German Logistics Giant Investing Heavily in South East Asia

ASIA – DHL Supply Chain will invest more than €70 million in growing its regional footprint in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar by 2020. DHL Supply Chain already benefits from a well-established position in Thailand and Vietnam, and will concentrate on Cambodia and Myanmar, for further growth opportunities. Over the next three years, the company plans to build new facilities, expand its fleet of trucks, and invest in new technology, creating an additional 5,000 jobs in the four countries. John Gilbert, CEO DHL Supply Chain, commented:

“Asia-Pacific is one the most important regions for DHL Supply Chain being accountable for a significant share of our revenues in 2016. Consumer, retail and tech industries drive these developments becoming evident in increased amounts of new and extended contracts. Being already the market leader for the region it is fully natural for us to foster our commitment in the region and remaining a reliable partner.”

DHL says its investment will also serve the wider needs of a growing Thailand, and an economy which is expected to return to accelerated growth. Government investment in mega projects like infrastructure, the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), and airport expansion plans, to name a few, are attractive elements for foreign investors in Thailand, and according to Kasikorn Bank research, Thai Land Transport and warehouse market value in 2017 growth is expected to be around 5 to 7%.

DHL Supply Chain Thailand also recently completed a move to new premises located in Bangkok’s business area and its nationwide network now comprises of a combined warehouse space of approximately 650,000 square metres across more than 70 facilities, employing more than 10,000 people. DHL has also employed intelligent systems in both warehouse and transport operations such as in automation and robotics, unmanned vehicles, vision picking, transport control tower and telematics. Kevin Burrell, CEO, Thailand Cluster, DHL Supply Chain Thailand explains:

“With the technology and innovation that we invest in warehouse and transport operations in Thailand, coupled with our ability to deliver integrated solutions for customers, we are striving to drive enhanced value, which in turn acts as a strong differentiator for us in the market.

“We are committed to supporting customers by delivering exceptional operational services and innovation across Thailand’s entire supply chain, helping the country to become the premier logistics centre for Southeast Asia. We will continue to consolidate and support markets in which we lead, namely Thailand and Vietnam, and invest in markets where we aim to lead such as Myanmar and Cambodia.”

Handy Shopping Guide


China wants to develop the trains of the future

The state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has claimed it plans to develop the next generation of trains, which can travel at speeds of up to 2,500mph.

Liu Shiquan, a deputy general manager at CASC, said their scientists would be looking to develop the super-fast trains of the future that could “fly on the ground”.

“The corporation has built rich experience and accumulated technological know-how through major projects, and it has the capabilities in simulation, modelling and experimentation for large-scale projects, as well as the world-class design capability for supersonic aircraft, all of which lay the important ground for the super-fast train project,” state-owned website The Paper wrote of CASC’s plans.

With connections to China’s defence ministry, CASC has already been involved in developing satellites, rockets and missiles; now plans are afoot to turn its futuristic tech closer to home.

China already has the largest network of high speed trains in the world, and is obviously keen to continue outstripping the competition. CASC officials have said they will work with more than 20 other research institutes, both domestic and international, in the quest to create the proposed 2,500mph trains.

Although the ‘flying train’ may be a way off becoming a reality, Chinese scientists also announced plans for an intercity train that can travel at more than 600mph – clearly designed to compete with American Canadian inventor Elon Musk’s hyperloop concept, which uses air instead of wheels and could result in speeds of more than 700mph. No date has been announced for when the hyperloop will be fully up and running, but earlier this week Musk shared footage of a test pod accelerating to 200mph in a few seconds as part of a competition to design pods for the high-speed system.

The Independent

Canadian team wins Hyperloop contest for proposing 39 minute Toronto-Montreal route

Canadian team HyperCan is one of the ten winners of the Hyperloop One Global Challenge, thanks to its proposal on a Toronto-Montreal route. Originally conceived by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2013, the Hyperloop is a tunnel that uses electricity to propel a pressurized pod at rapid speeds.

In the Hyperloop One contest, teams were tasked with presenting concepts for the ‘loop’ pods that the futuristic transportation tubes can use in hypothetical routes around the world. Altogether, more than 2,600 teams registered, a number that was narrowed down to the 35 strongest proposals in the semi-finals. In the end, HyperCan, as well as nine other teams from the U.S., the U.K., Mexico and India, were deemed the winners by a panel of Hyperloop experts.

As per HyperCan’s design, a theoretical Hyperloop route would connect Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto to create a Canadian ‘mega-region’ that serves at least 25 percent of the country’s total population. Broken down, this is what reduced travel times would like using Hyperloop transportation: From Toronto to Montreal: 640 km in 39 minutes From Toronto to Ottawa: 450 km in 27 minutes From Ottawa to Montreal: 190 km in 12 minutes Specifically, Hyperloop One says that the highways connecting Toronto and Montreal — Highway 417 and Highway 401 — are the busiest in Canada. On Highway 401 alone, traffic regularly exceeds 450,000 vehicles on a daily basis. Meanwhile, a recent traffic study found Montreal drivers have the worst commute in the country, spending an average of 52 hours in congestion annually. Finally, congestion between these cities is set to grow by more than six percent by 2020.


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By the Mighty Mumford

In Boston and Worcester, same,

New Haven mixed with Boston and Maine…

Interchange ‘tween the two

Is what he’ll do,

And a steam-powered tourist train!

A former branch line revived,

As a modern short line survives…

Heritage stock

To turn back the clock,

A volunteer train crew drives!

They have a two-six-oh,

And a bigger Mikado,

Two steamers and one

German that runs,

Back and forth to the farm show!

–Jonathan Caswell

Image is of an N scale 2-6-0 steam engine (the author has one!) lettered for the Boston and Maine.

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Vintage private railcars are mustered at Albany-Rensselaer Train Station


Dome cars, lounges, observation and sleeper cars, many painted in the livery of their former railroads, gathered at the Rensselaer rail station Wednesday, preparing for a multi-day journey that will wind through the Adirondacks, the Southern Tier, the Berkshires and Green Mountains.

They’ll end up in Burlington, Vt., for the 40th annual convention of the American Association of Private Rail Car Owners.

Before then, the owners of these cars, the oldest of which dates from 1911, will see a considerable amount of the Northeast. Hauled by two Amtrak locomotives, they’ll travel to Utica and then to Thendara, back to Utica and onto Geneva, then head east to Springfield, Mass., and Rutland before arriving at Burlington.

The owners, rail enthusiasts all, can talk about the history of their individual cars. They’ve often spent years restoring them. Former association executive director Borden Black has just acquired a car from Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, which has ceased operation.

Dick Johnston of Phoenix travels in a dome car built in 1955 by The Budd Company, once a major U.S. railcar manufacturer, and used on the Empire Builder, which runs between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest.

Amtrak took over the route, and the equipment, in May 1971, and used it until it was replaced by newly manufactured bilevel Superliners in the late 1970s.

Coordinating a trip like this can be a challenge. Taylor Johnson, the association’s vice president of transportation, had planned a stop in Saratoga Springs and a trip via Whitehall to Rutland. But when the Canadian Pacific balked at hosting the train, Vermont rail officials and the Finger Lakes Railway stepped up with an alternate routing.

The private rail car owners support the continued operation of Amtrak, and Johnson said their train “is a reflection of American history.” The owners often make their cars available to passengers looking for a unique travel experience.

Some of the cars have private bedrooms, dining rooms and kitchens, as well as showers and flat-screen TVs.

The organization hopes to draw attention to plans by New York state to remove the tracks from Thendara north to Lake Placid, a move it opposes.

Robert Donnelly, the association president, said the private rail cars often are owned by groups of shareholders.

Among the cars participating in this year’s convention is the Georgia 300, a platform observation car that once operated on the Crescent Limited between New York and New Orleans.

The car has been used by Jimmy Carter, George H.W. and George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and by Kerry/Edwards campaign, said another association member, LeAnne Feagin. The Obamas boarded it in Philadelphia, picking up Joe Biden and his wife in Delaware, to travel to the 2009 inauguration.

Albany Times Union

Even if Hyperloop fails, public transport will win

One hundred and fifty teams from around the world entered the third SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. Of those, 25 made it to the company’s weeklong event in Hawthorne, California. And like the prior years’ events under the Southern California sun, after days of testing and dry runs, only a select few were chosen to do a proper vacuum-sealed run down the 1.25 kilometer track.

It’s been four years since SpaceX, Tesla and Boring Company CEO Elon Musk dropped his white paper about the Hyperloop: a vacuum-sealed tube-based transportation system that would get passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a mind-boggling 30 minutes. Since then, a few companies have taken up the mantle to make Musk’s idea a reality. Perhaps more intriguing than entrepreneurs tackling the Hyperloop are the student teams that SpaceX has gathered together to solve the pod problem.

This year at the rocket-building company’s pod-building competition, the name of the game was speed. Whichever team was able to propel its pod down the track the quickest would walk away with a trophy signed by Musk and bragging rights.

The rules for the event were simple. The fastest pod on the 1.25 kilometer vacuum-sealed track wins. But not all 25 teams made it that far. The SpaceX engineers and judges ran a battery of tests for technology and safety on the vehicles to determine if they were worthy of time in the tube. Only three teams made it to the finals.

The winning team was the Warr team, from the Technical University of Munich, who pulled an impressive run reaching just over 200 miles per hour. But the team did it without fancy maglevs or air bearings. Instead, the small pod was powered by a 50-kW motor and held steady on the track by high-speed bearings and aluminum wheels. It was essentially a bullet-train-shaped electric car. “We focused on a lightweight design that accelerates really quick in the tube,” Manfred Schwarz told Engadget ahead their run at the event.

Schwartz still believes that the future of Hyperloop involves maglev, though. But for a student trying to win a competition and catch the eye of potential sponsors (building pods is expensive), it really comes down to creating a pod that works best for the given situation.

In stark contrast to the small missile built by Warr was the entry built by the Paradigm team. It used the opportunity to try out its air bearings (which the team says reduces the force necessary to propel its pod by 80 percent) and lateral movement technology. The 1,800-pound (yeah, it was huge) pod posted a very respectable speed of about 60 miles per hour during a run that involved using a vehicle provided by SpaceX called a “pusher” to get it up to speed.

Meanwhile, the Swissloop team used a jet-propulsion system to get its pod going with a great whoosh. Its entry got up to about 25 miles per hour after they were initially unable to connect to the pod after it was placed on the track. They pulled the vehicle out of the tube, swapped batteries and resumed their test.

The thing is, currently there’s no “right way” to get the hyperloop going. Hyperloop One, a commercial endeavor, conducted tests in July where its XP-1 pod hit 190 miles per hour with a maglev system. That’s the accepted future of the transportation system. Even Schwarz thinks that’s the long-term goal. Unfortunately, building a maglev system is expensive. Add that to the already Herculean task of building a series of vacuum-sealed tubes between destinations and the economics of the Hyperloop become the system’s largest obstacle.

Which brings us back to the pod competition at the SpaceX headquarters. Here students are figuring how to build systems on limited budgets and making tough decisions as to what they’ll focus on for each competition. Musk put out the idea and companies like Hyperloop One jumped on it focusing on the SpaceX CEO’s vision, but these teams, they’re looking at it from thousands of different directions.

Understandably, sometimes an initial idea needs some tweaking before it’s truly ready to take on the world. That’s where the Hyperloop Pod Competition shines. No two pods are the same and that’s exactly what this emerging technology needs. It needs teams of very smart people trying out insane ideas. Not every concept will yield something worthy, but at the very least it’s one more thing to tick off the “that doesn’t work” list.

While the original idea was for Musk to put his Hyperloop concept out there and let the world figure it out, the CEO’s latest grand scheme — the Boring Company — might need the Hyperloop or something similar to become a reality. Those sleds with cars on them need propulsion and braking systems, and that’s what the college teams are focusing on. So it’s unsurprising that another Hyperloop Pod Competition is slated for next year.

Maybe the Hyperloop will live up to the hype and passengers will be whisked from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes via maglev pods in a few decades. But even if we never erect tubes up and down the countryside, what’s happening at these events could be applied to other transportation systems and that’s more important than any one man’s idea.


Something we can all agree on

By Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney
Washington Times

Improving our country’s roads, bridges, tunnels and rail systems is a basic function of our government that has traditionally been supported by both parties. By investing in infrastructure, we not only repair deteriorating bridges, roads and tunnels, but also strengthen our communities and speed up commerce. It is one of the best ways to generate economic growth and create good paying jobs nationwide. As our country struggles with slow growth, I believe it is the right time for the federal government to make a significant investment in infrastructure.

In the New York Metropolitan area, and regions like it across the U.S., mass transit is how we commute. More than half of New Yorkers take mass transit to work, and one of the mass transit projects most in need of federal funding is the Second Avenue Subway.

After a century of planning, the first of four phases of the Second Avenue Subway opened this past January 1st to great fanfare and celebration. Since its opening, property values along the route have risen, most local business along the route report growth, and ridership has skyrocketed.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) says that 176,000 people use this subway route each day, an increase of more than 50,000 since it opened for revenue service eight months ago. To meet this demand, the MTA announced that it would be adding two additional trains.

The success of the Second Avenue Subway’s first phase is evidence that we need to finish the job and extend this line north to 125th Street in Harlem and south to Hanover Square. New Yorkers are using mass transit more than ever, with weekday subway ridership at its highest levels since 1948. As crowded subway cars grow more packed, would-be passengers are often left standing on the platform, watching several trains pass them by before they can squeeze on. With this kind of demand, expansion of the system is critical.

Although New York has more subway stations than any system in the world, our city suffers from “transit deserts” — areas that lack mass transit options. For example, the far east side of Manhattan has no subway, and the Lexington Avenue line, the closest option, is regularly derided as the most overcrowded subway in the nation. There truly is a limit to the number of people who can cram into a subway car. We need to address this issue by completing the Second Avenue Subway to benefit people along the entire route, and improving signaling so more trains can run on overcrowded lines.

New York City is not the only city in our country with transit deserts. States and cities across the country are in desperate need of transit improvements and expansions. Fortunately, mass transit development projects are some of the best investments we can make. They create jobs during construction and after completion. They take cars off the road, relieving congestion and improving the environment, and they make it easier for people to get to work, or just get around town, rather than being forced to turn down work because of an impossible commute.

The fact of the matter is that federal funding is critical to any project as big and complex as the Second Avenue Subway. With utility cables and water pipes buried under New York’s streets, and other subway tunnels already built, new subway construction is forced deep underground to avoid the older tunnels and any disruption to the electric and water grids. Phase 1 cost approximately $4.5 billion and it wouldn’t have gotten done without the $1.3 billion in federal funding that I helped secure. The subsequent phases are likely to be at least as expensive. But it will be well worth the investment when you consider the jobs and economic growth that it will generate.

Now is the time for our country to complete the full Second Avenue Subway and invest in similar transit projects across the country. New transit will be used by millions of people, bring economic opportunities to areas that have been overlooked, reach neighborhoods that have lacked transportation alternatives, and take people where they want to go. The economic growth and quality of life improvements that come with infrastructure development make it one of the best investments our country can make — and that is something we all, Democrats and Republicans, can agree on.

• Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, New York Democrat, is Ranking Member on the House Joint Economic Committee and serves on the House Committee on Financial Services and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Chicago in minutes? Columbus named as finalist for Hyperloop

Columbus has been named one of 10 international finalists to house Hyperloop One, the high-speed transportation network.

Hyperloop One is a worldwide challenge to create a transportation system that moves both people and products quickly. The Hyperloop transports pods of people and goods through a tube — traveling 671 miles per hour. The pods could travel from Columbus to Chicago in 29 minutes. The pod could also travel to Pittsburgh from Columbus in 18 minutes.

The other finalists in the U.S. are: Dallas-Laredo-Houston; Cheyenne-Denver-Pueblo, and; Miami-Orlando. Non-U.S. finalists include Toronto-Montreal; Mexico City-Guadalajara; Edinburgh-London; Mumbai-Chennai, and; Bengaluru-Chennai.

Tired of commuting between his Dublin home and Chicago office, Tim Powell is excited about how Hyperloop One could help him — but he has lots of questions.

“Is it safe? Would I throw up?” Powell, 45, asked.

Powell and central Ohio inched closer Thursday to getting to Chicago in 29 minutes using the tube transportation touted by Hyperloop One. The company selected the Chicago-to-Columbus-to-Pittsburgh suggested route as one of 10 international finalists.

The company issued a challenge, seeking the best place to build the new mode of transportation. Initially, 2,600 private-public partnerships registered from 100 countries to try to convince Hyperloop One they were the best place for the project.

Hyperloop One seeks to build something like a pneumatic tube that can move pods of people or goods at speeds up to 671 miles per hour. That means trips to and from Pittsburgh would take 18 minutes and the 360-mile trip to and from Chicago could take 29 minutes. The idea is to provide the capacity of a train at the speed of a plane.

That would be ideal for Powell who lives in Dublin with his wife and three children. A consultant to food service and restaurant companies, Powell spends about 40 percent of his time in a Chicago office. When there, it takes him 45-90 minutes to drive seven miles from where he stays to that Downtown Chicago office, far longer than the projected 29-minute commute from Columbus using Hyperloop.

“That would be awesome. I’d take that in a second,” Powell said. “If it’s 29 minutes, I could go home every night. That would be a huge convenience.”

Still, Powell is concerned about the overall cost of building the system that would link the three cities and their millions in population. He wonders if individual tickets will be comparable to airfare, and he’s particularly curious about how passengers will be protected.

“I’d also want to know the safety of … going 671 miles per hour in a tube,” Powell said.

There aren’t answers to many of his questions. The price of the system is unknown as is how it will be paid for and when it will be completed.

Thursday’s finalist selection is the latest transportation win for Columbus.

Last year, Columbus beat out 77 other cities to win the Smart Cities challenge. It came with $50 million in grants and aims to create a smart transportation system where vehicles and roads communicate with each other, and technology is used to make travel easier, more efficient and cleaner.

“Our goal is to better connect Columbus to the world and we think this helps us do that,” said William Murdoch, executive director of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, which made the local proposal to Hyperloop One.

MORPC also projects the area’s population will grow by 500,000 to 1 million by 2050, noting those people and the goods they will use need efficient, improved and effective transportation.

“The growing region that we are is not afraid to look at our future,” Murdoch said.

One of the reasons Hyperloop One made the Chicago-to-Columbus-Pittsburgh route a finalist is the strong public-private partnerships created across the four states.

Such a route, Hyperloop One believes, could create a “megaregion” that includes 181 universities, 15 professional sports teams and a greatly expanded pool of talent from which employers could choose.

“We have three major regions that aren’t connected now,” Murdoch said. “Why would you not want to connect the fastest growing city in the Midwest with the largest city in the Midwest?”

The mayors of Columbus, Pittsburgh and Chicago and Ohio Gov. John Kasich praised the announcement.

The 10 finalists now must meet with Hyperloop One to explore implementation.

The other U.S. finalists are Dallas-Laredo-Houston; Cheyenne-Denver-Pueblo, and Miami-Orlando.

Non-U.S. finalists are Toronto-Montreal; Mexico City-Guadalajara; Edinburgh-London; Glasgow to Liverpool; Mumbai-Chennai, and Bengaluru-Chennai.

Dayton Daily News

Allegheny Portage Railroad NHS

Free Rangering

Allegheny Portage Railroad is a result of Pennsylvania’s desire to stay relevant in trade and an ingenious way to cross the Allegheny mountains before steam engines were powerful enough to make it through.  With the rise of Canal trade after the completion of the Erie Canal, Pennsylvania scrambled to compete and shorten the 23 day wagon trip from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.  The Portage is a series of 10 inclines that that carry canal boats up and over the mountains, porting them all the way down to the to the other side so they could float their way to Pittsburgh shortening the trip from Philly to 4 days.  Here is a diagram from the exhibit:map APRR

The visit begins with a movie, and a pretty good one.  It is told in the first person and has great canal footage of boats actually utilizing a canal including the use of tow mulefurs Allegheny RRs. …

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