THIS MONTH’S trawl of new line proposals produced one or two unlikely candidates. We have noted in the past the enthusiasm of various Central American countries for new lines linking ports on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, but the latest Trans-Isthmus project is truly ambitious. Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have signed a free trade agreement, which could be extended to include Mexico by the end of the year. This is expected to lead to an upsurge in freight movement, much of which could move by rail.

Proposals envisage a network stretching to 3000 km to include new construction and rehabilitation of the run-down railways of various gauges that eke out a precarious existence in the three countries. Honduras National Railway General Manager Mario Quintanilla was expecting to initial a formal agreement with his counterparts, but precisely when anything concrete will happen remains a little up in the air.

For students of improbable railways, try this. Korean National Railroad has apparently been looking at the possibility of building an Inter-Korean line along the east coast by 2012. The US$2·1bn line would link Kangneung and Kosong, so tourists from the south could visit the Mt Kumkang area in the north. A related plan is a 170 km line completing a route along the east coast of South Korea from Samchok to Pohang. A KNR spokesman described the project as helping promote inter-Korean exchange in preparation for better relations between South and North. o