The first freight train used the newly built link from Astara in Azerbaijan to the similarly named freight facility on the Iranian side of the border on February 8. Six wagons from Russia were loaded with timber and MDF.

Meeting in Ljubljana on February 6-7, representatives of SŽ-Tovorni Promet, HŽ Cargo, Srbija Kargo, Željeznice Republike Srpske, Makedonski Železnici Transport and Montecargo signed a memorandum of co-operation agreeing to work together to develop new services to support a shift in freight from road to rail. Plans include a Sava Express service between Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia.

Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority plans to lease five U30 locomotives from South Africa in order to meet the demand expected to arise from government regulations designed to compel manufacturers in Zambia to send 30% of their bulk freight by rail.

RZD Logistics has added Krasnoyarsk as a starting point for containers using the Panda Land Bridge service to Chengdu in China. The intial trip carried 41 40ft containers loaded with forest products.

National railway KTZ, the Kazakhstan Association of IT Companies, Atameken, Transtelecom, Kazakhtelecom, IBM, Microsoft, SAP and BPC Banking Technologies recently attended a conference to discus the potential introduction of blockchain technology to the rail industry. ‘Digitalisation of production processes can improve the quality of services’, said KTZ Director of Automation & Digitalisation Serik Tolebayev. ‘One of its promising directions today is blockchain technology, which will simplify and improve the process of information exchange and storage between the participants of the logistics chain.’

Freight operators Cross Rail, BLS Cargo, Rotterdam Rail Feeding, InRail and Captrain are now using Hit Rail's Hermes VPN for the exchange of train composition messages in ‘soft compliance‘ with Telematics Applications for Freight TSI requirements.

Biofuel supply chain company Eco-Energy Distribution Services has opened an ethanol block train facility in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is served by CSX.

Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority is negotiating a track access agreement with private operator Calabash Freight Ltd, which has been conducting trial running between Ndola and Dar es Salaam.