On November 20 the US Congress passed a funding appropriations bill for the 2005 fiscal year, allocating $7·6bn for public transport, a 5·2% increase over FY 2004. This includes $3·3bn for capital investment, $1·4bn for new starts and $1·2bn for fixed guideway modernisation. The bill also provides $1·4bn for the Federal Railroad Administration, including $1·2bn for Amtrak, $19·3m for the Next Generation High Speed Rail programme and $2m for maglev development.

An expanded version of London’s east - west Crossrail project was unveiled on December 15 by Superlink Ltd, a group of experienced rail managers. They believe Crossrail will fail because of ’a huge gap in funding’, whereas Superlink would cost 25% more at £13·2bn but generate £10bn in revenue, leaving a funding gap only half as big as Crossrail’s £6·5bn. The figures are based on net present values over a 60-year life.

Russian Railways launched a dedicated service to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on November 21. Pending completion of a new branch into the airport in 2007, the service runs every 2h from Savelovsky station in the city to Lobyna, from where bus shuttles are provided to Sheremetyevo terminals 1 and 2. Journey time is 25min for the rail leg and the same for the bus shuttle; the fare is 50 roubles.

SNCF and RFF officially opened the Grande Ceinture Ouest orbital rail service between Noisy-le-Roi and Saint-Germain-en-Laye on December 11 (RG 6.04 p322), linking suburbs to the west of Paris. Trains run half-hourly off-peak and every 15min at peak times. Restoring passenger services to a line which lost them in 1936 has cost €90·5m, of which 90% was funded by the Ile-de-France region.