Following testing, on February 20 Hupac Intermodal launched a five times per week service carrying semitrailers from Antwerpen to Barcelona Morrot in partnership with SNCF and RENFE.

On February 19 Israel Railways began hauling ammonia by rail between the port of Haifa and the Tzefa freight terminal near Dimona. The weekly trains carry 44 containers each with 20 tonnes of ammonia, and two tanks of neutralising materials to be used in the event of a leak. Each train will replace 44 lorries, with the use of the segregated rail alignment helping to increase safety. Traffic is predicted to reach 60 000 tonnes/year.

On February 15 the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration issued a final rule requiring railways to submit Comprehensive Oil Spill Response Plans for routes used by trains transporting oil in blocks of 20 or more loaded wagons or with a total of 35 loaded oil tank wagons. Operators are required to ensure that personnel and equipment are prepared to respond in the event of an accident, and identify the organisations, personnel and equipment capable of mitigating a worst-case discharge.

InterRail has made permanent its rail service from the Russian port of Nakhodka-Vostochny to Uzbekistan, having operated it on a trial basis since March 2018. There is now a third block train, offering a departure in each direction every 10 days with a transit time of 11 or 12 days. Imports to Uzbekistan include car parts, household goods and resins, with exporting including cotton yarn and pulp, textiles, copper, cellulose, and fertilisers.

Alberta's provincial government has signed agreements with Canadian National and Canadian Pacific to lease 4 400 DOT 117J and retrofitted DOT 117R tank wagons to move oil sands crude to clear a glut that has depressed prices. The two railways are expected to start moving 20 000 barrels/day per day from July, ramping up to 120 000 per day by mid-2020. The deal is expected to cost C$3·7bn over three years, but Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said it would generate C$5·9bn of revenue over the same period.

Genesee & Wyoming Australia has been awarded a contract to operate special trains to move military vehicles and artillery from the Berrimah rail yard near Darwin to and from the national defence training ground at Cultana in northern South Australia.

The Government of Canada, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and CN have signed an agreement for 4 km of double-tracking and grade separation to increase capacity on the Burrard Inlet rail corridor serving the south shore port area in Vancouver.’The Port of Vancouver is the busiest global trade export gateway of Canada and we must make the most of the existing limited assets’, said CN President & CEO JJ Ruest. ‘Increasing run-through rail capacity with strategic investments will benefit all aspects of the supply chain.’

On February 21 Channel Tunnel concessionaire Eurotunnel’s parent company Getlink said the current political uncertainty about Brexit was ‘likely to affect its activity in the first weeks following‘ the UK‘s departure from the EU which is scheduled for March 29. Getlink said it was ‘confident in the commitment‘ of the UK and France to quickly set up effective border control procedures without any operational discontinuity. It has set a group financial objective of 2019 EBITDA of €560m in the case of a ‘no deal‘ or €575m if an agreement is reached, at an exchange rate of £1 to €1·128.

Kolskaya Mining & Metallurgical Co has awarded Freight One a contract to transport all of the nickel matte it produces. Around 140 000 tonnes/year will be moved between Monchegorsk and the Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta Oy plant at Harjavalta in Finland using containers on flat wagons.