Australia: On March 15 Minister for Transport & Regional Services Mark Vaile announced the federal government’s approval of a A$78m 10-year rescue package and works programme for Tasmania’s railways. The 1 067 mm gauge lines between Hobart, Launceston and Burnie will be upgraded under a plan announced in December 2005, but delayed pending agreement between the state government and Pacific National.

The federal government has allocated A$45m for the Wodonga Rail Bypass, which will replace the line through central Wodonga with a new alignment to eliminate a sharp curve and 10 level crossings on the Melbourne – Sydney route.

Uganda: Parliament has approved a USh46bn loan from the World Bank which will be used to modernise rail freight transport and border crossings with neighbouring east African countries. The government is providing Uganda Railways Corp concessionaire Rift Valley Railways with a US$15m political risk guarantee, underwritten by the World Bank’s Multilateral Insurance Guarantee Agency. Kenya has provided a similar $45m guarantee.

USA: The Senate has passed a $463·5bn federal funding bill running to September 30, including $9·0bn of transport spending authorised under the SAFETEA-LU programme.