Argentina: The latest batch of ex-Portuguese Railways rolling stock to arrive in Buenos Aires included 10 diesel locomotives, three diesel railcars and four three-car EMUs. The first EMU to be refurbished from a previous shipment (RG 2.07 p62) has begun service trials on the Roca route to Temperley.

Bangladesh: Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ismat Jahan signed the Trans-Asian Railway Network agreement on November 9, bringing the number of signatories to 20 (RG 11.05 p728).

China: Construction of a 502·4 km coastal railway between Xiamen and Shenzhen was launched on November 23. Designed for 200 km/h operation, the direct line is expected to cut the journey time between the two cities from 11 h to less than 3 h when it opens in 2011 at an estimated cost of 41·7bn yuan. Construction of a 603·6 km line linking Fuzhou and Putian to Nanchang began on the same day; this is to be completed by 2012 for 51·8bn yuan.

Czech Republic: On November 21 SZDC formally energised the 9·8 km double-track link between Ostrava's main and Kuncice stations. The KC875m project undertaken by a consortium of Tchas Ostrava and Firesta-Fiser since December 2005 included 19·5 km of 3 kV DC electrfication. The new Ostrava-Centrum station will be renamed Ostrava-Stodolní.

On November 20 the SRB consortium of Subterra, OHL ZS and Tchas Ostrava began a KC5bn upgrade of the 19·3 km between Bystrice nad Olsí and the Slovak border at Mosty u Jablunkova. This involves complete renewal of the track and 3 kV DC overhead to allow 160 km/h, resignalling, and a major overhaul of the Jablunkov tunnels.

From January 1 the freight activities of open-access operator Viamont will be hived off into subsidiary company Viamont Cargo.

France: Public consultation took place between November 19 and December 21 in the 15 communes affected by the CDG Express project, which would enable trains to run non-stop between Paris Est and the city's main airport in 20 min (RG 9.06 p485).

Work began last month to build a new island platform for SNCF TER services adjacent to Jean Macé station on Lyon metro Line B and light rail route T2. Due to open in December 2009, the €25·5m project is being funded by the city and regional authorities (73·5%), RFF (19·8%), transport authority Sytral (5·3%) and SNCF (1·3%).

A €220m remodelling of Marseille Saint-Charles station was completed with the opening on December 10 of a 4 300 m² concourse to the north of the existing building. Started in 1998, the programme included resignalling for TGV Méditerranée.

India: On December 11 IR signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chhattisgarh state government, National Mineral Development Corp and Steel Authority of India for construction of a 95 km rail link from Dalli-Rajhara to iron ore deposits at Rowghat. The Rs3bn initial phase will be funded by SAIL and completed in five years, with a second phase taking the line 140 km on to Jagdalpur.

The final plans for the first two Dedicated Freight Corridors were officially approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on November 27. Construction of the Mumbai - Delhi and Ludhiana - Sonnagar routes is now expected to cost Rs282bn.

International: UIC now has 191 members with the recent admission of Macedonian operator MZ Transport, Macedonian Railway Infrastructure and Hungary's MÁV-Start as active members. CFL Cargo, Bratislava Regional Co, Eurocom and Regio Trans SRL Brasov are associate members, while Thalys, Port Autonôme du Havre and Brazil's AD Trem are affiliate members.

Ireland: In November Iarnród Éireann began tracklaying for the €106·5m re-opening of the 58 km Ennis - Athenry line which last saw passenger services in 1976. A Galway - Limerick commuter service will be introduced in 2009 as the first phase of the Western Rail Corridor project.

Japan: All Nippon Airways is to incorporate JR East's Suica transport ticketing functionality on the smart cards its passengers use for paperless air travel.

Myanmar: Double-tracking of the route from Pyinmana to Thazi has been completed, with the first trains running on October 20. Thazi - Kyauksa - Myohaung followed on November 24, and a ceremony to mark the completion of double-tracking between Yangon and Mandalay was due to be held in December.

Netherlands: The province of Gelderland and NS have erected a sign on the main A12 Utrecht - Arnhem road giving real-time information on the time taken to travel into central Utrecht by rail from Veenendaal-de Klomp station, which has extensive parking.

Philippines: The Department of Transport­ation & Communications is to establish a Railway Training Centre and rolling stock refurbishment facility in Caloocan. A Railway Academy has already been established at Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

Russia: On December 14 Alstom Transport and Transmash Holding (p44) signed an agreement allowing for the establishment of joint companies for the production of rolling stock and components.

Spain: On December 5 a new alignment 10·2 km long was brought into service on the Zaragoza - Canfranc route, avoiding the centre of Huesca and eliminating six level crossings. The €30·4m project included construction of a 1·7 km branch to Huesca station (RG 1.05 p12).

Vías y Construcciones and Comsa have been awarded a €64·9m contract to convert a 19·4 km section of the 27 km Castelbisball/Papiol - Mollet Sant Fost route to dual gauge, enabling 1 435 mm gauge freight trains using the high speed line to the French border to avoid the centre of Barcelona. Work is due to take 28 months to complete.

UAE: Consultants are to be appointed in 2008 to develop a national rail strategy for the United Arab Emirates. Proposed lines would link Abu Dhabi with Dubai and the Saqr Port at Ras al-Khaimah, initially for freight but with a passenger service contemplated in the longer term.

UK: First Capital Connect trains began using a £70m station beneath London St Pancras International on December 9. The 400 m by 23 m sub-surface facility replaced the cramped King's Cross Thameslink.

USA: The $16·9m Milwaukee Intermodal Station was officially opened on November 26. The structure dating from 1965 has been rebuilt as a city landmark and gateway, linking Amtrak rail and coach services.

Vietnam: The government of Vietnam announced on November 25 that it had allocated US$160m to modernise the 285 km metre-gauge line between Yen Vien in northern Hanoi and Lao Cai on the Chinese border. Work will start this year for completion in 2015. ADB is contributing US$60m, with US$80m coming from France.

Zimbabwe: NRZ has introduced commuter services from Harare to Marondera and Norton under a programme aimed at revitalising passenger services.

  • CAPTION: On December 9 the Arriva PCC joint venture of the UK-based transport group and the Polish freight operator began operating passenger services under a three-year contract with Kujawsko-Pomorskie government, the first Polish regional passenger contract to be signed with a private operator
  • CAPTION: The first Moscow - Paris sleeper service since 1995 arrived at Paris Nord on the morning of December 13. The single through car reaches the French capital using RZD's Moscow - Berlin train and DB's City Night Line service via Brussels
  • CAPTION: SNCF has begun taking delivery of 24 AGC electro-diesel multiple-units (RG 11.07 p693), which will operate services from Paris to Provins and between Meaux and La Ferté-Milon during 2008. They will use 25 kV in the Paris area, and diesel beyond
  • CAPTION: Executives from Rail.One, the Land of Bayern and Ghana held a ceremony in the Bayern Representation in Berlin on December 5 to mark an agreement between Rail.One and the Kampac Oil Group of Dubai to upgrade the Western and Central Railway in Ghana. Rail.One is to supply 2 million concrete sleepers for the project to build a line between the port of Takoradi and the border with Burkina Faso