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Intelligence August 2007

01 Aug 2007

Argentina: Buenos Aires suburban operator TBA has introduced three air-conditioned nine-car trainsets on the Sarmiento route, under a 318m pesos programme to refurbish 125 EMU cars funded by the government.

Australia: On June 19 Victorian Minister for Roads & Ports Tim Pallas announced that Leighton Contractors had won a A$116m contract to design and build the Dynon Port Rail Link, which will provide 24 h rail access along a fully-segregated double-track route into the Port of Melbourne (RG 6.06 p308).

Belgium: To further separate infrastructure from operations, 1 500 Infrabel staff working mainly in commercial roles at stations are to transfer to SNCB. The programme is due for completion by the end of this year.

Canada: A report by consultancy Tecsult has backed proposal to open two new stations serving McGill University and Edouard Montpetit on AMT's Deux Montagnes commuter line in Montréal.

Denmark: Testing of the Ansaldobreda IC4 DMUs in passenger service has begun between Århus and Aalborg.

Europe: The European Conference of Ministers of Transport has been renamed the International Transport Forum.

Hungary: Rail services between Budapest Nyugati station and Terminal 1 at Ferihegy Airport were launched on July 16. The EU cohesion fund provided €21·3m towards the project.

Ireland: Last month Iarnród Éireann and Mott MacDonald Pettit began public consultation on the detailed routing of the 5·2 km Interconnector tunnel which will carry DART suburban electric services between Dublin's Docklands and Heuston stations. An application for a Rail Order permitting construction will be made in 2009, and work is expected to start in 2010 for completion in 2015.

Italy: Modena Transport Agency has appointed Steer Davies Gleave to review options for improving the 20 km railway between Modena and Sassuolo, considering integration with other routes and the feasibility of introducing tram-train services.

Libya: Under an agreement between China's Ministry of Railways and the Libyan government, a 190 km railway costing an estimated US$477m is to be built in western Libya by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corp. A second line may be built jointly with Libya at a later stage.

Netherlands: Two-thirds of the shares in state-owned rail, sneltram and bus concessionaire Connexxion are to be sold to a joint venture owned 75% by Transdev and 25% by Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten for around €250m. The remaining third of the business will follow within five years.

Nigeria: A refurbished 13-coach train conveying 1 560 seated passengers has been introduced between Iddo in Lagos and Alagbado 25 km away in Ogun state. NRC spokesman David Ndakotsu said it includes two air-conditioned coaches for the 'comfort of senior civil servants and business executives.'

Malaysia: By the end of the month Kulala Lumpur's Sentral station will be equipped with common-use airline check-in facilities, enabling all airlines to offer city-centre check-in for passengers travelling to the International Airport by KL Ekspress.

Serbia: On June 14 month the UN Mission in Kosovo announced that NewCo Ferronikeli had signed a €2m five-year contract with Kosovo Railways for the transport of 1 million tonnes of magnesite a year from the Golesh mine to its plant at Glogovac.

South Africa: SARCC has launched a 530-seat Soweto Business Express limited-stop service to Johannesburg using eight dedicated coaches upgraded from 5M2A suburban vehicles at a cost of 2m rand. Aimed at young professionals, the train offers laptop power-points, internet access and free newspapers and coffee. Similar Simon's Town — Cape Town and Pretoria — Johannesburg services will be introduced within 12 months.

UK: Inter-city operator Midland Main Line and online ticket retailer TheTrainline have begun trials of mobile telephone message ticketing with a corporate travel customer.

USA: Shortline operator Watco has formed Michigan Central Railway to operate 600 km of former Norfolk Southern routes in the state, from Ypsilanti to Kalamazoo and Jackson to Lansing, and the line from Grand Rapids to Elkhart, Indiana. Michigan Central will also acquire NS trackage rights on the Amtrak-owned line between Kalamazoo and the Michigan-Indiana border.

A Washington DC – Miami luxury service will run from November 6 to January 4 on a trial basis, with Amtrak trains hauling seven coaches belonging to GrandLuxe Rail Journeys, formerly American Orient Express. Amenities will include five-course meals, butler service in the four sleeping cars and a lounge car, with fares ranging from $789 to $2 490. Services from Chicago to San Francisco and Los Angeles will also be offered.