route. The construction of the tunnel began in 2009 and is part of the Spoorzone Delft project. This project
consists of several sub-projects, including a new underground station, a car park, an underground bicycle
for 5,000 bicycles, a city park and residential buildings on the site of the viaduct. The total cost is estimated
at €1 billion. The viaduct itself replaced the original line that was at street level with numerous level
crossings. The railway viaduct was built between 1960 and 1965, between Kampveldweg and Houttuinen,
just north of Delft station. Between 21 and 28 February there was a block whilst the old line was
disconnected and the new line connected. The viaduct will be demolished and housing built on the
formation. It will not be missed, being a rather brutalist concrete structure with trains delivering
considerable noise to adjacent buildings. Of more consequence to the railway, the two tracks were a
considerable bottleneck on the increasingly busy Dutch network. The only downside is that passengers on
the train will no longer see the attractive De Roos windmill. Fifty people bought tickets to the windmill to
photograph the last trains over the viaduct. The new twin bore tunnel is approximately 3400 metres long
and initially will have two tracks, to be later increased to four.
The day before closure of the Delft viaduct loco 1615 passes on a Beverwijk to Kijfhoek steel train. The visual
intrusiveness and noise issues which led to the closure of the viaduct are readily apparent.
 Poland - Poorly used freight line gets draisine operation
Freight still runs occasionally between Nowy Zagórz and Ustrzyki Dolni, though passenger trains to
Krościenko ended in 2010. The Municipality of Olszanica has leased the line for draisine cycling from 1
January on the 40km section between Załuż and Krościenko
 Poland - NG branch to reopen for anniversary
The new governor of the Piła area has announced the intention to rebuild the Białośliwie railway branch
to Łobżenica for this year's 120th anniversary at the beginning of July. Reopening for this date will be a
challenge as around a kilometre of track is missing, however some work has started clearing trees growing
on the line.
The Ed Beale organised special on the Białośliwie narrow gauge line in October 2014 visited the stub of the Łobżenica
branch, requiring some hasty work on the track to get over a road.
 Poland - New stations on Hrubieszów line for Zamość
Anyone who has visited the delightful old city of Zamość, with its UNESCO world heritage centre, will know
that it is a long walk from the present station to the city. The railway line east from Zamość to Hrubieszów
( near the Ukraine border) passes south of the city centre and locals have long agitated for a station on
this line. In fact they are getting two stations as seen from the plan, and these were almost ready at the
end of January. However the
residents are not impressed by PKP
closing part of the line to Lublin
from 1 June - 5 October for track
replacement works, so buses to
Zamość! Reopening of the line to
Hrubieszów had been considered. It
has only been used by a pilgrimage
special in recent years, and last year
even this did not run as the weekly
track inspection train did not
operate. With funding ‘stretched’ reopening is on the back-burner or indefinitely deferred.
 Spain - Albacete-Xatvia
During a trip on the Iberian gauge line the following was observed:
1. As per EGTRE ES15/36 there are two routes from Moixent which represents the extreme southern end
of Cercanias from Valencia, but while the non-Cercanias train duly traversed the newer straighter route
that runs up to 2km to the south it was realized that currently so do the Cercanias! It was noted where the
old route was visible that it appears to have been rebuilt although anything visible did not suggest
realignment. The trackbed looks all new and the overhead was undergoing replacement. Consequently
perusal of the local timetable at Xàtvia revealed that all the local trains from there to Moixent were
running with bus connections to the intermediate three stations as defined by green shading and a
footnote, so this must be quite a long running situation. Those who traversed this route before the ‘new’
variante was built may wish to do so again as the old route now uses a flyover to regain the original course
–so this must also be another realignment!
2. At Xàtvia itself a slightly strange sight is the presence of a beautifully manicured twin track standard
gauge line with loops serving platforms including one where the Iberian gauge trains call going south on
the other side, all perfectly rusted! There is no superstructure above rail level, signals or electrification
structures: the line disappears in both directions. The rails are laid on variable gauge sleepers but no
additional outer Iberian gauge rails have been added. It is believed this is part of the Valencia-Alacant
Levante project meant to project the 1435mm European network further into Spain and provide fast but
not true high speed services along the coast. Later in the trip a further glimpse of this route was made
passing eastwards along the line west of Tarragona where a twin track railway passed underneath and a
single chord trailed in right, this forming a link towards the Madrid-Barcelona HSL near Tarragona de
Campo, but again no superstructures above rail level were noted.
 Switzerland - Porrentruy to Bonfol threatened
Porrentruy to Bonfol is seriously threatened. In order to renew the old signalling system and to comply
with new laws (especially the very costly “law for equalization of disabled persons“) about 10 million Swiss
Francs have to be invested in this short line. To cover 30% of costs, the current daily average of about 600
passengers would have to rise to about 1000.
 Switzerland - Developments in northern Zürich
A fourth track between Effretikon and Hürlistein was commissioned on 13 October 2014. This enables
trains to depart Effretikon towards both Zürich Flughafen and Dietlikon at the same time. One service that
uses it is the S3 towards Stettbach. This quadrupling
was part of the works associated with the
Überwerfung Hürlistein project, of which details
may be of interest to members. The Überwerfung
Hürlistein is a new bridge which opened to traffic
on 16 November 2013 and it enables a train
approaching from Dietlikon to pass over the tracks
that branch off to Zürich Flughafen. The bridge
section is 400 metres long, but the long approach
ramps mean the new line is approximately 1500
metres in length. It runs from km 13.6 to km16.3
and is normally used by S12 services but not the
S8 as there is no conflict when the S8 runs. Although
intended for trains heading away from Zürich the
Überwerfung is bidirectionally signalled and a
member travelled it early this year when his train
ran wrong line from Effretikon to Dietlikon,
including over the Überwerfung Hürlistein in the "wrong" direction. More ( in German) at:
REST OF THE WORLD
 Australia – Flemington to Flemington North Junction [ - Olympic Park]
This 2.65 km section of the former Homebush Bay branch - in the Sydney suburbs - provides a route direct
to Olympic Park from the east which was latterly used only by a single Monday to Friday Sydney Central -
Olympic Park train. From 25 January 2015 there has been no regular service (all other regular services at
Olympic Park are shuttles from/to Lidcombe) but trains do run for special events. Also, during engineering
work west of Flemington, train services may run between Sydney Central and Olympic Park, for
connections with rail replacement bus services at Olympic Park station.
 Australia - Travelling Queensland’s threatened railways (part 3)
The new ‘Spirit of Queensland ‘ tilt trains are booked to take exactly 24 hours Brisbane to Cairns compared
with 32 hours on the ‘Sunlander’ (1680km), but seem to struggle to achieve this. All three our member
travelled on lost time for various reasons and failed to regain it. They are 160km/h capable, which is
impressive for narrow gauge (all QR is 3’6” gauge), but little of the track is passed for this, with noticeable
slowing down for bends despite the tilt, and Townsville to Cairms is noticeably inferior track. In the north
there are huge fields of sugar cane served by a massive network of 600mm gauge railways – allegedly
4600km – idea for a railtour…? These are much in evidence from the train and cross the QR line more than
20 times on the level with only crude local lever operated mechanical signalling protection. Quite
disconcerting to see a cane train trundling away about 400 metres down the line which must have crossed
in front of you only minutes earlier. Freight trains on the main line were also few and far between, and
mainly containers, although a cement train was seen at Cairns and molasses wagons seen in places.
Our member had a Sunday in Cairns to do the Kuranda scenic railway, the first 35km of the line to
Forsayth, which unfortunately he could not do as it takes four days and only runs once a week. This seems
to be a semi-autonomous set up within QR run purely as a tourist railway with separate staff and ticket
office, and much higher fares. A$49 single and A$74 return for the 33 km journey. There are two trains a
day at 08:30 and 09:30 returning after a stopover in the afternoon. Coaches are vintage but obviously
refurbished inside with four a side long bench seating with the gangway on one side – not down the
middle because the scenery is mostly on one side of the train as per Vale of Rheidol. Kuranda station is
beautiful, covered in tropical plants, and still has a working traditional British style signal box with lower
quadrant semaphores – the only one he saw in the country.
 Dominican Republic - Sugar Cane and Metros
Your errant International Editor, having successfully escaped from Haiti on the first international bus to
run after a week long dispute, was jolted from his contemplation of the scenery in the Dominican Republic
when he realised that the coach was running alongside a railway line, and furthermore one which was
obviously in use. Since his mobile phone had a full set of maps of the country ( ME Maps, available as a
free download) as well as GPS, he was quickly cognisant of his location and found the main part of the
railway clearly shown. Soon the line swung round to a junction where there were a number of sidings, all
showing signs of heavy use judging by the amount of plant litter present on the ground from sugar cane
loading. There were some poor looking buildings nearby, subsequently found to be a Batey ( plural
Bateyes). These are company towns or villages used to house migrant labour in the cutting season. There
are a number of these along the length of the line in the sugar cane area, numbered for identification.
Road and railway continued alongside for a considerable distance, with more well used sidings at intervals,
then the road looped round a hill ( the railway uses a cutting) before rejoining the road. Soon the coach
turned away to access the highway to Santo Domingo, but ME Maps revealed that the metre gauge line
continued all the way to the coastal town of Barahona where the Ingenio ( Sugar Mill ) was located. A little
research soon found an excellent website giving considerable further information at:
Suitably fired up from this encounter after five weeks with barely a sniff at a railway, investigation
revealed that Santo Domingo had a recently constructed metro system. After sightseeing in the Zona
Coloniale, a taxi was taken to the southern end of the system at Centro de los Héroes, where a structure
reminiscent of the infamous ‘wormholes’ in Bilbao gave access. At the Boleteria ( ticket office ) a day pass
( Pase Dia) was easily purchased for 80 pesos + 15 pesos for the once-only use plastic card. That’s about
US$2. Linea 1 runs first east, then north to the station of Mamá Tingó in the suburb of Villa Mella, a
distance of 14.5km. Commercial services started on 30 January 2009. All stations on both lines are named
after famous people of the Republic, which doesn’t actually give any clue as to where the stations are, so
station signs and announcements also include street names and well known landmarks. It is rather
surprising to hear the words ‘Avenida Winston Churchill’ after a flood of Spanish. Interchange between
linea 1 and 2 is at Centro Olímpico Juan Pablo Duarte. After ten underground stations linea 1 emerges
onto the elevated section immediately before Generalisimo Máximo Gómez station, after which the depot
is on the left. All the next five stations are elevated and a fine view of the run-down northern suburbs may
be enjoyed as well as a river crossing. At Mamá Tingó the line continues out of sight around a bend, but
terminating trains run a short distance over a crossover before re-entering the station on the other track. It
was necessary to leave the platform and walk over a busy road to re-enter the station to join a southbound
train. Transfer to Linea 2 ( opened 1 April 2013) was effected at Centro Olímpico Juan Pablo Duarte, and a
train taken to the western end of the system at María Móntez, where only one platform was in use. Linea
2 is an east-west line and is 12.85km long with all 14 stations underground. The journey to the eastern
terminus of Eduardo Brito completed the system.
This station is the closest to the Zona Coloniale where
all the major sights are to be found as well as most of
the hotels, so it was either a taxi or a 4km walk, the
latter being chosen, though not without some
subsequent concerns as the road passed through a
rather low life neighbourhood! The metro system was
extremely modern and well looked after, with no
evidence of graffiti. It would be charitable to put this
down to civic pride, but the more likely reason is the
ubiquitous presence of security staff from the CESMET company on platforms and trains. Their logo,
prominently displayed on their uniforms, is a winged metro train – with guns! The trainsets are the same
as those used on the Barcelona Metro. Your indefatigable editors’ next stop was the northern city of
Samana where Whale watching was on the agenda. However, a bridge very reminiscent of a railway
viaduct was present, going halfway across the local bay by a series of tiny islets. This had to be
investigated. Alas, it proved to be a construction solely for tourist purposes rejoicing in the local name of
‘the Bridge to Nowhere’. The following day however found remains of a real railway. On the south side of
Samana Bay is Los Haitises National Park, well known for its beautiful islands rising sheer out of the water.
These, and caves with Indian petroglyphs form a popular excursion by boat. The battered remains of a low
causeway projecting out from the mainland to a small islet could be seen, with the stumps of a long quay
present beyond – each stump claimed by a Brown Pelican or group of Royal Terns. The tour group was
informed that this was the remains of a railway built by a British Company in the 1890s to export sugar
from plantations nearby before the creation of the National Park. No further details have been located.
 Sri Lanka – the LCGB Trip to Sri Lanka ( Part 1)
It had been 2002 since our member and his wife visited Sri Lanka. Then the long war with the Tamil Tigers
had stopped them visiting the north. The war finished some five years ago and Colin Miell of LCGB had
stated that he wanted to run the first steam train to Jaffna when the route re-opened. News filtered
through in mid-2014 that the line would re-open before the end of the year. Coupled with this was a third
operational steam locomotive expected to be available by January 2015. In the Autumn there seemed a
good chance of both happening, so the tour was declared as running. But there was still time to worry
whether the two things would come together. However, the first diesel train reached Jaffna and the loco
came out of works and things looked good. For the record the three steam locos available were: 213 4-6-
0TT, a tender tank locomotive, class B2b built by Vulcan Foundry in 1922. Its overhaul was completed in
December 2014, 251 4-6-0 Class B1a Sir Thomas Maitland 4-6-0 built by Beyer Peacock in 1928 and 340 4-
6-0 Class B1d, Frederick North built by R Stephenson in 1944. They arrived at Colombo Airport using
Emirates from Manchester via Dubai. Arriving at the Airport they saw a large welcoming party of hundreds
but did wonder if they were there to wave off the Pope as he was leaving the same time! The majority of
the group arrived later flying directly from Heathrow. After less than a day to recover they had an early
coach ride to Colombo Fort Station to find the Viceroy Special waiting for them, with 4-6-0 No. 251 on the
front and a diesel on the back. However, the latter was uncoupled and, apart from a couple of sections
where it was attached for a very short distance for a gradient problem and then a pathing problem it
followed behind as a rescue locomotive, never being used for that purpose. Locomotives were changed at
Maho Junction where 4-6-0 No. 340 took over the train. They eventually pulled into Anuradhapura about
four hours late. Previously the furthest north our member had reached was Maho Junction. Next morning
departure from the hotel was even earlier. However newly outshopped No. 213 was failed with ejector
problems. Luckily No.340, having worked from Maho Junction, was on shed and rapidly prepared for duty.
So departure was two hours late and this resulted in pathing difficulties. Lunch was to be taken on arrival
at Kankesanthurai but was delivered earlier to the train from a military canteen. Arrival at Jaffna was some
four and half hours late. Our member had not expected to be able to travel to the end of the line, beyond
Jaffna, because it was a military area. However, the driver sounded his whistle to get on the train. The
driver indicated our member could ride in the cab and the train roared northwards. It appeared that the
line had only been re-opened two weeks before. Much work, for example installing new level crossings and
signals, was still going on. Arriving at the uncompleted terminus of Kankesanthurai there was a lot of
congratulating and pictures could be taken freely. It had been planned for the road coach to pick the
group up here but security forbade this, so the diesel pulled the whole train back to Jaffna. The main
objective had been achieved. There were two problems at Jaffna station next morning. No.340 was not
ready and the generator car had broken down. So no electricity, meaning no air conditioning. After coaling
No.340 was ready to depart tender first with the train. The group had been told previously that the diesel
was to haul the whole train but no, it again followed a section behind. After turning the locomotive en-
route it ran to Medawachchiya Junction where repaired No.213 was waiting to haul the train to Madhu
Road, current terminus of the line going to Talaimannar. It was decided that it was too late to go there as
it was getting dark so No.213 was put on the back of the train and it proceeded back to Anuradhapura
completing the southbound route from Jaffna by steam. Some opted to leave the train earlier to take the
road coach to Madhu Church which the Pope had just visited and then follow the incomplete railway line
towards Talaimannar. It was possible to see in the distance the heavy equipment reconstructing the line
over the sea inlets which prevented the line re-opening to the Pier. A chain of sand shoals between
Talaimannar and Danushkodi in India, called Adam's Bridge, has the only land border between India and
Sri Lanka, which is the smallest in the world, being just 50 yards in length on a sand dune. Our member
does not know if it is manned. There used to be ferry boat from Talaimannar to India. (There was indeed.
See ‘The Boat Mail’ in BLNI 1124.426. Ed). Will there be an opportunity for LCGB to use this route from
India in the future?
RAILTOURS AND DIVERSIONS OVER NON-PASSENGER LINES
This is provided as a service to members and details must be checked with the organisers.
Germany/Czech Republic – Ebersbach to Rumburk shuttles
OstSächsische EisenbahnFreunde (OSEF) are running four train pairs from Löbau to Rumburk and back on
Friday 3 April using the otherwise closed short border crossing from Ebersbach to Rumburk. Price €20.
Timings and booking at http://www.osef.de/sonderfahrten/00000121 or email: [email protected]
Poland - Diversion at Katowice on freight lines
From 8 to 24 April IC TLK 38201 ("Przemyślanin") is diverted between Katowice station and Chorzów
Batory, running via Katowice Ligota ( reverse) - podg. Panewnik - podg. Radoszowy and podg. Hajduki.
The train is the 16:15 Przemyśl – Szczecin and calls Katowice at 23:34.
Tunisia - Metre gauge railtour 16 - 24 May 2015
Discovery Trains are running a one-off special enthusiast train over virtually the entire metre gauge
network of Tunisia including many freight lines, using the MAN "Presidential" rolling stock dating from the
60's. A one week ‘dry run’ with VIPs has just successfully concluded. Plenty of sightseeing built into the
itinerary. Minimum 20 participants, maximum 30. Go/No go decision date 18 April.
Sunday 17th May Tunis to Le Kef
Monday 18th May Le Kef - freight-only branch to Tadjerouine then on to Haïdra, Kasserine and Sbeïtla,
well beyond the current terminus of passenger operations in Khalaa Kasbah.
Tuesday 19th May Sbeitla via Kasserine, as far as Majel Bel Abbes. Coach transfer to Gafsa.
Wednesday 20th May Specially chartered SNCFT train (VIP coach and 2nd class carriage). A day's
exploration of the lines south of Moularès, including Metlaoui-Reydeyef - via the spectacular Selja Gorge -
and the branch to Tozeur then Gafsa.
Thursday 21st May From Gafsa on freight-only Sehib branch then Gabès and the freight-only line via El
Friday 22nd May Gabès through El Djem and M'Saaken for freight-only branch to Moknine and Sousse.
Back to Tunis.
Saturday 23rd May. Tunis to Bir Kassaa and on to the freight line to La Goulette then return to visit Sidi
Fath Allah workshops. For full details of the itinerary and how to book, follow this link:-
special or telephone 0870 8200358. Well known UK enthusiast Jeff Hawken has been instrumental in
setting up the tour, and will accompany it. Any questions email: [email protected] Price,
excluding flights, for train, meals, transport and accommodation from £1530.
BL I – orth America Extra March 2015
This BL I Extra represents an occasional e-newsletter which makes use of material
gathered for BL I but in total too voluminous to actually use as it would virtually fill the
normal international supplement. Items have been placed in a different number series to
avoid confusion in referencing for paper only BL I subscribers.
[A1] Canada – Union Pearson Express electrification
The Ontario Environment Minister has ruled that no environmental assessment will be needed to electrify
the Union Pearson Express (UPX) route linking Toronto's Union Station and Lester B. Pearson International
Airport. The decision has cheered Ontario passenger rail advocates who say the route should have been
planned for electrified service from the outset. Union Pearson Express is scheduled to open for service this
summer, in time for the Pan Am Games. Sumitomo diesel multiple-unit trains will operate on the line. Still
unresolved, however, is funding for electrifying the line. But the electrification of the Kitchener GO Transit
route toward the airport that will be used by UPX is widely expected to be the first phase of the overall
electrification of the GO Transit network managed by Metrolinx, the public transportation agency
overseeing the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
[A2] USA – Narrow gauge museum to remain in Portland until 2017
The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum will remain on Portland’s eastern promenade for at least
another year, after its new landlord agreed to a lease. The 2-foor gauge museum plans to use this time to
move its operation to Gray ( about 25 miles away) to allow the 10 acre waterfront property to be
developed. The museum has much of the rolling stock of the old Edaville Railroad in Massachusetts, most
of which came from Maine’s fabled “two-footers”, the Bridgton & Harrison and the Sandy River & Rangeley
Lakes railroads. It operates on about 1.5 miles of track on the Casco Bay waterfront, offering seasonal rides
and the popular Polar Bear Express around the Christmas Holiday. More at www.mainenarrowgauge.org
[A3] USA - Environmental clean-up could end Duluth tourist train
The pending Superfund clean-up of the former U.S. Steel Duluth Works site in Duluth’s Morgan Park
neighbourhood threatens to stop the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad’s operations temporarily, and
perhaps even end them forever according to the Duluth News Tribune. The LS&M is a volunteer-run non-
profit organization that offers summer train rides along a riverfront route from West Duluth to Gary-New
Duluth and the Oliver Bridge, not to be confused with the North Shore Scenic Railroad, based at the depot
in downtown Duluth. Work on the U.S. Steel site will probably not begin until this autumn at the earliest,
but it will necessitate the removal of the tracks for two to three years. The railroad is not opposed to this,
but it is unclear whether the tracks will be replaced. If not, the railroad only has a mile of track, which is
not viewed as sufficient. Part of the problem for the railroad is that the corridor and rails it uses actually
belong to the city of Duluth, and they currently seem committed to bicycle and pedestrian use of the
[A4] USA - Hawaii’s sugar cane train may return
A consortium that includes community leaders and a prominent West Maui businessman plans to reopen
the Lahaina, Kaanapali & Pacific Railroad tourist railroad. After operating for 45 years, the railroad made its
last run on 1 August 2014, after the former owners of the railroad said it was no longer viable. Known as
the “Sugar Cane Train” the railroad has carried more than five million passengers since 1969. Local
businessman Craig Hill, after hearing about preliminary ideas in the media to bring the train back, began
exploring possibilities with other like-minded community members. He is now the new owner of the
railroad. “The tracks and train were just days from being removed and re-sold elsewhere, and I’m just one
of so many who did not want to see this iconic symbol of Lahaina and the rich history it embodied
disappear,” Hill says. He hopes to have the train back in service in several months and will continue to
work with a local group of volunteers who helped spearhead public efforts to resurrect the train. Opened
in 1969, the three-foot gauge, 6-mile railroad follows a stretch of right-of-way originally constructed to
haul sugar cane from the sugar plantation fields in Kaanapali to the Pioneer Mill in Lahaina. The railroad
crosses a 325-foot curved wooden trestle whose elevation yields panoramic views of neighboring islands
and the West Maui Mountains.
[A5] USA - Everybody wants the 75th Street corridor project
Metra and several major freight railroads recently stressed the need to advance the 75th Street Corridor
Improvement Project (CIP) in Chicago, where freight-rail demand is expected to nearly double over the
next 30 years. The largest component of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency
(CREATE) program, the $1 billion CIP is designed to relieve congestion at tracks on Chicago's south side
that cause significant delays for Metra, Amtrak and six freight railroads. Lines operated by CSX
Transportation, Norfolk Southern Railway, Union Pacific Railroad, the Belt Railway Co. of Chicago, CN and
Canadian Pacific converge in an area just north of 75th Street, causing choke points at three rail-to-rail
crossings. The CIP calls for realigning and building tracks, and constructing bridges to eliminate the choke
points. About 90 freight trains move through the area daily. The project will be particularly beneficial for
Metra, which operates 30 trains each weekday on the SouthWest Service Line (SWS) that traverse the
corridor on freight tracks between Chicago Union Station and Manhattan, Illinois. The trains must pass
through two of the rail-to-rail crossings known as the Belt and Forest Hill junctions. The project includes
the addition of a second track to a nearly two-mile section of the SWS that now has only one and a bridge
connection between the SWS and Rock Island Line near 75th Street. This accomplishes two things. First,
SWS trains no longer would conflict with freight trains between 75th Street and downtown. Second, SWS
trains would terminate at LaSalle Street Station instead of Union Station, which would free up some
capacity at Union Station. The CREATE program involves 70 projects designed to separate freight and
passenger trains at six key junctions in the Chicago area, increase rail capacity, boost train speed and
reliability, and eliminate 25 grade crossings.
[A6] USA - A Brief History of the U.S. Navy Railroad at Pearl Harbour Hawaii
The construction of the Pearl Harbour Naval complex began in 1908 and included a Navy construction
railway component. The first 0-4-0 Porter was acquired in 1909 along with some number of dump cars.
Civilian contractors built much of the yard and the construction of the "centrepiece" of the yard, Dry Dock
No. 1, was supported by the contractor's rail system. All other construction was supported by the Navy's
rail system. All this was temporary until 1911 when the Navy Yard was sufficiently developed to begin
construction of the first permanent rail system connecting the shops and repair facilities to the piers and
wharfs. Concurrent with the Navy Yard construction, a Naval Magazine was developed on Kuahua Island,
within Pearl Harbour, which had its own independent rail system using a compressed air Porter locomotive
and a few box and flat cars. In 1913 construction of a 200,000 ton coaling plant was started. The rail
equipment of the coaling plant consisted of three Vulcan standard gauge locomotives, fifteen Oliver 20-yd.
air operated dump cars and six locomotive cranes. This was the only standard gauge operation on Oahu.
The order to Vulcan also included one 3-foot gauge locomotive for the Shipyard. Freight cars were supplied
by Gregg and based on period photos other manufactures supplied cars as well but we have yet to locate
documented information. 1915 brought another narrow gauge locomotive to the shipyard as well as two
narrow gauge locomotive cranes. By 1918 when construction of the Submarine Base was begun the
Shipyard railroad was connected via a causeway to Kuahua Island. Although construction continued at
Pearl Harbour throughout the 20's and 30's not much changed with regard to the railroad. A little more
track was added, another locomotive was acquired and it is assumed more freight equipment, As the Pearl
Harbour complex continued to grow the Naval Magazine on Kuahua Island became both too small to
service the fleet and a liability. Having such a large quantity of munitions so close to the repair and port
facilities was not best practice. In 1933 the Navy moved the magazine to the landlocked Lualualei Valley
and established an ammunition depot at West Loch, away from Pearl Harbour. These two facilities were
each provided with one 35-ton Atlas diesel electric locomotive and a few box and flat cars from Kopple.
The compressed air Porter was transferred to West Loch along with a few overhauled box and flat cars. In
the late 1930's the Army transferred two narrow gauge steam locomotive to the Navy Yard that had been
used by the 41st Coast Artillery (Railway). The Yard also received a new 35-ton Davenport Diesel
Mechanical in 1940. These three Navy facilities were connected by the Oahu Railway and Land Company
(OR&L) who handled all moves between them. The same applied to the Army facilities. That was the status
quo until the morning of 7 December 1941. Following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbour both the Navy
and the Army found their railroad resources woefully inadequate to prosecute a war. The United States
Mainland was scoured for useable narrow gauge equipment and soon equipment from the D&RGW, C&C,
F&CC, SP, EBT and others began to arrive. The government also commandeered a large lot of cars built for
a South American railroad by Pullman Standard and diverted them to Hawaii. Large orders were placed
with various manufacturers for locomotives and all types of freight cars. By war's end 23 new diesel
locomotives had been received by the Navy as well as hundreds of freight cars of all types. At the end of
the war, the OR&L, having operated 24/7 was simply "used up". Unable to compete with trucks using the
new roads built by the military, the OR&L abandoned its main line on 31 December 1947 effectively cutting
off service to all the military installations. The Navy, however, took an option for $1.00 on the tracks
between Lualualei, West Loch and Pearl Harbour and continued to operate between these three locations
until about 1954 when a tsunami destroyed a junction at Waikele cutting off Pearl Harbour. Operations
continued between Lualualei and West Loch until 1972 when all rail operations ceased. Three Navy diesel
locomotives survive in operation at the Hawaiian Railway Society as well as a number of ammunition
boxcars. Everything else, as is said, is history.
http://www.hawaiianrailway.com/ Reproduced with permission from the Hawaiian Railway Society.
[A7] USA - Abandoned and Buried: The World’s First Subway Tunnel and the Trapped Locomotive
In 1844, the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel was the first subway tunnel built, but then it was sealed off in 1861.
More than 100 years later, one man is trying to honour the tunnel's past, as well as one of the trains that
was left behind inside the tunnel. Deep beneath the streets of one of Brooklyn’s busiest intersections lies
an abandoned, sealed off tunnel. Within the tunnel is buried a 150-year-old secret. But if the FDNY and
Department of Transportation (DOT) have anything to say about it, that secret will never see the light of
day. That secret could be a variety of different things, but after a magnetic scan of the tunnel was
conducted recently, the general belief is that the “buried metal object” is most likely a 20-foot-long 178-
year-old train – a 1830s-era Hicksville locomotive. It’s possible; however, that we’ll never know for certain
what is inside the Atlantic Avenue tunnel located in the Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill neighbourhoods
of the New York City borough. One thing that is for certain though is that the closed-off underground
tunnel, built in 1844, was the world’s first subway tunnel (acknowledged as a Guinness World Record),
predating Boston’s Tremont Street subway (1897), Manhattan’s Beach Pneumatic Subway (1869) and the
London Underground’s first subway (1863). To understand why such a historical landmark is off limits and
the train will never be unearthed, we must start at the beginning. When the half-mile tunnel (2,570-feet
long) was built in the mid-19th Century, its primary purpose was to transport passengers between Boston
and New York City as part of the Long Island Railroad. According to an article on The Verge, the traffic at
the “Court Street and Atlantic Avenue intersection was so thick with pedestrians that a tunnel had to be
dug so the locomotive could travel under it without killing any children or livestock.” Bob Diamond, the
founder of the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association and individual who has made it his life’s mission to
reopen the tunnel and locate the hidden train, says he now has scientific proof that one of the trains that
used to run along this stretch of track is almost certainly buried deep within the tunnel, most likely blocked
off in an area that he has yet to explore – and likely will never get the opportunity. The 1836 steam
locomotive was supposedly used to move dirt, but when the train broke down it was decided that it wasn’t
worth it to repair. Therefore, the train was removed from service in 1848 and set aside (perhaps even
buried inside the tunnel) where it was forgotten. In 1858, the borough of Brooklyn passed a law that made
it illegal to operate a steam locomotive within city limits. As a result of the act, three years later, the tunnel
was closed and different sections of the tunnel were sealed off, effectively sealing the long-forgotten
locomotive in one of the closed chambers. For the next 100-plus years, the tunnel went largely unused and
unnoticed. There are legends about the tunnel being used during the 1920s for bootlegging and growing
mushrooms, as well as a place the FBI visited in the 1940s while searching for Nazis. Outside of those few
periods of occupancy, the tunnel sat undisturbed until 1980 when a 20-year-old Diamond discovered the
hidden tunnel after hearing about it on a radio show that was discussing a new book called The Cosgrove
Report, which proposed that John Wilkes Booth hid bits of his diary in this tunnel. With his curiosity
piqued, Diamond, who was an engineering student, set off to find the location of the tunnel … and the
long-lost locomotive. After eight months of research, Diamond had an idea as to where the tunnel might
be. There was one problem though. There was only one entrance … through a manhole cover located in a
busy intersection. He convinced the local gas company to open the manhole cover for him to go below
ground. He lowered himself down a rickety ladder into darkness where he was forced to move around on
his hands and knees. According to the The Verge, “He climbed into the two-foot gap under the street and
crawled for about 50 feet until he reached what appeared to be a dead end. He noticed, however, that the
dirt didn’t quite reach the ceiling. Just beyond reach was a concrete wall plugged up with bricks and
stones, which he broke through using a crowbar. Suddenly, cold air rushed in from the massive chamber
on the other side.” Diamond had just discovered the tunnel that had been sealed off almost 120 years
before. He was standing in a room that was 2,570-feet long, 21-feet wide and 17-feet tall. The ceiling of
the tunnel was just 11 feet below the street above. He dropped out of college, foregoing an engineering
career, and decided to dedicate his life to preserving the tunnel he had just rediscovered and for which
many people considered him somewhat of a local hero. Ever since he first crawled into the tunnel, he has
always had two goals when it comes to the Atlantic Avenue tunnel: 1. to restore the tunnel where it can be
part of a new trolley line and house a museum on the tunnel’s history, and 2. to find and restore the long-
lost train. For the first two years after its discovery, Diamond and several of his colleagues spent many
waking hours in the tunnel making it presentable and safe, even building a staircase to help people get
down to the floor of the large room. Then, in 1982, he began leading tours in the tunnel, where tourists
had to climb down through the manhole one at a time. He led tours up until 2010, when the NYPD and
DOT sent Diamond a letter saying that he had to stop giving tours for safety reasons. They felt the tours
were unsafe, despite the fact that in the 28 years that Diamond had been giving tours no one had ever
been hurt. He was also informed that if he ever set foot back inside the tunnel, he’d be arrested. What
was probably more frustrating for Diamond was that he had a contract with the DOT that allowed him to
do this work, and his Brooklyn Historic Railway Association even had a $2.6 million grant from the city to
restore the tunnel and build a museum honouring the history of the Atlantic Avenue tunnel. The letter,
however, undid all of this. This wasn’t the first time Diamond was on the opposite side of the law.
Previously, he had been cited for placing three barriers around the manhole cover on Atlantic Avenue;
therefore, blocking traffic, and trying to build a second entrance to the tunnel without proper permits.
Diamond filed a lawsuit against both the FDNY and DOT to regain access to the tunnel, as well as $35
million in damages. Unfortunately for Diamond, all but one minor charge were dismissed. He and his
attorney are appealing the original decisions. The case is still ongoing. However, to put somewhat of a
permanent lid on the matter, the city sealed shut the manhole cover – the only access point to the tunnel.
[A8] USA - Has a locomotive been buried in Norwalk Harbour for 162 years? We may soon find out
When the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) replaces or rehabilitates the Walk Bridge
over the Norwalk River, the work may involve removing pylons planted in the harbour bed in the 1890s.
And maybe also an old locomotive? On the morning of 8 May 1853, a train travelling over an earlier bridge
at the location plunged into Norwalk Harbor. "There's no historical account of it ever having been
removed, so the general consensus is the locomotive is still down there," said Task Force Co-Chairman
Michael G. Mushak. In 1853, the worst accident in the history of American railroading to date occurred
when an eastbound train hurtled over the open draw of the earlier bridge at the Walk Bridge site, killing 48
people. The train cars involved in the accident were made of wood and would have rotted away if left
underwater in the harbor. The locomotive, made of iron and steel, is another matter.
"I would assume to clear navigation they would have salvaged the engine," Bloom said. "But I never read
anything about a salvage." The 12 May 1853 edition of "The Farmer's Cabinet," which was published in
Amherst, N.H., from 1802 to 1900, sheds light into what happened. The story, as posted at
http://www3.gendisasters.com, states that the railroad drawbridge had been opened to allow a steamer
to pass beneath. "The draw being thus open, the advancing train leaped into the chasm. The engine went
first, and was buried in the mud so deep that at low water it was out of sight," reads the account.
The current bridge, also known as the Walk Bridge, was built in 1896 and carries Amtrak and Metro-North
Railroad's New Haven Line over the Norwalk River. The bridge failed twice within an eight-day period last
year, prompting ConnDOT to move forward with an aggressive plan to replace or rehabilitate the structure
over a roughly three-month period starting in 2017. Design options were laid out during a public
information meeting at Norwalk City Hall last Tuesday evening. As the bridgework proceeds, ConnDOT will
get a better handle on what's below the water and mud.
[A9] USA - St. Louis Loop Trolley sets groundbreaking date
12 March 2015 was the groundbreaking date set by supporters of the St. Louis Loop Trolley, making the
beleaguered project a more likely reality after several setbacks and challenges to the proposed 2.2-mile
route. Officials and advocates were invited to gather at 11:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time 12 March at a
politically symbolic location, Limit Ave. at Delmar Blvd. in University City, Mo., "where the City of St. Louis,
University City, & St. Louis County meet." The $43 million route includes 10 stations (up from 9 originally
proposed), running from Forest Park to University City, including a stop at the Missouri History Museum.
The route would connect with two Metrolink light rail transit (LRT) stops at Forest Park and Delmar Loop.
Streetcar supporters had hoped to begin construction last summer. Two GOMACO-built vintage trolleys
acquired from Portland's TriMet will provide the service.
[A10] USA - Galveston streetcar may return
Galveston, Texas City Council has approved proceeding to re-establish the cities 6.8-mile diesel trolley car
operation, which was discontinued in 2008. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds,
insurance proceeds, and budgetary cash reserves will be used to reactivate the line, with service to begin
sometime in the summer of 2017. The decision follows years of debate over whether to restore the
operation, known formally (if inaccurately) as the Galveston Island Trolley, which suffered from increasing
maintenance costs and then flood damage from Hurricane Ike. The operation, including four diesel-
powered streetcars, is owned by the city and was operated by Island Transit, which oversees the city's bus
system. Local media report the motivation for restoring the line was prosaic, and financial, and not a result
of more common goals such as transit-oriented development. Galveston was informed by the Federal
Transit Administration that it would have to return (or pay back) grant funds used to establish and expand
the trolley system since the 1980s if the city did not proceed with restoration, a move that would cost
Galveston more than $7 million, plus an additional $6 million in related costs.
[A11] USA - Orlando SunRail expansion faces delay
SunRail regional ("commuter") train service expansions south of the current system into Florida's Osceola
County, and north to DeLand, face potential delays of at least six months. Due to delays in securing $126
million in federal funding. Apparently SunRail has not provided sufficient information on expansion plans,
leading to SunRail being omitted from any mention within President Obama's proposed fiscal year 2016
budget. SunRail needs $91 million to extend services to Osceola and $35 million to reach DeLand. The two
extensions would nearly double the length of the system to 61 miles. SunRail began initial operations on 1
May 2014, serving 12 stations along 32 miles stretching from DeBary, Florida, to Sand Lake Road, near
Orlando International Airport.
[A12] USA - Sacramento streetcar clears first TOD vote
By a roughly 2-to-1 majority, property owners along a proposed streetcar route in Sacramento, California
have approved plans to fund $30 million toward the cost of the 3.3-mile, $150 million project.
The vote is seen as an indication for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) that local funding and
support is solid. Under President Obama's fiscal year 2016 budget proposal, announced earlier this month,
FTA would cover roughly 50% of the streetcar capital cost or $75 million, subject to matching funds.
Supporters include the National Basketball Association Sacramento Kings, who with partners plan to build
and arena, hotel, and other amenities to be served by the line. The line would run from West Sacramento
points across Tower Bridge into Sacramento, the state capital, serving numerous business and retail
neighbourhoods as well as interfacing with Sacramento Regional Transit District light rail transit service
and Amtrak intercity trains.
[A13] USA - Hoosier State train to stop running 1 April
The Hoosier State is an Amtrak passenger train that provides service on a 196-mile (315 km) route from
Chicago to Indianapolis. It runs on the four days each week that the Cardinal does not run (departs Chicago
Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; departs Indianapolis Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday).
This gives the Chicago-to-Indianapolis market a daily rail service. However, the daily service will be cut to
tri-weekly on April 1st, 2015, when the Hoosier State is scheduled to be discontinued. The announcement
follows a Federal Railroad Administration decision that would require the state to serve as a railroad, even
though it owns no track or trains. This would add considerably to cost of operation.
Amtrak Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman said in a prepared statement that the service does not
have to end, and that Amtrak has offered to operate the train on a month-to-month basis. State officials
said they had been making progress in negotiating long-term agreements with rail providers Amtrak and
Iowa Pacific Holdings in an effort to preserve the service. Under the proposed arrangement, Amtrak would
serve as the primary operator, working with host railroads, providing train and engine crews and managing
reservation and ticketing. Iowa Pacific would have provided the train equipment, train maintenance,
onboard services and marketing. For those interested, the Hoosier state is Indiana – no-one really knows
how the nickname came about.
[A14] USA – Chicago Union station to get makeover
Amtrak has committed $12 million toward a $500 million, multiyear plan to overhaul Union Station in
downtown Chicago. The investment will pay for improvements that will address critical capacity and
service issues at Union Station, where about 120,000 passengers pass through daily. The work will include
planning and design for a larger passenger concourse, making safety improvements, enhancing
temperature controls and conducting necessary repairs to the station’s exterior facade, according to a
[A15] USA - Cincinnati ready to install overhead wire for new streetcar
The Cincinnati Streetcar project will reach a milestone this week ( March 2015) when the first segment of
overhead wire to power the train will be installed along Elm Street. The overhead contact system wire will
carry a 750-volt DC electric current produced by the traction power substations along the route. Cincinnati
is constructing the streetcar system's $147.8 million first phase, which will be 3.6-miles long and travel on
a loop from Second Street to Henry Street, just north of the Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine. When
completed, the streetcar will operate 18 hours a day, 365 days per year.
[A16] USA - Tunnel construction starts for Bay Area Rapid Transit extension in San Jose
A major intersection in San Jose, California closed for nine months from the beginning of the year to allow
construction of one of the most complex road crossings in the Santa Clara Valley Transportation
Authority's (VTA) future BART Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension project. Ultimately the BART system will
operate below the intersection though the final configuration of the intersection will remain at street level
for vehicles. This is one of 11 grade separations along the corridor that are required for a safe and efficient
BART system. The Silicon Valley Extension is the largest transportation construction project in Santa Clara
County's history. Now at the halfway point, the project is ahead of schedule and service is slated to begin
in fall 2017. The project involves a 16-mile extension of the existing Bay Area Rapid Transit system to San
Jose, Milpitas and Santa Clara.
[A17] USA - Atlanta initiates streetcar service
Atlanta officials officially launched the city's new electric streetcar on 30 December 2014. The service will
follow a 2.7-mile loop around downtown Atlanta. The long-awaited opening of the $98 million streetcar
system had experienced a number of delays. Originally, the line was slated to open in May 2013.