Croatia: Transport Minister Roland Zuvanic has introduced a bill into parliament paving the way for restructuring HZ and permitting open access in line with European Union directives, with effect from January 1 2005.

Czech Republic: Lostr has completed a prototype Kils 120 km/h high-capacity two-axle covered wagon with 22·5 tonne axleload for bulk palletised cargo. Rebuilt to RIV standards from a Gbgkks wagon, it is owned by AAE Cargo AG and leased to CD.

Europe: On June 26 the European Commission was expected to announce that the Unife-sponsored €34m Modtrain project to develop modular train architecture was eligible for funding under the Sixth Framework Programme. This will pave the way for a contract to be signed later this year aimed at developing standard interfaces between components for high speed passenger trains. Project modules include Modcontrol, Modbogie, Modlink and Modpower.

Eurotunnel put a fifteenth lorry shuttle trainset into service in June, when the last of seven 7MW shuttle locos was also expected to be delivered. A sixteenth trainset will be delivered in September, completing an expansion programme announced in 1999.

Germany: Schleswig-Holstein announced on June 12 that it had awarded a 10-year contract starting in 2005 for operation of regional services between Hamburg and Westerland to Nord-Ostsee-Bahn, a Connex subsidiary. The company plans to use Talgo trainsets with passive tilting hauled by Vossloh-built Type R3000 diesel locomotives.

Italy: On June 16 Trenitalia unveiled the first of 600 inter-city carriages to be refurbished by 2004; they were due to enter service between Napoli and Udine on June 22. A further 900 vehicles will be modernised by 2006.

ÖBB Rail Cargo of Austria and Lucefin of Italy have opened a multi-function 'logistics platform' at San Stino on the main line from Trieste to Venezia. With direct links to the Italian motorway network, the intermodal terminal will be operated by a joint venture called Logistikbetriebsgesellschaft Magazinni Veneto Orientale.

South Africa: North-West Province has leased the closed 80 km Pretoria - Magaliesburg line from Transnet and signed an agreement for the Damrail consortium to revive the route, which has suffered from theft of track components.

Spain: On May 30 the cabinet approved a decree incorporating into Spanish law EU Directive 2001/16, covering interoperability of conventional networks. Certain Technical Specifications for Interoperability will not apply to the existing 1668mm gauge network.

The Ministry of Development has approved the findings of routing studies for the 227·7 km Olmedo - Lubi? n section of the Madrid - Ourense high speed line. The Ministry of the Environment is now considering the impact of a high speed line between Ourense and Vigo.

On May 19 FEVE restored through passenger services between León and Bilbao, following the completion of track renewal work between Cordovilla and Arija (RG 6.02 p285).

Upgrading of the 10 km Pravia - San Esteban route has been completed at a cost of €3·1m. Following electrification between Trubia and San Esteban, FEVE now operates the Oviedo - San Esteban route as Line F7 of the Metrotrén Asturias network.

Work has begun to relay Renfe's Mérida - Guareña and Zafra - Amendralejo routes in Extremadura with 54 kg/m rail on gauge-convertible concrete sleepers, costing €36·5m for 60·2 km.

Sri Lanka: Following the presentation of a report by Rites, the treasury has appointed a special committee to study proposals to restructure the railway sector, including the creation of public-private partnerships.

Uganda: URC Managing Director Eng Dan Murungi told a stakeholder conference that agreement has been reached to launch a cross-border freight service with Kenya. An EU grant of €10m in being used to repair bridges between Kampala and Malaba.

United Kingdom: Network Rail is to merge its property and major stations activities to create Railway Estates, comprising operational and commercial business areas.

USA: The government has invited comments on draft regulations requiring the phasing-in of low-sulphur fuel between 2008 and 2014.

BNSF has sold to RailAmerica 463 km of line linking Amory, Mississippi, to Mobile, Alabama, for $15m. RailAmerica's Alabama & Gulf Coast Railway subsidiary took over on June 1.

Uzbekistan: By early June the first 25 km had been completed of a 220 km line which will link Guzar, Baysun and Kumkurgan from 2007. So far 6bn sum of the expected total cost of 112bn sum has been invested in the project.