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July 16, 2016

British rail minister Claire Perry steps down

British rail minister Claire Perry steps down

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

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British Rail minister Claire Perry resigned on Thursday evening, after continuing problems with Southern Rail.

File photo of Claire Perry, 2015.
Image: Paul Bigland.

Southern has an ongoing dispute with the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) about increasing driver-only services, without conductors or guards. The union objected, citing concerns about job losses and driver safety.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said “This utter mess is now an embarrassment to our city” and that he was “calling on the government to strip Southern of its franchise and take over the temporary responsibility of running these services.” Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin focused instead on the union, saying “Most industrial disputes are about threats to employment or conditions so the RMT’s attitude is absurd. There is no threat to safety, no threat to jobs, no threat to pay and yet they continue disrupting passengers’ lives on a daily basis.”

In an attempt to reduce cancellations and delays, on Monday the company cut 341 trains a day, in light of the current staff shortages. They said since this change the trains’ reliability improved from 60% on-time to 80%.



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September 10, 2015

Elizabeth surpasses Victoria as longest-serving UK sovereign

Elizabeth surpasses Victoria as longest-serving UK sovereign

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

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Queen Elizabeth on August 10.
Image: Mark Owens/Ministry of Defence.

Yesterday, Elizabeth II officially surpassed her great-great-grandmother Victoria, to become the longest-serving monarch of the United Kingdom.

Victoria was queen for much of the 19th century, with a grand total of 23,226 days, 16 hours, and 23 minutes. However, the precise moment in time when Elizabeth reached her milestone remains a mystery because it isn’t known for certain exactly what time the Queen’s father and predecessor, George VI, passed away.

The milestone was the subject of widespread praise from around the world including Kamalesh Sharma, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, of which Elizabeth is ceremonial head. British Prime Minister David Cameron said that her reign was “truly humbling” and had been a “golden thread” for British society in the post-war era. He was joined by members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The occasion was also marked in London by a flotilla proceeding down the River Thames. Buckingham Palace unveiled photographs taken by Mary McCartney, daughter of musician Sir Paul, in which the Queen was sitting in the room where she meets the Prime Minister on a weekly basis.

However, the Queen was not present in London because she is currently on holiday in Scotland. She appeared to underplay the significance of the day, only briefly mentioning it whilst attending the opening of a restored railway line in the Scottish Borders region.

Accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, and Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, she met crowds of admirers who had turned out in force to welcome her. The First Minister emphasised the Queen’s “dedication, wisdom and exemplary sense of public service”.



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August 22, 2015

\’Terror\’ shooting wounds three on international train in Belgium

‘Terror’ shooting wounds three on international train in Belgium

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

 
— August 24, 2015
 
This article accurately records what was at the time widely reported by stating that two US Marines tackled the gunman. He was tackled by several passengers and train staff. These included a US Air Force Airman and a US National Guard Specialist.
 

File image of a Thalys train in Amsterdam.
Image: User:T Houdijk.

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A gunman yesterday wounded three people on an international train in Belgium, near the French border. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called the shooting a “terrorist attack” and French counterterrorism police are investigating.

Two United States Marines on the train heard a weapon being loaded in a bathroom. When the man exited the toilet, the unarmed Marines tackled him. One Marine was injured. French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade was injured slightly by broken glass.

A man, believed to be a 26-year-old Moroccan, was arrested at the station in Arras, France. Some passengers reportedly leapt from the train as it passed through Henin-Beaumont. The high-speed Thalys service was headed from Amsterdam to Paris.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve travelled to Arras after the incident. He has met with passengers including Anglade. He said the two Marines are “particularly courageous and showed great bravery in very difficult circumstances […] Without their composure we could have been confronted with a terrible incident.” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls also expressed gratitude to the Marines.

The suspect is reported to have been carrying knives, a kalashnikov rifle, and a handgun. Press reports suggest intelligence agencies were aware of him. Rail operator SNCF say over 550 passengers were on board. Reports indicate the shooting was towards the rear.

Local prosecutors said counterterror resources were involved “in view of the weaponry used, the way it happened and the context”. French President Francois Hollande promised “Everything is being done to shed light on this tragedy.”



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March 4, 2014

Rail border between the Ukraine and Russia remains open

Rail border between the Ukraine and Russia remains open

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

2013 photo of a Ukrainian Railways train departing Kiev for the Crimea
Image: calflier001.

Despite the intervention in parts of Crimea, Ukraine by forces connected to Russia in the past few days, the rail border between the countries remains open today. Neither Ukrzaliznytsia, the Ukrainian national railway, nor Russian Railways have any announcements on their website regarding any changes in service.

According to Ukrainian Independent Information Agency, people entering the Ukraine from Russia are receiving extra scrutiny at at the border. At platform checkpoints for passport control, “additional steps are being organized in relation to regional transport police to deal the possibility of localization of possible conflicts.”((uk)) If the guards suspect people are entering for the purpose of destabilizing the country, the police reserve the right to deny them entry to the country.

The Baltic News Agency((ru)) reports that Russians traveling via train between the two countries have been turned away at the border including a man traveling from Yekaterinburg to Simferopol, a Russian Naval Infantry reservist((ru)).

The 2014 Winter Paralympics are scheduled to start Friday in Sochi, Russia and some attendees, including Wikinews reporters, are scheduled to arrive at the Games via trains between Russia and the Ukraine.



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August 26, 2013

Migrant train derails in Tabasco, Mexico

Migrant train derails in Tabasco, Mexico

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Monday, August 26, 2013

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At least five people have died and sixteen were injured in a train derailment in Tabasco, Mexico yesterday, according to the director of Tabasco civil protection. The cargo train is often used by migrants.

The derailment occurred at approximately 3:00 a.m local time (8:00 a.m UTC), with eight of the twelve cars overturning. The state government reported that at least 250 Honduras citizens were traveling on the train, which had a scrap metal cargo. The train company and rescue workers continue to search the wreckage and treat survivors, but the remote and marshy site hinders efforts. Two cranes have been dispatched to assist.

Mario Bustillos Borge, the Red Cross chief in Tabasco, noted that current information on the numbers deceased and injured was hard to confirm due to the complex nature of the rescue. “There are some very high estimates, and others that are more conservative,” he said. The first car and the engine, which did not overturn, were used to transport the injured to a local hospital in Veracruz.

The train, dubbed ‘The Beast‘ by locals, was headed north from the Guatemalan border at the time of the accident. Migrants regularly try to hitch a ride to the US by climbing onto its roof or in between cars. Preliminary reports suggest that the tracks had shifted following heavy rains.



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April 23, 2012

Netherlands train crash kills one, injures at least 117

Netherlands train crash kills one, injures at least 117

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Correction — April 28, 2012
 
This article says the collision occurred “yesterday”; in fact, it occurred on Saturday.
 

Monday, April 23, 2012

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Two passenger trains collided head-on in the area of Sloterdijk in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, local authorities have confirmed. One 68-year-old woman died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident. At least 117 were also reportedly injured in the crash.

One of the two trains involved in the crash was en route from Den Helder to Nijmegen while the second was going between Uitgeest and the Dutch capital. Neither train derailed. Reports suggest the two trains, one a regional stop system vehicle and the other an inter-city rail service, were not seriously damaged in the incident yesterday at 1830 CEST (1630 UTC).

The exact number of people injured varies by source; BBC News Online has reported approximately 125 on Saturday and 117 Sunday, while the London Stock Exchange reported a figure of 121 experiencing minor, severe or very severe injuries yesterday. Passengers were assisted out of the train carriages, with those injured transported to hospital.

Speaking on behalf of police, Ed Kraszewski informed Netherlands news network AT5 of 51 individuals being “seriously or very seriously injured” and another seventy suffering minor injuries. Kraszewski commented on how the spaciousness of one of the train’s carriages possibly contributed to the passengers’ injuries and spoke of the assumption that “many people were thrown around the train by the crash; against walls, seats and other people”, adding that neck injuries and broken bones were among the kinds of injury experienced.

How the two trains ended up travelling towards each other is uncertain at this stage. An investigation into the accident’s cause has commenced.

Rail services have been disrupted as a result of the incident, with trains travelling between Amsterdam Centraal and Schiphol Airport being suspended.



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January 22, 2012

China to run low-cost maglevs by next year

China to run low-cost maglevs by next year

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

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China has finished production of the first of its Chinese-built magnetically levitated (maglev) trains in Zhuzhou, Hunan. Described as low-cost and eco-friendly, the trains are to begin operating next year on the Daitai line between Haidian District and Beijing. The three-coached trains are able to carry up to 600 passengers and run at a top speed of 100 km/h.

A maglev train in Shanghai.
Image: Alex Needham.

“It’s ideal for mass transportation, as it is quiet and environmentally friendly”, says Xu Zongxiang, general manager of Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Company. “Its manufacturing cost is about 75 percent of a conventional light-rail train”.

The train claims zero emissions as opposed to conventional trains which run on coal or diesel. It has a minimum turning radius of 50 meters and the production company has stated that it has reduced the risks of derailment and overturning. The company is exploring possible future operations in certain cities. Meanwhile, the Daitai line between Haidian District and Beijing is scheduled to operate by next year.

Liu Youmei, a railway transport specialist, said, “It can be used for public transport in populous areas and at scenic spots with fragile environment.”

China operates the first commercial maglev in the world, in Shanghai between a metro station and Pudong International Airport. The train takes less than 8 minutes to cover the 30 km route with a top speed of 430 km/h. Maglev trains can accelerate to high speeds as they run suspended in the air by magnetism, avoiding friction between the train and the tracks.



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May 24, 2011

Police arrest train passenger for a 16-hour loud cellphone conversation

Police arrest train passenger for a 16-hour loud cellphone conversation

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

An Amtrak train

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A 39-year old woman, Lakeysha Beard, talked for more than half a day while on an Amtrak train going from Oakland, California to Portland, Oregon. The loud cellphone conversation lasted sixteen hours last Monday, after which police stopped the train for twenty minutes at Salem, Oregon to arrest the woman.

According to the British newspaper Daily Mail, Amtrak has no policy forbidding passengers from talking on the phone on a moving train.

In the train’s car, a few passengers asked the woman to put the phone away or to stop a few times during the conversation prior to notifying the train staff. Staff members were unable to convince the woman to end the conversation and stopped the train to arrest the woman and halt the disruption.

As British newspaper Metro mentioned, this cellphone conversation doesn’t beat the record 51-hour phone call by Sunil Prabhakar of New Delhi in 2009.

Sydney, Australia etiquette expert Alex Travers, remarking on a train incident in March, said there is a lack of respect for public transportation from younger generations. The U.S. woman in the current incident, Lakeysha Beard, is 39 years old. Travers said, “I’m afraid we are all in a very bad place as far as we feel about our public transport. People think poorly of it, so therefore they are getting on it with a poor attitude.” She called youths “me-oriented” and said that they “do what they want to do” without thinking about others on the vehicle.



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April 12, 2011

Eleven dead after Belarus subway bombing

Eleven dead after Belarus subway bombing

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

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File photo of Oktyabrskaya station
Image: Redline.

Eleven people are reported dead and more than a hundred injured after a bomb went off in a Minsk Metro station in Minsk, Belarus on Monday evening.

According to witnesses, the explosion happened just after a train entered the Oktyabrskaya station at about 1755 local time (1555 UTC). The explosion reportedly damaged the station, with a section of the ceiling having collapsed.

One witness said: “People are being treated on the spot, some are being taken away, some—those who are conscious and in a more or less normal state—are being helped into ambulances.”

A police spokesperson said security forces were placed in a state of “heightened alert” after the incident, and the area around the station was closed. President Alexander Lukashenko said police forces are to “turn the country upside down” to determine who was responsible.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear, though police are saying that terrorist activity was responsible. “We must find out who gained by undermining peace and stability in the country, who stands behind this,” Lukashenko said. “Who did not like the stability in Belarus?”



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August 16, 2010

Runaway train causes chaos on London Underground

Runaway train causes chaos on London Underground

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Monday, August 16, 2010

A London Underground engineering train ran away and travelled four miles on the Underground’s Northern Line early on Friday morning, resulting in part of the Northern Line, which carries 500,000 passengers daily, being closed for much of the day. The runaway train apparently had an engineering defect.

The London Underground, also known as the Tube, reported that the engineering train had been working on the High Barnet branch of the Northern Line when it broke down at 5.25 a.m. BST (0425 UTC). It was attached to an out-of-service passenger train to be dragged northwards when, for reasons which are being investigated by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, it broke free near Archway station at 6.44 a.m. and started rolling southwards. The train ran through six stations before it was finally brought to a halt by a slight incline in the track at Warren Street at 6.57 a.m.

Passenger Tom Redfern, on the preceding train at Archway, described what happened to the BBC: “As soon as we pulled away the driver came on the tannoy and said, ‘There is an emergency, will everyone move towards the front of the train’. There was a ripple of panic. I went from half asleep to a big adrenaline rush. I thought, ‘Is this it?'”

The passenger train was rerouted onto the City Branch of the Northern Line, and bypassed all stations until Moorgate in an attempt to keep ahead of the runaway, while the runaway was routed down the Charing Cross Branch.

Mr Redfern said: “We went full speed. We knew the situation was dangerous because we were going fast. Even by the driver’s voice, we could tell it was serious.”

London Underground director Richard Parry said that at no time was the runaway closer than 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) to a passenger train. Service was suspended between Finchley Central and Archway, and between Camden Town and Kennington via Charing Cross, while investigations into the cause of the runaway took place.



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