A few weeks ago I started an initiative called ‘Rail-Connections’ for Metro and Rail Projects group (~90,000 members – rail-group.com). Purpose of the initiative is to identify knowledge sharing, networking, job seeking and business opportunities which exist within the group – members vary from clients, contractors, consultants, suppliers, to rail operators, etc..

The first step was to gather data about the type of members that exist and the ‘opportunities’ they are interested in (knowledge, networking, employment, business, etc.). A short survey was created at rail-connections.com – Thank you to all who completed the survey.


1.) Approx. 500 respondents

2.) Respondent Types:
30% Consultants
23% Contractors
10% Suppliers
10% Service Providers
12% Rail Operators
10% Others

3.) ‘Opportunities’ in order of priority:
1: Employment
2: Business Opportunities & Rail Knowledge
3: Networking

Other results for Rail-Connection members only…


We are still VERY short on survey participants. However, since it was summer holidays when this initiative was launched, I am now making a FINAL CALL to please complete survey by 17 OCT 2017!


Apart from the obvious reason that you can avail one of the many ‘opportunities’, only those who complete the survey will receive the final survey results, all future updates and invitation to participate in the next steps.


Without revealing too much, one of the largest rail event organizers wants to provide a platform for Rail-Connection members to interact and another company wants to provide Rail SMEs presence in the Middle East at a very low cost and low-risk basis. More coming soon…


Is it a Group, is it a Website, is it a Forum, or is it a Bird?
Please make sure you complete the survey at rail-connections.com by 17 Oct 2017 and all will be revealed soon…

The acceleration of the European digital railway introduces vulnerabilities to an infrastructure historically isolated from cyber attacks. The rail industry and its ecosystem now have an even greater responsibility to ensure the safety and security of the network, and will need to learn how to adapt and mitigate evolving threats quickly.

Following on from the Cyber Senate Rail Cyber Security Summit in 2015 and 2016, we introduce to you the European Rail Cyber Security Working Group, proposed by key stakeholders from our community. The focus of the working group will be to provide a unique face to face, brainstorming platform for those involved in cyber securing rail infrastructure, both IT and OT, to formulate actionable takeaways that can assist in developing a cohesive European vision for the industry moving forward.

Contact marketing@cybersenate.com or call + 44 (0)207 096 5081

European Rail Cyber Security Working Group
Dinner September 11th, Working Group September 12th

Discounts available for Commercial firms quoting RAIL TALENT before August 14th

Table Leaders:
• Christian Schlehuber, DB Netz AG, IT-Security Digital Command and Control Systems
• Dennis Rocks, Rail Delivery Group, Director of Technology Services
• David Henderson, Department for Transport, Rail Cyber Security Policy Lead
• Sharvind Appiah, ERTMS Users Group, Cybersecurity Lead Engineer
• Chris Blask, Chair US ICS ISAC, Global Director Industrial Control Systems, Unisys
• Rossella Mattioli, Network and Information Security Office, ENISA – European Union Agency for Network and Information Security
• Thomas Chatelet, European Union Agency for Railways, ERTMS Unit Project Officer
• Hans Willemsen, Nederlandse Spoorwegen, Architect Information Security
• Koen De Groot, Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, Senior Policy Officer

The 3rd Annual Rail Cyber Security Summit will take place in London March 13/14 2018.

Mark your calendars!


Air Versus High Speed Rail: 

How North Star believes the ‘world’s top strategic infrastructure project’ will revolutionise travel between Malaysia and Singapore, creating huge economic benefit

A new high-speed rail development is planned to connect Kuala Lumpur with Singapore by 2026, revolutionising travel and enhancing trade, interconnectivity and economic ties between the two cities. 

The rail link is due to begin construction in 2018 and results from strong political will on the side of both the Malaysian and Singaporean governments. This is evidenced by the signing of a bilateral agreement in December 2016 and the recent appointment of a Joint Development Partner (a Mott McDonald/Ernst & Young/WSP partnership) to provide technical consultancy and procurement advice to both government entities. 

Why the need for a new High-Speed Rail (HSR) Link? 

Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are fast becoming Asian megacities. Since 1980, Singapore’s population has doubled in size and KL’s has quadrupled. With the growth of these high-GDP cities continuing to explode, there is understandably strong desire on the part of both governments to boost interconnectivity, enhance infrastructure and drive economic growth for an estimated catchment of 20 million people who could potentially benefit.

At a glance: KL-Singapore High Speed Rail Project. ©North Star Consultancy, design template courtesy of Adioma.

Whilst current rail options between the two nations are limited, KL-Singapore is currently the world’s fourth busiest air route, proving that strong demand for travel between the two cities exists.


Trains Versus Planes: Why the planned High-Speed Rail Link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is destined for success

With the budget air market booming in Asia and many people flying regularly between the two cities, how can the project’s sponsors be sure that there will be sufficient ridership and revenue to compete effectively with the airlines and meet the current projections of a high EIRR (Economic Internal Rate of Return)?

North Star believes the following are key:

  • Detailed consideration given to the commercial and operating model of the rail system by both governments in the planning and feasibility stages to ensure the project’s long-term success; 

  • Evidence that points to high speed rail being a preferred mode of travel for customers in similar city centre to city centre scenarios (provided core customer needs are met);

  • Evidence that high speed rail links boosts the economies of all the regions it serves (as opposed to air travel which typically only benefits the beginning and end destinations of the service).

Commercial and Operating Model

Based on our experience, we know that an effective commercial and operating model is key to ensuring the successful formation and operation of a new railway. In this case, this is somewhat complicated by the fact that the demands of this project are complex. Indeed, there is a need to:

  • Finance and build civil assets and stations simultaneously in two countries;

  • Manage the supply and maintenance of all railway system assets including track, signalling, communications equipment, power and rolling stock; 

  • Appoint operators for all services (express, shuttle and domestic).

For this reason and perhaps wary of lessons learned from the failure of PPPs built for similar projects, MyHSR (the Malaysian HS government entity) and the Singapore Land and Transport Authority (LTA) gave careful consideration to developing a suitable model, resulting in the following:

  • Two publicly funded government entities (InfraCos), responsible for the development of stations and civil works in each of their respective territories and collection of track access charges and concession fees from the Operators.;

  • A privately funded AssetCo, responsible for the provision of all rail assets and funded by availability payments from the InfraCos and train lease fees from the Operators; and

  • Two operators, OpCo International and OpCo Domestic, who are responsible for operating the service and funded by all farebox and other commercial revenue.

North Star believes that the model (below) will form a critical foundation of the project’s long-term success, having been designed to satisfy the needs of all parties, guarantee the project’s longevity, drive a high economic rate of return and encourage modal shift away from the heavily congested air route.


Kuala Lumpur – Singapore HSR: Commercial and Operating Model. Source: Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA).


2. Customers Prefer Rail: The Evidence

Based on North Star’s global experience of similar rail operations and understanding of customer needs within the air-rail sector, we know that customers generally prefer rail over flying where an option for the former exists and comparable (or even better) journey times are supported by an attractive customer experience. Evidence includes:

  • Eurostar (the world’s only other example of a cross-border high speed rail link), which enjoys an 80% market share over the London to Paris route;

  • Spanish high-speed Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) trains, which enjoy over 60% market share on the Madrid-Barcelona air route (formerly the busiest air route in Europe).

Other examples of cities that are connected by a strong, profitable and in-demand rail link include:

  • Tokyo-Osaka;

  • Frankfurt-Cologne;

  • London-Manchester;

  • Paris-Amsterdam

  • Paris-Brussels.

We have a high level of confidence that the KL-Singapore route will follow the model of these prestigious city centre to city centre rail journeys and enjoy a significant market share over air. However, this is dependent on the customer experience meeting the minimum hierarchy of needs for each core customer segment. As experts in designing service start-ups that cater to customer needs, North Star recommends that the KL-SG train service includes, as a minimum:

  • A clean and pleasant on-board and station environment;

  • Visible staff presence in stations and on board trains to provide customer assistance and information and reinforce a strong perception of safety and security;

  • An intelligent fare structure that not only encourages people to use the service, but also travel outside of peak hours, appealing to both business and leisure markets;

  • Smart station and rolling stock design that promotes accessibility and easy wayfinding;

  • Innovation in the provision of customer information and on-board entertainment.

3. High Speed Rail Drives Economic Benefit

Evidence also suggests that high speed rail links drive economic growth along the length of the entre rail route (and not just in the two end city destinations). Examples include:

  • The planned High Speed 2 rail project in the United Kingdom, which is designed to spread wealth from London to regions further north, creating jobs and infrastructure along the way;

  • Eurostar having significantly boosted the economy of Lille, a key stop along the London-Paris-Brussels route, both by increasing tourism and opening job opportunities in Paris to Lille residents.

This gives confidence that the new KL-SG service will give a similar ‘boost effect’ to the economies of Singapore and Malaysia. Finally, an added economic benefit will be that use of the rail service will free up the congested KL-SG air route, enabling higher runway capacity at both airports. This in turn is likely to promote faster and more efficient long-haul services, potentially drawing in higher levels of international tourist and business trade.


The proposed KL-SG rail link will drastically change the landscape of travel between Malaysia and Singapore and is one of the most significant railway projects to be announced in a generation. North Star is confident that the proposed rail link will provide strong competition for the existing short-haul air market and open opportunities for investment and boost economic activity along the entire southern corridor.

North Star Consultancy, established in 2007, provides specialist operations consultants within the transport industry. Backed by decades of collective experience, we provide our clients with operations expertise, ranging from strategic consultancy to hands-on delivery across areas including rail strategic advice, service start-up, proposal management, customer service strategies and more. We have delivered world-class transport solutions to a varied client base including operating companies, airports, airlines and other transport industry suppliers. Our clients are both within our original UK market and international, located across Europe, the Middle East, Asia, North America and Australia.  



Arguably the star of the 11th Middle East Rail Conference held on 7th-8th March in Dubai (UAE), Hyperloop One announced that it is gearing towards conducting its first full-scale tests of the system. This follows motor propulsion tests conducted last year and the recent signing of a MoU with the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to develop a regulatory framework for the new mode’s operation that can be used as a baseline model for gaining safety accreditation throughout the world.

Hyperloop One announced at the conference that a full-scale test facility (termed ‘Devloop’) has been under construction in the Nevada desert north of Las Vegas in recent months, with combined tests of the system’s vacuum air pressure, passive maglev, motor propulsion and braking due to be underway in a full-scale loop by mid-2017. This timeline aligns with the organisation’s desire to enter the first freight carrying pods into service in 2020, with passenger services following by 2021.

Although making the announcement at a rail conference, Hyperloop One was keen to highlight in its keynote that the system is not a new form of rail but will instead represent a brand new and innovative mode of transport altogether, predicting the impact of the system’s launch to be similar to that of the aeroplane in 1903. Accordingly, Hyperloop One will ‘redefine regions’, revolutionise trade and bring unprecedented benefits to global and regional economies. Indeed, with predicted journey times of just 12 minutes between Dubai and Abu Dhabi (and an eventual plan for no two cities in the GCC to be more than an hour apart) it is easy to see how this transformative mode could do just that.

However, by presenting at a rail conference Hyperloop One opened itself to challenge from the operational and technical experts in the room. Perhaps aware of this, Nick Earle, SVP Global Field Operations for Hyperloop One commented that: “Elon Musk first said that when people are presented with the concept of Hyperloop, there are two reactions. The first is to think that this is a sci-fi idea that will never work and the second is to question why it hasn’t been done years before”.

It remains to be seen whether the former will prove true. Rail experts understandably questioned the system’s safety, robustness in times of disruption and ability to operate with an expected 10-20 second headway at speeds of 671 mph (1000kmph or 300m/s). To put this into context, at the lower 10 second headway, this would see pods travelling just 1.86 miles apart at supersonic speeds. What happens if the one in front breaks down, for example?

Upon questioning at the stand, representatives from Hyperloop appeared evasive on the specifics, which is perhaps forgivable given that the system is yet to undergo any form of dynamic testing. Further probing elicited that pods would “talk to each other” in the event of a breakdown and that there would be suitable provisions made for exits along the route to facilitate emergency evacuations if required.

Other equally pressing questions remain. For pods to travel at such speeds, tubes would surely need to be constructed along a perfectly straight trajectory, with zero gradient. Whilst this may be easily depicted at the design stage, it is somewhat hard to believe that this can work in practice across varied global geographies. After all, railway professionals are acutely aware that first and foremost, the railway is a triumph of engineering as hills, mountains, rivers, and other topological constraints all need to be overcome.

Given the many questions that loom large over the horizon of the Nevada desert as Devloop gets underway, it is hard at this stage to think of Hyperloop as anything more than a concept; albeit an exciting one at that. For this reason, Hyperloop One’s presentations at the conference were met with at best a mixture of keen interest and reserved anticipation and at worst a form of disbelief that bordered on disdain. 

That said, it is perfectly feasible to imagine that similar questions existed over 200 years ago prior to the launch of the first train and 125 years ago prior to the first aeroplane taking off and landing. Now Hyperloop One threatens to disrupt the prevalence of both modes and perhaps replace them altogether. 

Author: Leanne Wheeler, Operations Manager / Senior Consultant, North Star Consultancy (UAE)

Publication: The Global AirRail Alliance

Full article: https://www.globalairrail.com/news/entry/hype-or-reality-questions-emerge-as-hyperloop-one-edges-towards-proof-of-concept

Regulatory framework likely to be in place by 2018, meaning construction of high-speed transport link could begin – report


Speaking at the Middle East Rail conference in Dubai, Rob Lloyd, chief executive officer of Hyperloop One, said that he was confident that a regulatory framework would be in place by next year, which would mean that production on the concept could begin.

“There are no rules to regulate the Hyperloop today, we’ll need to collaborate in the creation of those rules,” he was quoted as saying in a Reuters report.

“The objective would be to create a playbook for regulatory approvals and we’re working with some of the experts around the world to do that. We think we need to have that done in 2018 timeframe so we can begin construction in 2019 and go into production of the Hyperloop somewhere in the region of 2020 to 2021.”

According to its website, the Hyperloop uses a custom-built electric motor to accelerate and decelerate a levitated pod through a low-pressure tube. The concept uses magnets to levitate the pods, creating conditions that can move passengers and cargo at speeds of up to 1,200kmph.

The idea of the Hyperloop came from a 2013 paper authored by Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla Motors, who envisioned the transportation system moving people between Los Angeles and San Francisco within 30 minutes.

In 2016, the firm signed an agreement with Dubai Roads and Transport Authority to explore the feasibility of a Hyperloop link between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, reducing the journey to a 12-minute ride.

“Currently experts from both parties are discussing key challenges, particularly with regards to operational safety not only from a system safety point of view but also from a human physiology perspective as well,” said Abdul Mohsen Ibrahim Younus, CEO of the Rail Agency at the RTA, according to Reuters.

However, Dr Abdulla S Al Katheeri, director general of the UAE’s Federal Transport Authority (FTA) — Land and Maritime, said that the Hyperloop had not yet been rubberstamped by officials.

“No transportation mode will be done without regulation… There is a big discussion at state (level) whether the Hyperloop should be brought. It is a new mode today and until now there are a lot of trials… if it’s proven… if it should be done in this country,” he said

Source: http://meconstructionnews.com/21436/hyperloop-aims-to-start-uae-construction-by-2019


KUALA LUMPUR: Prasarana Malaysia Bhd, operator of Mecca’s Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro Southern Line (MMMSL) in Saudi Arabia, has secured another international job, this time to provide training for train drivers and operation control centre staff of Jakarta’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system.

Brokered by its subsidiary, Prasarana Integrated Management & Engineering Services (Prime), the training will be provided under an agreement with Akademi Perkeretaapian Indonesia (API), which is the republic’s leading rail training centre.

Prime, which has been aggressively venturing into the international market, especially after the success of MMMSL, said that a letter of acceptance of the training proposal was received last month.

Its chief executive officer Masnizam Hisham said training for Indonesian rail staff would be conducted by Rail Academy, an internationally-recognised training centre under the management of Prasarana’s other subsidiary company, Rapid Rail Sdn Bhd.

“The first batch, consisting of 10 train drivers and five controllers, will be coming to the academy in April, to be followed by other batches, plus the possibility of other areas of collaboration,” said Masnizam, who is also project director for MMMSL operations.

She said the collaboration between Prasarana and MRT Jakarta was made possible after both parties signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Jakarta in October last year.

Under the MoU, Prasarana agreed to share its experience in the planning and operations of urban rail lines with its Indonesian counterpart.

Both parties had also agreed to explore the possibility of exchanges in technical and operational information, expertise, and know how to enhance and develop their mutual capabilities.

Last year, Rail Academy also provided training for 30 of Saudi Arabia’s train drivers to support MMMSL’s operations during the haj season.

It was widely considered the best in the history of the service, which had been in operation since 2010.

Source : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2017/02/214461/prasarana-train-jakarta-mrt-drivers

(MENAFN – Khaleej Times) The UAE has planned investments of 30 billion in its railway networks The UAE along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar accounts for 85 per cent of the 69 billion worth of rail projects under construction in the GCC, where total rail projects, including those in the pipeline, are valued at 240 billion.

“As of January 2017, Saudi Arabia had registered the highest rail construction project value of 50 per cent, followed by the UAE [18 per cent] and Qatar [17 per cent],” said a report by Terrapinn Middle East, organiser of Middle East Rail.

The planned investments of 30 billion in the UAE’s railway networks include that in Abu Dhabi Metro and Light Rail, skyTran Yas Island, the next stages of the Etihad Rail national network, the Dubai Metro extension for Expo 2020 and the new stages of the Al Sufouh Tram, said the report.

However, there are a number of obstacles facing new rail projects apart from project finance, such as operational structures, technological expertise and political dynamics of cross-border networks, said the report.

The construction timeline for the 2,117km-long 200 billion GCC Railway Network that will link all six countries had been pushed back to 2021 from 2018 in the aftermath of the oil price plunge.

Source: http://menafn.com/1095257496/69-billion-GCC-rail-projects-on-track-despite-oil-price-plunge

ETIHAD Rail, the developer and operator of the UAE›s multi-billion dollar fully integrated national railway network, has, since commencing Stage One operations, transported 10 million tons of granulated sulfur for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) as of February 10, from sources at Shah and Habshan to its point of export at Ruwais.

Since having received approval for commercial operations from the Federal Transport Authority’s (FTA) – Land and Maritime in December 2015, two trains move along the Stage One network daily under the current timetable, each carrying up to 11,000 tons of granulated sulfur. To date, the monthly average tonnage of sulfur transported stands at 410,000 tons, with the seven million ton mark having been surpassed at the end of August 2016

“The Etihad Rail project is emblematic of our zest for sustainable development, fostering innovation, and unsurpassed commitment toward revolutionizing the UAE’s socio-economic landscape,” said Eng. Faris Saif Al Mazrouei, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Rail.

“Stage One’s continued progress underpins our vision to create significant benefits to the UAE through a faster, safer and more reliable alternative transport system. Transporting high volumes of sulfur per year is only the beginning of our efforts to expand the UAE’s logistics capabilities when transferring goods and raw materials from their source points to their final destinations,” Eng. Al Mazrouei added.

The 1,200km long Etihad Rail network is part of the government’s plans to invest in excellent transport infrastructure, with the aim being to further strengthen the UAE’s position as a leading logistics hub, facilitating connectivity between trading partners in the region and beyond, through integration with key ports of the Gulf and Arabian seas. Stretching a distance of 264-kilometers, Stage One links the sulfur sources of Shah and Habshan to the export point of Ruwais via the Mirfa depot. Built to international standards, Stage One utilises seven state-of-the-art locomotives from US-based Electro-Motive Diesel, with wagons supplied by China’s CSR Corporation.

Etihad Rail is being developed in line with the core tenets of Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 and UAE Vision 2021, which collectively call for economic diversification through strategic initiatives set to bolster UAE socio-economic growth.

At full capacity, Stage One of Etihad Rail is poised to transport more than seven million tons of granulated sulfur annually.

Source: http://saudigazette.com.sa/business/etihad-rail-transports-10-million-tons-sulfur/

Source: http://www.seatrade-maritime.com/news/middle-east-africa/bahri-to-provide-shipping-transportation-and-custom-services-for-saudi-rail-company.html

Saudi logistics firm Bahri has signed a contract with Saudi Rail Company (SAR) to provide transportation and shipping services from around the world as well as customs clearance support. 

Bahri Logistics will provide SAR with transportation and shipping services for cargo and an electronic system to track all shipments from the country of origin to the final destination in warehouses or worksites of the company.

The company will also make necessary arrangements with the concerned export/import port through Bahri’s vast network of offices and agents, and also offer consultancy services.

Mohammed Al-Ghaith, president of Bahri Logistics, said: “We are pleased to sign this contract with SAR, one of the leading national companies dedicated to continuously enhancing its services.

“The contract also falls in line with Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision, as Bahri is constantly working to strengthen and expand its services to further reinforce the transportation sector in the Kingdom and play an important role in the Kingdom’s economic diversification efforts.

“We are confident this deal will positively contribute to the Kingdom’s economic growth.”

Source: http://english.mubasher.info/news/3057497/SAR-northern-rail-line-to-operate-on-26-February

SAR northern rail line to operate on 26 February

Riyadh – Mubasher: Saudi Railway Company (SAR) is set to commence operation of its northern region train on Monday 26 February after the company met all the requirements needed for the launch.

This step boosts the Kingdom’s ability to achieve a balanced development and matches the Saudi Vision 2030, through which it seeks to raise the rating of three Saudi cities to be among the best 100 cities in the world, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported, citing Solaiman Ben Abdullah El-Hemdan, head of the Saudi Transport Authority, as saying.

Once the project begins operation, it will attract new trade and industrial investments outside the major cities, the minister, who doubles as the head of the Saudi Railways Organisation, added.

Earlier in February, SAR announced completing Waad Al-Shamal project and the first trial operation of the molten sulfur wagons project.

Source: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/02/the-high-performance-computing-that-made-one-hyperloop-teams-pod-possible/

Here at Ars, when we write about assembling computing clusters in the cloud, it tends to be on a grand scale. Think endeavors in high-performance computing (HPC) on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) like in 2013 when a chemistry professor and software company Cycle Computing assembled 156,314 cores for an 18-hour run that reached a theoretical speed of 1.21 petaflops. Or when simulation software firm Schrödinger rented 50,000 cores on EC2 in 2012 for $4829 per hour.

But sometimes just several dozen cores from a computing fairy-godmother will do. That was the case for an undergraduate Hyperloop team from the University of California, Irvine (UCI). The team assembled in 2015 to compete in a series of contests sponsored by SpaceX after the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, drew up a whitepaper envisioning a super-fast form of transportation that ran on magnetic skis in a low-pressure tube. After UCI’s team, called HyperXite, won a technical excellence award in an early 2016 design competition, the team had to actually build the thing in time for the January 2017 pod contest at SpaceX’s headquarters in LA. This meant a lot of computer modeling would have to be done.


Source: http://timesofoman.com/article/102811/Oman/Transport/Oman-plans-internal-rail-network-for-mining-sector

Muscat: An internal rail network for the use of the mining industry is the new focus of the Oman Global Logistics Group (OGL) even as the joint GCC rail project has come to a stop, the OGL chief has said.

Abdulrahman Al Hatmi, the CEO of OGL, said they will focus on setting up two rail networks internally for the mining industry.

“We were ready to connect with the GCC network but unfortunately, due to certain development issues related to our neighbour, work on this has been suspended and it has affected the contracts we had. Also, the employees have lost jobs as a result,” said Al Hatmi.

“Therefore, we are now focused on an internal network for the mining industry which will have two routes. The first will connect the Sohar Port and Dank, while the second will connect Thumrait, Shuwaimiya and Duqm,” he added.

He said if the neighbouring GCC states resume work on the Gulf rail network, Oman will be ready to commence the connection from Sohar.

Al Hatmi explained that the rail project for the mining industry will be viable if it focuses on the trade in Gypsum stones which accounts for 6 percent of the Indian market. The gypsum stone is produced in Salalah.

“We studied the markets in some of the countries and found that gypsum and geely were not in high demand. Experts said the global market is slow, which is true. However, we are aiming to corner 6 percent of the Indian market trade,” said Al Hatmi.

“This will make the rail project economically viable and it would not need support,” he added.

Discussing the future of the rail project, Al Hatmi said they needed a mechanism to highlight a strategy to push forward.

“The only thing the rail network needs is a clear development strategy in the mining sector,” he said.

“One needs to ensure that mining reserves are available and documented and a mechanism to extract these reserves is in place,” Al Hatmi explained. It is unclear when the rail project will commence but Al Hatmi stressed that the group is in talks with responsible authorities to expedite it.



french-regulator-rejects-sncf-network-track-access-charge-planFRENCH road and rail regulator Arafer announced on February 8 that it has rejected SNCF Network’s proposed tariff structure for track access charges from 2018, arguing the new arrangements fail to meet regulatory requirements and ignore commitments to pricing reform given by the infrastructure manager two years ago.

Roads and transport projects in Qatar are on track and on schedule, according to Qatar’s Minister of Transport and Communications HE Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti.

With $11bn (QR42bn) allocated in its 2017 budget, transport projects in the gulf country represent 21.2% of the total budget for the year, with another $2.7bn (QR10bn) allocated for rail projects and Hamad Port, according to The Peninsula.

Read more: Qatar: $11bn worth of transport projects on track | ConstructionWeekOnline.com

liége-light-rail-ppp-concession-approvedTHE Belgian city of Liége moved an important step closer to the start of construction on its light rail network on February 10, when the Eurostat, the European Union’s supervisory body for public accounting standards, informed Wallonia Regional Transport (SRWT) that it has approved the PPP concession structure for the project.

The value of total GCC rail projects in pipeline stands at over $240bn, with $69bn worth of projects currently under constructionThis post courtesy of:GCC dominates rail with $240bn planned projects

via GCC dominates rail with $240bn planned projects — Donovan Stova


An ambitious $250bn rail project linking all six Gulf states will reportedly go ahead despite spending cutbacks in the GCC due to declining oil prices.

On Tuesday, GCC Assistant Secretary General for Economic Affairs Abdullah Bin Juma al-Shibli confirmed the continuation of the project at the Middle East rail conference held in Dubai.

“Twelve hundred kilometres of railway will be established,” he was quoted by Gulf News as saying. “The GCC has pledged ongoing support to this project through partnerships with the private sector.”

Earlier this year, the project was cast into doubt after Abdullah Belhaif al-Nuaimi, UAE minister of infrastructure development, called the projected 2018 completion date “unrealistic”.

The past 18 months of falling oil prices have caused an economic downturn in the Gulf, with many GCC states tightening government spending.

The GCC railway network will connect the UAE with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman and is projected to be part of a wider $100bn rail programme in the region.

It will provide alternative import and export routes for the member states and allow better access to ports along the Arabian and Red Seas.

It is expected to serve about 16 million passengers and 50 million tons of freight, specialist site Railway Technology reported, although it did not specify in what timeframe this was expected to happen. 

A major component of the project is the Etihad Rail being constructed by Abu Dhabi. The 1,200km rail track would eventually be connected to the wider 2,177-km-long GCC rail network which will connect all six states when completed.

The first phase of the Etihad project – a 264km coastline route – has been completed and carries granulated sulphur, used by the oil and gas industry, between ports.

A second 628km track will now be built to link up directly to GCC rail network.

In 2015, Ramiz Al-Assar, senior MENA transport specialist with the World Bank’s sustainable development department, said the project could still be completed on time.

“We are mandated to complete the project in 2018 and while there could be some slippage, because the project is split into relatively short sections in each country, I believe it is achievable in two to three years,” he said.



NEW DELHI: Over 200 rail accidents out of the total 292 were caused due to failure of railway staff in the last few years with action being taken against 542 employees and penalties imposed in over 500 cases. 

As per the findings of inquiry committees including prima-facie causes, out of a total of 292 consequential train accidents, excluding mishaps which occurred at unmanned level crossings, from 2012-13 to January 2016, 204 accidents have been attributed to failure of railway staff, according to Railway Ministry data. 

Admitting negligence of railway staff as one of the causes behind many train accidents, a senior Railway Ministry official said, “All consequential train accidents are investigated by Commissioner Railway Safety (CRS). On the basis of these inquiry reports, disciplinary action is taken against the staff found guilty and penalties are imposed on the staff.” 

A total of 542 employees have been taken up for disciplinary action and penalties imposed in 528 cases. 

The official said safety is accorded the highest priority by railways and all possible steps are undertaken on a continual basis to prevent accidents and to enhance safety. 

These include replacement of over-aged assets, adoption of suitable technologies for upgradation and maintenance of track, rolling stock, signalling and interlocking systems and safety drives among others. 

He said railways has also adopted new technologies such as train protection warning system (TPWS), train collision avoidance system (TCAS) as a means of automatic train protection on pilot-basis on selected routes.



Dear Members,

RailTalent is proud to welcome XRail into the Middle East region following on from their success on Rail projects within the UK which also included bidding for projects in the region like the “Dubai Metro System Enhancement” project in 2015. (More of their work at http://www.xrailsolutions.com/work/)

XRail is an Engineering Railway Company which provides consultancy and sub-contractor support drawing on decades of experience within major rail operators across all levels, offering a higher quality precision engineering service to tackle the most challenging of rail programmes. XRail deliver rail system design and implementation, project management, assurance and integration for the world’s leading train operators and contractors. A smart and comprehensive service designed to cover the entire project lifecycles and beyond.

To know more about XRail please follow their new LinkedIn Company page at https://www.linkedin.com/company/xrail-solutions-ltd

Also you are invited to visit XRail on 8-9 March 2016 in Dubai World Trade Centre at the Middle East Rail 2016 at stand K40

For more information please contact:

Email: enquiries@xrailsolutions.com
Website: www.xrailsolutions.com

8th Floor, Reef Tower
Cluster ‘O’
Jumeirah Lakes Towers
Sheikh Zayed Road
Dubai, UAE
Tel: +97152 963 8849

29th Floor
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
E14 5DY, UK
Tel: +44 (0)207 712 1495


The inaugural Rail Career Zone will be set alongside Middle East Rail exhibition and conference taking place on March 9th at Dubai International Convention Centre.

The Career Zone will provide current and future engineering graduates with direct access to regional rail operators, government authorities, leading multinational rail suppliers to learn about exciting career opportunities in the region’s burgeoning rail sector. Young professionals who have already embarked on successful careers in rail engineering will also be present to share their experiences and answer any questions future students might have.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs, the 10th edition of Middle East Rail will be held in partnership with the Ministry of Infrastructure Development UAE and the Federal Transport Authority – Land & Maritime.

Terrapinn, organisers of the Middle East Rail, have partnered with Howarth & Co, founder of National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering in the UK and an international project management consultancy firm to coordinate career advice sessions and interactive workshops, games and videos presentations in the Zone.

H.E. Dr. Abdulla Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Chairman, Federal Transport Authority – Land & Maritime, UAE: “The region is home to some of the largest railway projects in the world and a number of large and small scale public and private-sector infrastructure projects are currently in progress. As engineering disciplines become more specialized, it is extremely important for the students to understand the industry demands and trends so that they can align their academic field experience and skillset with the opportunities and economic needs of the future. Middle East Rail Career Zone is the perfect platform for current and future graduates to learn about exciting career prospects, as well as establish contacts with regional and international rail industry professionals.”

Gil Howarth, Chief Executive, Howarth & Co’s said: “We see this initiative as the start of a major ongoing programme of industry promotion within schools, colleges and universities. People are a nation’s greatest asset and we are delighted to have the support of the Federal Transport Authority in moving this localisation programme forward.”



9:00am  – Attend the expo and meet over 300 global companies

11:00am  – Federal Transport Authority – Land & Maritime introduction to UAE careers in engineering

11:30am  –  Howarth & Co leading workshops, interactive games, and offering the chance for you to speak to young professionals currently working in the industry.

2:00pm  –  HR representatives from some of our biggest sponsors will be at the career zone to come and discuss the graduate opportunities they are offering in the region

If you are a university careeers advisor or professor looking to find out more about bringing your students, contact Sophie Roberts on +971 4440 2548


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