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World rail freight news round-up

24 Jul 2017

Rio Tinto reports that the Autohaul project to automate its heavy haul iron ore trains in the Pilbara region of Western Australia is ‘continuing to progress well’ and ‘on schedule to be completed by the end of 2018’. Around 20% of train-km are now being operated in autonomous mode, the company said on July 18, with the onboard drivers ‘managing the remaining safety and reliability systems’.

CRRC Datong has obtained safety certification enabling its second design of electric locomotive for Belarus Railways to be operated throughout the Eurasian Economic Union countries. The manufacturer said this was the first time a Chinese-built high-power AC traction electric locomotive had been certified for the EEU region.

On July 20 the European Rail Freight Association expressed concern that infrastructure works being undertaken this summer in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands were ‘heavily damaging rail’s reputation as a serious alternative to road transport’. ERFA said there were at least 22 worksites on the main Europe north–south corridor between the Netherlands and Italy, creating a risk of ‘reverse modal shift’ with to rail losing customers to road owing to the inconsistency of services and lack of reliability.

Đuro Đaković Specijalna Vozila has won a 75m kuna contract to supply Zacns tank wagons for a customer in Luxembourg between late 2017 and the end of the first quarter of 2018.

During an Economic Co-operation Organisation event held in Islamabad on July 12, the national railways of Pakistan and Iran agreed to restart Quetta –  Zahedan freight services.

Norfolk Southern is to reduce its operating divisions from 10 to nine on November 1, consolidating its Central Division headquarters operations in Knoxville into three surrounding divisions. The move will affect 50 employees, with dispatchers having the opportunity to transfer and administrative employees offered opportunities to apply for vacant positions elsewhere. Yard and field operations will be reassigned among the other three divisions.

Belgian infrastructure manager Infrabel has reached agreement with Carmeuse SA to reactivate 3·3 km of the former Walcourt – Florennes line 136, to connect a planned quarry at Hemptinne with the Charleroi – Couvin line 132. Work is expected to start in 2019.

Union Pacific consolidated its Council Bluffs Service Unit management with its Twin Cities, North Platte and Chicago service units on July 15. Five management positions have been reassigned to other locations ‘as the company continues aligning operations to meet customer demands amid marketplace shifts’.