INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1241 19 SEPTEMBER 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
The new station at Vigo Urzáiz opened 18 April 2015 after closing for rebuilding on 28 August 2011. It has yet to realise
its full potential as services are mostly from Santiago de Compostela and A Coruña, so Vigo Guixar is equally important at
this time. The picture is taken from the steps of the adjacent multi-storey car park.
 Belgium – Museum line extends and a walking visit
The museum railway from Ciney to Spontin has been extended by 1000 metres to a point near Evrehailles-
Bauche station. Our informants visited the Chemin de Fer Du Bocq on Sunday 9 August. Rather than
approach from the usual Ciney end they walked from Yvoir to Evrehailles-Bauche, which is approximately
4km and takes about 45 mins. This part of the line will be quite spectacular when works are complete.
After leaving Yvoir the line goes through the Bocq gorge on a viaduct until it gets towards the edge of town
where it disappears into a fairly long tunnel, blocked off by locked gates at each end. Immediately after the
tunnel there is a station, Yvoir Carrieres and the platform is in good condition. The road, railway and river
follow a similar path all the way to Evrehailles-Bauche. Track is in situ, but overgrown with rotted sleepers.
At the road bridge on the Yvoir side of Bauche the rails are dated 1904. PFT must have surveyed the line as
they noted quite a number of freshly greased fishplates. At Evrehailles-Bauche the working line ends about
200-300 metres from the station. The station building is a restaurant 'Le Terminus' serving excellent food
and a reasonable range of standard beers. Over the winter PFT plan to extend the line into Evrehailles-
Bauche station and build a run round loop to eliminate top and tail operation.
 Belgium - Schuman-Josaphat Tunnel heralds changes in Brussels service
NMBS will launch a number of new suburban rail services in
Brussels before the end of the year as part of the new
Regional Express Network. This will be made possible by the
opening of the 1250 metre long Schuman-Josaphat tunnel
which will connect the former Josaphat marshalling yard in
Schaarbeek and the Brussels-Schuman railway station. The
tunnel will link line 161 (Brussels-Namur) just after Meiser
station and line 26 (Halle-Vilvoorde) at the
Cinquantenaire/Jubelpark tunnel just before Brussels-
Schuman station. The line will be numbered L161A. A new
station will also be opened near to the Mouterij Bridge in
Elsene and NMBS will also look at re-opening the Pannenhuis
rail station on the boundary between Molenbeek, Jette and
Laken. The new Pannenhuis station would be renamed and
would serve the Thurn and Taxis site that is home to offices, a
number of new homes and an events centre. The new
Arcaden station in Watermaal-Bosvoorde is due to open
during 2016. From the end of this year, inter-city services will
link Charleroi (Hainaut) to Zaventem Airport via the new
tunnel. Services between Leuven and Braine-Le-Comte will
also use the tunnel, as will services between Aalst and
Mechelen and between Geraardsbergen and Mechelen.
 Finland - Helsinki Tram system visited
The Helsinki tramway network commenced operations in 1881 and today comprises approximately 96km
of passenger lines with 13 different routes (or sub routes) and two additional special tramway operations,
the PUB Tram and the Museum Tram. The operational scope and hours of the operation of the 13 different
tram routes is well documented - see for instance https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helsinki_tram. Most
notable for the limited days or hours of operation of these are #1 10:00-15:00 approx. ; #4T over the
branch to the Katajanokka Ferry Terminal from 10:00-11:30 and 16:00-17:00 and #6T which traverses a
short connecting line each way between the Line 6 loop and Line 9. ALL routes have some element of
unique track including the two special operations. The PUB tram runs hourly 14:00-20:00 Mon-Sat in
summer from the single track loop just to the east of the main station. Apart from the long single track
anticlockwise loop from where it starts and terminates it also traverses the S-E curve in the vicinity of
Kalsaniemi Metro station and the E-S curve at the intersection of routes 8 and several N-S routes at Opera.
The tram itself is a Helsinki tram of 1959 rebuilt in 1995 as a PUB tram and has a toilet and TV screens that
provide a forward view from CCTV on board. The tables even have recesses into which beer glasses can be
placed to prevent spillage, and the technical details claim a range of 500 pints before refueling! The fare is
€9 but a beer costs another €6. The Museum Tram tram only runs at weekends in Summer (mid May to
end of August) see http://www.stadinratikat.fi/english/index.html, from Market Square between 10:00-
17:00 at approximately 20-30 minute intervals taking 20 minutes to complete a circuit which takes it over
the same rare curve as the PUB tram near Kalsaniemi but in the opposite direction and uniquely the E-S
curve off the line running in front of Senate Square back down into Market Place. The tram itself dates
from 1909 and hauls an open toast rack trailer from 1919 and the fare is €5. Incidentally the same web site
offers another tram for hire and claims "the whole Helsinki tram network is at your disposal!" Our member
wonders if they have ever heard of the BLS!?
 France - Velo Rail in France
Draisines are defined by Wikipedia as a light auxiliary rail vehicle, driven by service personnel, equipped to
transport crew and material necessary for the maintenance of railway infrastructure. Velo cycles are
draisines equipped with pedals by which one or two people can propel the velo rail in much the same way
as a bicycle. Sometimes referred to as rail cycling, the term draisine is widely used in Germany, whereas
velo rail is used in France. To the author’s knowledge there are none in the UK, but examples may be found
in the Scandinavian countries and scattered around the rest of Europe. They have three, or more often
four, steel wheels, the back two usually being driven independently by the two cyclists. Because the
standard of track required is comparatively low, much use is made of abandoned railway lines for velo rail
operations, particularly when gradients are easy. More steeply graded lines can be used for velorail in the
downhill direction, but in this case the effort of velocycling uphill may be exhausting or impossible. In this
case the velo rail units must be returned to the starting point by use of a powered rail vehicle. This is
normally either a DMU or
locomotive and coaches.
Velo cycles normally set off
in convoys, supposedly
trying to keep 20 to 100
metres apart to avoid
collisions, but once out of
sight of the staff this is
widely ignored, especially
since the velorails are fitted
with rubber buffer pads (or
similar) and collisions from
the rear are unlikely to
cause harm at sensible
Velorails ready for use at the old station at Bagnoles d’Lorne
At the far end of the line the velorail must be turned through 180 degrees for the return journey, and this
is accomplished either by four people lifting each corner or by a specially constructed turning device which
resembles a turntable. If a velo cycle is encountered coming in the opposite direction, then one of the velo
cycles must be lifted off the track out of the way. Rudimentary foot brakes allow regulation of speed.
Velorailing is popular, particularly on old railways with fine scenery, tall bridges, open views and historic
buildings, such as castles. For many incipient heritage operations it provides a chance to accumulate funds
for restoration of the track and the return, one day, of train services. L'association des Velorails de France
have a website promoting 45 different velorail operations at http://www.veloraildefrance.com/. The map
of sites and contact information from this is attached as a pdf. There are other velo rail operations in
France, but no complete listing exists – again, to the author’s knowledge. The Siede tour of Normandy in
May allowed a number of members the chance to pedal over several velorail lines. Whether self
propulsion over the rails counts as having ‘done’ the line is a technicality which will doubtless be debated,
but it is certainly fun, especially when the two cyclists on the velorail have different styles.
The BLS velorail is rapidly catching up with the unsuspecting IBSE velorail
On the velorail carrying four members of the Society the practice was for one pair to cycle outward and the
second pair to cycle back, the decision as to which way each pair would cycle usually being made (in
apparently diffident fashion) by a member who had cunningly studied the gradient profile of the line
beforehand. Pair A of the BLS velocycle comprised Mr Smoothie, who adopted a steady, sedate approach
to cycling with due regard to rules of the road, and his partner Mr Turbo. Mr Turbo’s approach was to
pedal hard, then coast for a while – which he claimed used less energy overall. Occasionally his eyes would
fix on the velocycle ahead with a maniacal gleam and he would accelerate rapidly. Mr Smoothie, once he
had recovered his poise, observed that Mr Turbo’s legs were now a blur and, looking forward, would
discover that the velocycle in front was approaching at a distressing speed, forcing him to apply the brake
before a collision which would probably have left the occupants with whiplash injuries. This was not well
received by Mr Turbo, who would mutter to himself for a while before ‘normal’ progress was resumed.
 Hungary - Budapest – Esztergom line reopens after modernisation
National passenger operator MÁV-Start restarted services on the modernised Budapest – Esztergom line
on 20 August. Renovation of the 53 km route lasted more than three years and cost HUF44.5bn, of which
85% was funded from EU sources. Electrification is around 18 months behind schedule and is expected to
be completed in 2017. The project included the construction of three new stations at Aranyvölgy, Szélhegy
and Vörösvárbánya, and platforms at other stations have been rebuilt to allow level boarding. The
Pilisvörösvár – Aquincum section has been doubled, and three new bridges and one underpass built to
eliminate level crossings. Following the rebuild, the journey time between Budapest Nyugati and
Esztergom stations has been reduced from 91 min to 86 min.
 Lithuania - The Aleksotas Funicular Railway in Kaunas
This funicular was closed for some years (including when your correspondent last visited in 2009) but has
been restored to use. It was built in 1935 and the hill it climbs affords good views over the city. It is located
at the end of the Vytautas bridge on the opposite bank from the city. Its operational hours on various web
sites vary but those displayed at the funicular itself (which he would tend to believe) are Tuesdays-Sundays
10:00-19:00 with a break for lunch 14:00-15:00. The fare was 1 Lita each way (about 58 euro cents),
meaning the woman who does the fare collection at the base station has a very large sack of small change,
or you can spend a few idle minutes rounding up all the coppers you might have so she can count it all!
Visiting on a Friday afternoon (actually arriving by taxi directly from the airport) in great weather found a
very bucolic scene, finance officer and bell ringer reading a novel and top station operator mending
bicycles between his infrequent duties of actually sending the cars up and down, considerably increased it
seemed by the round trip made by your correspondent! It is understood that despite restoration all the
equipment and cars remain original.
 Malta – To have a railway again?
In May the Maltese Minister of Transport announced that introducing a railway system was one of the
options the government was investigating to reduce congestion.
Malta’s only railway, the 12km metre gauge line from Valetta to Mtarfa, closed in 1931, but evidence of it
still remains and, together with a history of the railway, may be found at http://www.maltarailway.com/
 Netherlands - First train arrives at Rotterdam World Gateway
The first commercial freight train arrived at the Rotterdam World Gateway container storage and
transhipment terminal at Maasvlakte on 25 August. The train was operated by Rotterdam Rail Feeding on
behalf of Distri Rail and carried containers for various customers. There are direct services to
Ludwigshafen, Frankfurt and Duisburg, with connections to other destinations.
An RWG spokesperson said that this was a milestone in start-up of ‘the most advanced and most
automated container terminal in the world’, which opened in October 2014 and began 24/7 operation in
May. Containers can now be delivered to or collected from RWG by rail, road and barge. The rail terminal
has two rail cranes and six 750 m tracks where containers can be handled independently of the loading
and discharging of deep sea ships.
RWG is an international consortium comprising terminal operator DP World and shipping lines APL, MOL,
HMM and CMA CGM.
 Poland - Pleszew narrow gauge service sampled
BLNI1233.190 reported the commencement of regular services on the narrow gauge line between Pleszew
Miasto and Pleszow Wąskotorowy, where connections are made to main line trains. A visit was made in
July as a day trip from Poznan via Jarocin, though to avoid a too early start, the service was only sampled
one-way. Arriving at Pleszow main line station an inspection of the well patronised car park area revealed
no waiting taxis or buses to convey passengers the 3.5km into the town of Pleszew. This had been
anticipated, and a short walk to the station of Pleszow Wąskotorowy revealed the narrow gauge tracks
and, indeed, well used standard gauge tracks. The most direct walking route to Pleszew being down the
tracks, our member set off to walk there. The separate SG and NG tracks quickly converged to form dual
gauge, and after a short while, a parallel road provided an easier walking alternative to the tracks all the
way into Pleszew. Pleszew Miasto station was easily located – the walking time had been about 40
A view from the level crossing just beyond the station limits at Pleszew clearly shows the end of the narrow gauge tracks,
sidings of two gauges, the plinthed steam engine and the single platform with the narrow gauge DMU that will form the
11:15 to Pleszow Wąskotorowy. The large, disused station building is to the right of the DMU.
The narrow gauge tracks end at the road beyond the station, but the standard gauge tracks carry on over
the road a further 1.5km to Pleszew Wschod. Traffic however appears to come from large grain silos and a
mill in the town, reached by a backshunt after a few hundred metres. Two private owner locomotives were
stabled in the station area, so traffic must be reasonably healthy. The brick station building at Pleszew
Miasto was not in use, but beneath the row of trees providing welcome shade to the single platform, a
narrow gauge railbus was waiting to work the 11:15 departure to Pleszow Wąskotorowy. Stabled beyond
this was a little Lyd1 locomotive with a single coach – probably the standby set for the DMU. A plinthed
steam engine and an industrial shunter missing an engine completed a fascinating scene. The guard came
around before departure to sell tickets, and a single to Pleszow Wąskotorowy (the only station) cost our
member 3 Zloty, which is about 50 pence. The train left with about fifteen people. The operator of the
train, and also the freight services is SKPL Cargo. The journey takes about ten minutes and allows
sufficient time to walk to the mainline station (about a minute) and purchase onward tickets from the
ticket office. Pleszow Wąskotorowy station building remains, but is not in use.
There is no narrow gauge platform at Pleszow Wąskotorowy, so the passengers on the 11:25 arrival from Pleszow
disembark onto the ballast. A standard gauge platform remains by the disused station building and the standard gauge
tracks on this platform continue to a junction with the main PKP line north of the PKP station.
The standard gauge tracks carry on a short distance towards the large brick built water tower to a north
facing junction with the main line to Jarocin. This is therefore, more a standard gauge railway than a
narrow gauge railway, and left our member believing there was scope for another visit using standard
gauge tracks – though doubtless with a railtour.
 Poland - Pomeranian Metropolitan Railway opens
Services on the Pomorska Kolej Metropolitalna line serving Gdańsk airport began on 1 September,
following inauguration celebrations including steam-hauled trains on 30 August.
The new line is owned by PKM, a dedicated company established by Pomorskie voivodship. Branching from
the existing network at Gdańsk Wrzeszcz, it uses the alignment of an 18 km single-track line to Gdańsk
Osowa which was severely damaged in World War II and then used to train soldiers to destroy rail
infrastructure. This has been rebuilt as double-track, with a diversion to serve the airport. There are eight
stations, and the 41 structures include a 940 m viaduct at the airport.
The voivodship bought seven three-car and three two-car Pesa DMUs for 114m złoty to operate the PKM
service. These are supplemented by three older Newag 220/221 DMUs which the voivodship already
owned. The operating contract was awarded to SKM w Trójmieście, which runs the existing commuter
services linking Gdańsk, Sopot and Gdynia. The initial service comprises shuttles from Gdańsk Wrzeszcz to
the airport and Osowa. Through services from Gdańsk’s main station, Gdańsk Główny, to Gdynia via the
airport are scheduled to start on 1 October. Electrification of the line is planned, with an EMU fleet to be
acquired and the DMUs redeployed elsewhere.
 Poland - Szczecin extends right bank tram network
Regular services on a new tram line on the right bank of the River Odra in Szczecin began on 29 August,
ready for the start of the new school year and two days after the inauguration ceremony. The population
on the right bank has increased to 80 000 since the former tram service in that part of the city ceased in
1945, and the Pionierów Miasta Szczecin bridge which opened in 2003 was built with provision for trams.
The first phase comprises 4 km of double-track line with four stops from the Basen Górniczy loop to ul
Turkusowa. This is served by extensions of existing routes 2, 7 and 8. As with the rest of the city’s network,
the extension is designed for single-sided unidirectional trams. The new line is fully segregated and
designed for operation at speeds of up 70 km/h, giving a 15 min journey time compared to rush-hour road
journey times of around 30 min. The 2.9 km second phase with four stops is to be built under the 2014-20
budget. To operate the extended network, Tramwaje Szczecińskie had purchased 22 five-section Pesa
Swing trams at a cost of 150m złoty.
 Spain - Mayor to get Vélez-Málaga to Torre del Mar tramway reopened?
The €30 million tram line which goes the four kilometres between Vélez-Málaga and Torre del Mar has
been closed since June 2012 after the previous administration claimed it was economically unsustainable
without the participation of the Junta de Andalucía. However there is a new mayor now and he has
promised to reopen the tramway service. First they are studying how much it will cost to repair the current
infrastructure, neglected for three years.
 Switzerland – A member’s experiences with a three day Swiss Pass
A perhaps less fruitful 3 days of Swisspass this year, compared to last, and this year our member wasn’t
phoned in the middle to be told he was a grandfather! One disappointment was the continuing failure of
the link between the Durchmesserlinie and Zürich-Altstetten to open, because of the remedial works
needed. One consequence of the works is that a number of IC long distance trains reported as using the
new platforms are not doing so, at least as far as the indicator boards were concerned during his travels.
Prior to starting, he had had a tip from a Swiss contact that the Basel S3 between Porrentruy and Olten
often takes, from Basel SBB to Muttenz, an unusual route, to avoid the heavily used main lines. It leaves
Basel through the Wolf goods yard and then takes a burrowing connection (used by freight from France) to
reach the Muttenz yards access line. Then it emerges again to platforms 4 and 5 in Muttenz station. Sadly,
on the day he didn’t appear to do the route described. All the freight sidings and loco stabling (Wolf yard?)
as he came out of Basel HB seemed to be on the right of the train, not left, and he certainly did no
underpass. If anything they went over the main tracks by a flyover, which seems to be shown on his old
Schweers and Wall, and certainly went into the fringes of Muttenz Yard, followed by platform 4 at
Muttenz. However, the day was not wasted, as on all previous Basel-Olten journeys he had been on long
distance/express trains, not locals. This time he did for the first time the diveunder between the
Hauenstein Basis tunnel and platforms 10/11 at Olten, and also confirmed both sides of the separated
junction before the Adler Tunnel. He also duly did the Effretikon flyover on the way back to Konstanz.
The second day was spent to-ing and fro-ing between Zürich HB and Oerlikon and he thinks he has now
done all the possible routes between the Durchmesserlinie (see BLNI 1202.053) and Oerlikon. He also
discovered the reason for last year's "hole" where platforms 5 and 6 should have been, because this year it
was where platforms 3 and 4 were being re-built!
On the 3rd day, he simply used the pass to get to the Verkershaus (the Swiss Museum of Transport) and
enjoy half-price admission. However he wasn’t sure what to make of it! Lots of interesting exhibits, but
rather crammed in, and he couldn't find anything like a catalogue book in the shop, like the ones his wife
and he invariably bring back from exhibitions at the British Museum, National Gallery or British Library. So
he had to content himself with 40+ pics on his mobile phone! It was not until he returned that he became
aware of the new tunnels at Sierre – and suspects there’s another in that area that’s been built since he
did Brig-Martigny in 2002.
REST OF THE WORLD
 Canada – Edmonton northern Metro Line opened
Services on the second light rail route in Edmonton commenced on 6 September, when the Metro Line
serving the north of the city was inaugurated.
Built at a cost of C$665m, around $90m below budget, the 10 km Metro Line diverges from the existing
Capital Line at Churchill and heads west in tunnel to MacEwan University before surfacing and turning
north to serve the Royal Alexandra Hospital and Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. Construction
was completed last year, but opening had been delayed by problems with the installation of new
signalling. Metro Line LRVs are currently operating on line-of-sight north of MacEwan, at a maximum
speed of 25 km/h. This has extended the journey time between Churchill and NAIT to 14 min rather than
the 7 min originally envisaged.
Metro Line services share tracks with the existing route south of Churchill; most are currently continuing to
the southern terminus at Century Park, although some turn back at Health Sciences station. With operator
Edmonton Transit System limited to 5 min headways through the central area, every third train will run to
NAIT with the other two serving the Capital Line to Clareview in the northeast. To compensate for the
reduced frequency, Capital Line trains have been extended from four to five LRVs, while the Metro Line
trains are running as three-car sets. Once the new signalling is commissioned, Metro Line trains will turn
back at Health Sciences and both routes will operate at a 5 min frequency to give a 2½ min headway
between there and Churchill.
In the longer term, the city is hoping to extend the Metro Line north from NAIT to Castle Downs and then
west to a park and ride interchange at the 153 Street Transit Centre near the boundary with the
neighbouring city of St Albert.
 China - High speed links to the northeast completed
A 210 km rail link to the North Korean border town of Dandong was opened for revenue service on 1
September. This is the first of two high speed lines serving the border region that are scheduled to open
this year. Under construction since 2010, the 207 km Shenyang – Dandong line will cut journey times from
3½ h to just over 60 min, helping to boost economic competitiveness in the region.
Facing North Korea across the Yalu Jiang, towards the southern end of the border, Dandong is the gateway
for around 80% of the trade between the two countries, according to Xinhua. One of three special
economic zones developed in North Korea with Chinese support is located at nearby Hwanggumpyong
Island, and a new bridge across the river has recently been completed.
Further north, the 361 km Jilin – Hunchun line is expected to open for traffic on 1 October. Designed for
250 km/h operation, this route is an eastern extension of the 111 km Changchun – Jilin line inaugurated in
January 2011. Requiring 115 bridges and viaducts totalling 91 km as well as 85 tunnels, the line will shorten
the distance between the two cities by around 40%. It will serve nine stations, including Dunhua, Antuxi
and Tumen, and is expected to attract many visitors as it runs through a particularly scenic part of the
country. Located on the River Tumen in the Korean-speaking Yanbian autonomous prefecture of Jilin
province, Hunchun lies in a narrow corridor between Russia and North Korea. This has encouraged the
development of cross-border trade in recent years as a gateway to much of northeast Asia, including traffic
between China and Japan. A 40 km conventional rail link between Hunchun and Makhalino in Russia was
completed in 1999 but services were suspended five years later; the link was reopened in 2013 following
upgrading. However, the city with a population of around 220 000 has not previously been served by
passenger trains, which terminated at Tumen, around 70 km to the west.
 China – Northernmost PDL opens in Heilongjiang
The country’s most northerly passenger-dedicated line opened for revenue service on 17 August,
connecting the two principal cities in Heilongjiang province, Harbin and Qiqihar. Operating at up to
250 km/h, the high speed trains have cut the fastest journey time between the cities from 3 h to 85 min.
Under construction since 2009, the 286 km line has intermediate stations at Harbin Bei, Zhaodong, Anda,
Daqing Dong, Daqing Xi, Taikang and Hongqiying Dong. It is expected to carry around 8 million passengers
a year. The route is operated with a fleet of 28 CRH5A trainsets which have been modified to cope with the
region’s severe winter conditions, where temperatures can fall as low as -40°C. Average temperatures for
January are reported to be -19.2°C in Qiqihar and -18.3°C in Harbin.
 India - Prime Minister opens Delhi metro extension to Faridabad
Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened the 13.9 km southern extension of Delhi metro Line 6 (Violet) from
Badarpur to Escorts Mujesar in the satellite city of Faridabad on 6 September. This takes the metro over
the border from the capital territory into the state of Haryana. Revenue services began at 16.00. Trains run
every 6 min 40 sec during the 08:00-11:00 and 17:00-20:00 peak periods, and every 7.5 minutes off peak.
Ridership is expected to reach 195,000 passengers/day by the end of the year.
Running alongside an existing Indian Railways main line, the extension is elevated on 27 m precast
concrete beams. The section crossing National Highway 2 had to be built while minimising disruption to
traffic, and construction also required moving existing electricity supply grid infrastructure. There are nine
elevated stations with footbridges, lifts and escalators, and a depot at Ajronda. The station and depot
roofs are equipped with SunEdison solar power systems which are expected to generate 2.5 GWh/year.
A further 3.2 km extension of Line 6 to NCB Colony and Ballabhgarh is scheduled to open by 2017. At the
northern end of the route, an extension from ITO to Kashmere Gate will take Line 6 to a total length of
46.6 km with 34 stations.
 Japan - Hiroshima streetcar, A-bomb survivor restored to original livery
Of the Model 650 streetcars of Hiroshima Electric Railway Company (or "Hiroden") introduced in 1942,
three units are still in running condition. Car 653 has recently been restored to its original 1940s livery. This
car operated until 30 August on weekends and national holidays on a round trip between JR Hiroshima
Station and Hiroden Nishi-hiroshima Station, which passes in front of the iconic Atomic Bomb Dome.
Documentary footage on the testimony of A-bomb survivors and the city’s postwar recovery is shown by
monitors inside the tramcar.
 Malaysia – No through services to Singapore
Malayan Railway (KTM) has decided to terminate all long-distance passenger trains in Johor Bahru and
introduce a shuttle to Singapore instead. Long-distance passenger trains operated by KTM from
Butterworth, Kuala Lumpur and Gemas no longer cross the causeway to reach the international transfer
station at Woodlands in northern Singapore. In their place a commuter shuttle service of seven round trips
a day, with a 5-minute journey time, has been introduced which only operate during the morning and
evening peak periods. Consequently the shuttle trains do not connect with the long-distance services.
 USA - Heartland Flyer diversion in Alliance, Texas
It is reported that the former ATSF line through the outskirts of Alliance, Texas was to be permanently
severed during the Labor Day (7 September) holiday weekend. Portions of the present line will stay in
service to handle several local facilities, but the route will no longer be a through route. Thereafter, all
through trains (including Amtrak's Heartland Flyer) will use the newer route slightly to the west, past the
Alliance intermodal terminal (see Mike Walker's SPV atlas, page TX-22). The section affected is between
South Haslet (not West Haslet as shown on TX-22) and Lambert - about 8.5 miles.
 USA - NASA Railroad reaches the end of its line
In April, the Florida East Coast Railway pulled NASA locomotives No. 1 and No. 3 from Kennedy Space
Center on their way to new homes. Their departure closed another chapter in the story of the space
shuttle program's retirement. One of the trains' primary responsibilities was to haul large solid rocket
booster segments from the Jay Jay yard near Mims, Florida, across the river to the Launch Complex 39
area. But with only two launches certain to use those boosters, planned for 2018 and 2022, and then at
most one flight a year to follow, NASA decided there was no need to keep its own railroad active. The
NASA Railroad cost $1.3 million a year to operate and maintain by the end of the shuttle program. The
space agency had already given away Locomotive No. 2 last year, to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in
Miami. Although the trains have departed, NASA will continue to maintain about 17 miles of a rail network
that once spanned 38 miles, branching out to KSC's two launch pads and to Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station. Meanwhile, an environmental study is also looking at the impacts of a potential extension of KSC's
rail line to Port Canaveral, which would increase traffic on the line.
On 22 August, workers helped guide the United Launch Alliance with the Radiation Belt Storm Probes spacecraft aboard
as it moved to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
 USA - Phoenix opens Central Mesa light rail extension
The Central Mesa extension of the Valley Metro light rail line in Phoenix was inaugurated on 22 August,
with events along the route to mark the opening. The 5 km extension is the first since the initial 32 km
route was put into service at the end of 2008. It runs east from Sycamore Main Street to Mesa Drive with
three intermediate stops, mainly on a road median strip. There is also a 500-space park-and-ride site at
Mesa Drive. There are three traction substations that feed the 750 V DC power supply. Services are
operated using the existing fleet of 50 Kinki Sharyo LRVs. A further 3 km two-stop extension from Mesa
Drive to Gilbert Road is due to open in 2018. Before this opens, the 5.2 km first phase of the Northwest
extension to Dunlap Avenue will extend the route at the other end in March 2016.
 Uzbekistan - Electrification to Qarshi completed
A Talgo 250 Afrosiyob trainset ran from Tashkent to Qarshi on 22 August as part of celebrations marking
the completion of work to electrify (at 25kV) and upgrade the 140.8 km Marakand – Qarshi section of the
511 km Tashkent – Samarkand – Qarshi route. The project has raised the maximum speed on the
Marakand – Qarshi section to 160 km/h, reducing the Tashkent – Qarshi journey time to 3 h for the Talgo
trainsets or 4 h for trains hauled by modern CNR Dalian electric locomotives, compared to 6 h before
electrification. The modernisation project was approved by the government in December 2010, funding
was finalised in January 2012 and work began shortly afterwards. Completion had been scheduled for
2016, but was subsequently brought forward by the government. The line forms part of Central Asia
Regional Economic Co-operation Corridor 6, which crosses Uzbekistan from Keres on the Kazakh border to
Termez on the Afghan border. Electrification of the mountainous 325 km route from Qarshi to Termez is
underway, funded by a US$221m loan.
RAILTOURS AND DIVERSIONS OVER NON-PASSENGER LINES
This is provided as a service to members and details must be checked with the organisers.
Germany – Berlin diversion
Until 1 November RE2 services will be diverted between Berlin-Spandau and Königs Wusterhausen via
Berlin-Jungfernheide, Berlin Gesundbrunnenn and Berlin-Lichtenberg. This diversion includes a section of
the Berlin Aussenring with no booked passenger services between Berlin Gesundbrunnen and Berlin-