Australia: QR's pre-tax profit for the year to June was up from A$191m to A$287m. Freight traffic was up 8·4% to 175 million tonnes, with QR winning all the coal contracts it bid for in Queensland, and taking 13% of the market in NSW.

Brazil: A pre-feasibility study by the federal district and Goi? s state has rejected proposals for a 300 km/h link between Brasília and Goiânia, as the number of stops would prevent such a speed being achieved. The Ministry of Transport has proposed a further year-long study of the feasibility of a medium-speed passenger service.

Bulgaria: Private freight operator Bulgarian Railway Company ran its first train on the night of December 8, hauling sulphuric acid tanks between Pirdop and the port of Varna.

Canada: On December 1 Tshiuetin Rail Transportation Inc bought the Menihek Subdivision of the Québec North Shore & Labrador Railway from Iron Ore Co for C$1. Owned by three First Nation communities, TRT will run passenger and freight services on the Emeril Junction to Schefferville route, and passenger trains to Sept-Iles.

China: Construction of train ferry wharves at Dalian and Yantai was completed in November. Two ships will enter service on the 164 km route in mid-2006.

Feasibility studies are being reviewed for two lines planned in northern Jiangsu. The 203 km Suzhou - Huaian line would cost 3bn yuan, and the 160 km Lianyungang - Yanchen line would cost 2·9bn yuan.

Czech Republic: SZDC plans to start 25 kV electrification of the 50 km route from Ceské Budejovice to the Austrian border at Ceské Velenice during the coming year, for completion in 2008 at a cost of KC1·9bn.

A ceremony on November 20 marked the completion of three years of work by ZS Brno, Skanska ZS, Subterra and Metrostav to rebuild and realign the 22·6 km Ceské Trebova - Krasíkov section of Corridor 2 for 160 km/h running at a cost of KC4bn. A 440m section of Rheda 2000 ballastless track was laid under licence from Pfleiderer.

Work has begun on a KC3·7bn upgrading of the 24 km Zabreh na Morave - Cervenka route. By October 2008 five flyovers will be built and tracks, bridges and four stations renewed by a consortium of Skanska, Subterra and Leonhard Weiss.

Denmark: Railion Danmark is to cease domestic wagonload traffic during 2006, to focus on the domestic trainload business and international services.

France: SNCF has agreed to integrate the iDTGV company set up to manage low-cost TGV services into the parent Grande Lignes business unit; new iDTGV services will run from January 23 between Paris, Bordeaux and Toulouse and from April 3 between Paris, Avignon, Aix, Toulon and Nice.

Hungary: A consortium of Mavti, Unitef, MSC and Ring Mernoki Iroda has won a €2·28m contract to upgrade the route between Nyiregyhaza and Z? hony on the Ukrainian border, with one-third of the cost to come from EU funding sources.

International: On December 7 Russia's Ministry of Transport and TCDD agreed to set up a train ferry service between Kavkaz and the Turkish port of Samsun.

Israel: ISR introduced passenger services between Be'er Sheva and Dimona on December 17. There are five daily return trips, and 150000 passengers are expected in 2006, rising to 900000 by 2015.

Mexico: TFM SA de CV has been renamed Kansas City Southern de México.

Ferromex has announced plans to purchase Ferrosur for US$307m. Grupo Mexico, the majority owner of Ferromex, said the acquisition will help it compete with KCSM.

Mozambique: This month work will begin in South Africa to rehabilitate the first of 45 CFM diesels and 1000 wagons which are to be modernised at a cost of US$31m. Some will be available for hire through Xitimela Leasing, which is owned 67·5% by CFM and 32·5% by South African investors.

Pakistan: On December 5 Minister for Railways Mian Shamin Haider told a seminar that the government has approved the Access to Track Policy. Pakistani companies will be able to negotiate 20-year contracts to run passenger or freight services on PR lines.

Russia: Central Suburban Passenger Co was founded on December 1, with 50% less two shares owned by RZD and 25% plus one share owned by each of the Moscow region and the city of Moscow. The joint stock company will begin operating the 156 km Moscow - Uzunovo route on January 1.

Slovakia: The SDU state regulatory body was renamed the Office for Regulation of Railway Transport (URZD) on November 1.

United Kingdom: The Crown Prosecution Service announced on December 6 that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute any individuals over the 1999 Ladbroke Grove crash which killed 31 people. Network Rail, as successor to Railtrack, is to be prosecuted for health and safety offences.

USA: FRA has given approval for the maximum speed of passenger trains in the Chicago - Detroit corridor to be raised from 144 to 152 km/h when running under GE Transportation's Incremental Train Control System. Approval for 176 km/h operation will be sought during 2006.

  • CAPTION: Scotland's First Minister Jack McConnell formally re-opened the Larkhall to Hamilton line on December 9. There are two intermediate stations on the 4·7 km branch, where First ScotRail began a half-hourly passenger service to central Glasgow three days later Photo: John Sully
  • CAPTION: The nine members of the New Jersey Shortline Railroad Association which have connections with Conrail reported on November 14 that that they had signed Interline Service Agreements with Conrail, CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern. This will ensure standard interchange terms and competitive access to both CSX and NS services for customers using the nine routes which total almost 300 route-km
  • CAPTION: Before dispatching the Eurotransit 2005 demonstration train to Warszawa, Minsk and Moscow from Berlin on November 16, representatives from DB, PKP, BS and RZD signed an accord to introduce uniform documentation and electronic data exchange to speed up rail freight movements on the corridor this year