EUROPE: A protocol setting out plans to study the feasibility of extending a 1 520 mm gauge line to Bratislava and Wien has been signed by the national railways of Slovakia, Austria, Ukraine and Russia. The hope is that a through broad gauge route will help to attract freight traffic from Asia to Europe to the railways.

The study agreed on March 28 will look into the technical and financial feasibility of modernising and extending the broad gauge line which was built to transport iron ore from the Ukraine to steel works at Kosice in eastern Slovakia.

RZD President Vladimir Yakunin told a press conference in Bratislava that the cost is estimated at US$4·3bn, which could be met by the four national railways. A business plan will be prepared in 2009 setting out the project timescales and investments required.