New Mexico’s Rail Runner Express commuter rail service was inaugurated on July 14, with trains initially running between Albuquerque and Highway 550 station in Sandoval County. Services are expected to be extended to Belen in September, with nine stations open by the end of this year, and to reach Santa Fe by the end of 2008. Travel will remain free until October 14, but a zonal fare structure is to be introduced next year.

On June 28 the Charlotte Metropolitan Transit Commission unanimously approved the route for the 17·7 km Northeast Corridor light rail line from the city centre to the University of North Carolina. Estimated to cost around $585m, this is expected to be the next route to be built after the 15·5 km South Line which opens next year. The first Siemens S70 car for this route arrived at the CATS maintenance depot on June 23, and is expected to start test running this month on a 2·1 km test track beside the yard.

CPCS Transcom has been appointed to assist the Nigerian government with the development of a metro network in Abuja. Provision for the construction of a mass transit system was made when the new capital was laid out in the 1970s, including strategic corridor alignments, but the city’s future population is now expected to be much greater than the 1·6 million inhabitants initially projected.

Dubai’s Roads & Transport Authority has invited international bids for a joint venture concession to operate and maintain the Dubai Metro network now under construction. The first section of the Red Line is expected to be completed in September 2009.

CAPTION: Preparations are being made to open the Bondy - Aulnay tram-train route to the east of Paris in the autumn. On July 13 RATP’s Speno rail grinder was at work when one of the first TGV trainsets to take over Paris - Metz - Luxembourg services from June 26 was passing Bondy on the adjacent main line Photo: J-P Masse