Anxious to get rail service to Dulles International Airport as soon as possible, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has proposed that it should build the planned 37 km metro extension from West Falls Church, now priced at $3·8bn. The current schedule calls for the 18·6 km first segment to Tysons Corner and Reston to open in 2011, with the rest following four years later. President & Chief Executive James Bennett suggested on December 20 that the agency should take over operation of the 27 km Dulles Toll Road, which it leases to the state of Virginia, and use the revenue stream to help fund the rail link. This could reduce the time needed for planning approval.

Amsterdam transport operator GVB is planning to order between 150 and 300 new metro cars to operate the north-south line now under construction and to replace its existing stock from 2008 onwards. Specifications are currently being drawn up, and GVB is investigating the potential for conversion of the network to driverless operation.

The Philippine Department of Transport & Communications has approved private-sector proposals to build Manila metro Line 7 as a BOT concession. The 20 km route would link Caloocan City with North Avenue, serving Fairview, Batasan, Diliman and Philcoa. Work is expected to get underway this year for opening in 2009. Total cost of the project is put at US$1·2bn, of which the promoters will provide US$300m in equity and the rest in loans, plus a further US$500m for related property development projects.

Hamburger Hochbahn AG has awarded a €40m contract to Siemens Transportation Systems for upgrading of the train control equipment on parts of Lines U2 and U3. To be completed by 2012, the City East project will see the installation of an electronic control centre to replace several relay interlockings controlling 25 route-km, 28 stations and six stabling facilities. Two remote-controlled interlockings will control a further 9route-km, nine stations and three stabling facilities. Siemens completed HHA's first large electronic interlocking at Farmsen in June 2004.

MBTA has reached an agreement with AnsaldoBreda over the problem-ridden Type 8 LRVs it ordered for Boston's Green Line more than a decade ago. The operator halted deliveries in December 2004 after 47 of the planned 100 cars had arrived, describing the design as 'a lemon'. The past year has seen 10 cars modified, and these are now working satisfactorily. Under the deal, the other 37 cars will be fixed, and MBTA will spend $9·5m on infrastructure improvements. The agency will pay the final $79m of the $222m price if AnsaldoBreda delivers 85 cars 'which perform to contract specification' by January 2007. The supplier will provide spare parts in lieu of the last 15 vehicles.

CAPTION: Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky visited the Siemens SGP plant in Wien on December 14 to see the 40 six-section GT12N cars being built for the Hungarian capital. The 53 m long Bo'2'Bo'Bo'2'Bo' cars are the longest low-floor trams to be ordered. Each 2 400 mm wide car weighing 66 tonnes will be powered by eight 100 kW motors

The start of work on the Gautrain regional rail project linking Pretoria and Johannesburg has been delayed further. The 80 km network was originally due for completion by 2006, and the regional government said in December that it hoped construction could start in January so that the line would be ready for the 2010 World Cup. However, the Bombela consortium selected as preferred budder for the DBOM concession had not reached financial close by early January. Around three months will be needed for public consultation and approval of the Environmental Management Plan. There are also two pending applications to the High Court by residents' associations objecting to the route.

CAPTION: On test from the Alstom plant at Belfort are the first two pre-series Class BB827300 electric locos being built for SNCF's Transilien business unit. The 60 Prima derivatives were ordered in February 2004 to replace older locos on outer-suburban services radiating from Paris

Photo:V Torterottot

Réseau Ferré de France has called tenders for consultants to assist with the development of an orbital suburban route in northeast Paris. Forming part of the contrat de plan between the government and Ile de France, the Tangentielle Nord project envisages a 28 km route linking Sartrouville with Noisy-le-Sec, using new tracks laid alongside the existing Grande Ceinture orbital freight line. Studies for the first section between Epinay and Le Bourget with six stations are to be undertaken this year, in parallel with the application for construction powers.