SPAIN: Development Minister Ana Pastor announced on March 18 that an open competition would be held to select an 'industrial partner' to take a stake in the freight business of national operator RENFE. According to the minister, work to prepare bidding documentation was already underway.

Freight is one of the four businesses that are being created under RENFE restructuring, the others being responsible for passenger operations, rolling stock maintenance and train leasing. With a fleet of both high-speed and conventional equipment, including freight locomotives and wagons, the leasing business is to be established in April, said Pastor.

Rolling stock formerly operated by RENFE would be made available to new entrants to the Spanish rail market, where long-distance passenger services are to be opened up to competition. This would take place before July this year, said Pastor, as the government's rail reform programme was nearing completion.