GAUGE conversion work on the Bangalore - Hassan - Mangalore corridor in southern India is to be completed by December 2004, following the decision to form a Special Purpose Vehicle to fund and manage the Rs1·5bn project.

Indian Railways signed an accord in June with Karnataka’s state-owned infrastructure development corporation K-RIDE, covering gauge conversion work on the 142 km between Hassan and Mangalore (RG 6.02 p322). IR has already converted 189 km between Hassan and Sakleshpur. When completed, the route is expected to handle between 3 and 5 million tonnes of iron ore, manganese, granite and chemicals being shipped through Mangalore port by a consortium of industries including the National Mineral Development Corp.

K-RIDE is currently working on four rail projects within Karnataka, including the Rs2·7bn Sholapur - Gadag line. The corporation hopes to form a second SPV to fund construction of the 58 km new new line between Hubli and Ankola, which is estimated to cost Rs10bn.

H Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee laid a foundation stone on June 6 for a 2 km railway bridge across the Kosi river at Nirmali, in Bihar state. Expected to be completed in four years, the Rs3·2bn bridge is one of four being funded through the National Rail Vikas Yojana programme; it replaces a rail link washed away in 1934.