Argentina:The Tecnicagua consultancy developing plans to re-open the route from Mendoza to Los Andes in Chile has signed a letter of intent to appoint state-owned development bank BICE as its financial agent. Should Tecnicagua win a call for tenders which is expected before the end of 2003, an international bond issue would raise US$130m to fund the infrastructure component of the US$260m scheme (RG 12.02 p726).

Bangladesh: Presenting his budget to Parliament, Finance & Planning Minister Saifur Rahman said the government had allocated US$238m for railway development in the 2003-04 financial year. He believes the acquisition of new rolling stock and infrastructure modernisation would help BR ’evolve as a self-reliant and efficient commercial entity’.

France: The Picardie region is providing 47% of the €34m cost of upgrading the 72 km Amiens - Compiègne route for 140 km/h operation, due for completion in 2006. The remainder is being provided by SNCF (42%), the département of Oise (7%) and RFF (3%).

South Africa: Spoornet is to receive an additional R2bn from the government for capacity improvements.

United Kingdom: On August 13 FirstGroup declared its cash offer for GBRailways (RG 8.03 p474) unconditional in all respects. Initially open until August 6, the offer was extended by a week; on August 13 FirstGroup held 6 743 490 shares, representing 73·98% of GBRailways’ current issued ordinary capital.

The Scottish Executive has awarded Kier Minerals a £3·9m Freight Facilities Grant to reinstate a 3·5 km rail link to serve a new open cast coal mine at Greenburn. A Light Railway Order came into force on July 11.

Zimbabwe: NRZ is to use an additional Z$1bn of government funding for the rehabilitatation of rolling stock and 10 locomotives, and to refurbish signalling equipment on the Victoria Falls line.