Argentina: The 150 km between Río Primero and Sumampa on the Nuevo Central Argentino network is to be upgraded at a cost of 40m pesos. Upgrading of the 150 km between Sumampa and Forres is already in hand.

Asia: Advantage International and Black Sea Transit planned to launch a weekly freight service between the Georgian port of Poti and Almaty in Kazakhstan on March 1, with a transit time of eight days. The companies plan to extend the service to Urumqi and run five times a week by the end of the year.

RAI software has been installed on TCDD computers at the Razi-Kapikoy border crossing, allowing the electronic completion and exchange of forms between the Iranian and Turkish rail operators.

Belgium: In January the transport ministry licensed Rotterdam-based rail4chem Benelux to operate in Belgium, using Vossloh G2000 and EMD JT42CWR locos.

SNCB has completed electrification of the 8 km Welkenraedt - Montzen line to increase operational flexibility between Aachen and Liège.

SNCB's telecommunications business B-Telecom is to become part of Syntigo, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SNCB Holding which provides IT services. B-Telecom reported turnover of €12m in 2005.

Canada: On January 19 CN announced its C$26m purchase from RailAmerica of the Lakeland & Waterways, Mackenzie Northern and Central Western railways in Alberta, which have a total length of 1180 km.

This month CN and CP begin implementing an operating agreement reached in January to enhance fluidity and capacity on routes to Port of Vancouver. This eliminates the need for inter-railway handovers, with trains operating directly to their destinations.

On January 31 CN began hauling CSX traffic to and from Sarnia, Ontario, under a long-term agreement which gives CSX access to shorter routes to and from the USA.

China: The Ministry of Railways and three northwestern provinces are to begin work in the first half of this year on a 30·3bn yuan link between Taiyuan and Zhongwei. Construction of the 752 km electrified double track line will take 41/2 years.

Czech Republic: CD plans to introduce smart card tickets from June, hoping to replace 1 million paper tickets a year.

Europe: The Czech and Austrian transport ministers have agreed to electrify the 11 km Retz - Znojmo line by the end of 2007. The EU will part-fund the extension of Austrian 15 kV AC electrification into the Czech Republic, and ÖBB will extend its hourly Wien - Retz service over the border.

France: RFF has commissioned a €8m control centre at Pagny-sur-Moselle which will eventually control traction power supplies on 4000 km of overhead line equipment on conventional and high speed routes in eastern France. Replacing a facility in Nancy, it will take over areas controlled from Metz, Strasbourg and Paris Est between June 2006 and September 2007.

RFF is to replace bullhead rail on the Tarascon-sur-Ariège - Luzenac-Garanou section of the Toulouse - La Tour-de-Carol route, enabling a 60 km/h speed restriction to be lifted and frequencies to be increased. The €5m programme covering 10 km is due to be undertaken in September and October.

Hungary: On February 6 Railog introduced an intermodal service between Rotterdam and Gy?€?r, initially running four times a week.

India: By the February 15 deadline, 14 companies had applied to IR for rights to operate container services across the country. Approval is expected by March 31, and the Railways Ministry foresees investment in rolling stock and depots reaching Rs100bn over two years.

Japan International Co-operation Agency has been appointed to assess demand and study a planned increase in freight capacity on the Delhi to Mumbai and Kolkata routes.

Telinovation System and Exultsoft ticket vending machines accepting credit and debit card payment have been installed at Bangalore's main station, and platform tickets can now be bought by mobile phone. South Western Railway is offering train running information by SMS.

Ireland: Transport Minister Martin Cullen formally launched the Railway Safety Commission on February 8. Established on January 1, it has responsibility for Iarnród Éireann, Luas and future metro lines.

Kenya: Transport Minister Chuirau Ali Mwakwere and Rift Valley Railways Managing Director Roy Puffet signed the 25 year Kenya Railways concession on January 23.

Netherlands: Construction has begun of a 3 km electrified freight line from Vlissingen Oost harbour to the Vlissingen - Roosendaal main line, due for completion in late 2007. Zeeland Seaports and Westerscheldetunnel are meeting €12m of the €65m cost.

On January 20 ProRail signed contracts with Ballast Nedam Infra and GTI Infra for the construction of twin 0·8 km tunnels under the Drontermeer for the Lelystad - Zwolle line. Work on the Hanzelijn will start this year for opening in 2013.

Slovakia: ZSSK has sold its High Tatras funicular and cable car activities to Tatranské Lanové Drahy for KS185m. The subsidiary of British company Mountain Holiday Ski Resorts has leased the routes since 2003.

Spain: The Ministry of Development has awarded Ayesa a contract to define the alignment of a branch from the Córdoba - Málaga high speed line to M? laga airport, where a station would be built for high speed trains as well as suburban services on Renfe's M? laga - Fuengirola route.

United Kingdom: The Department for Transport has given the go-ahead for London & Continental Railways to fit out a sub-surface box built in 2005 to contain a replacement Thameslink station serving London's St Pancras and King's Cross termini. Work to complete the station is expected to take 20 months at a cost of £62·5m.

USA: Services on CSX Transportation's Gulf Coast line resumed on January 18 after five months of repairs to damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Employees and contractors have repaired six major bridges, a yard in New Orleans and more than 65 km of track.

On February 7 the Department of Homeland Security began a 30-day programme to test metal detectors and X-ray machines at PATH's Exchange Place station in Jersey City. The tests aim to assess the impact on traffic flows at the station, which is used by 15000 passengers a day.