Australia: A replacement 200 m bridge across the Murrumbidgee at Wagga Wagga in New South Wales was opened on January 3. The A$16m project undertaken by Arenco under ARTC's A$2·4bn North South Rail Investment programme allowed an increase in running speed from 20 to 80 km/h.
Belgium: Infrabel has established a traffic control centre at its Brussels headquarters, replacing the former national control centre and regional centres in Gent, Antwerpen, Namur and Mons. Built at a cost of €7·5m, the facility has 156 staff.
As part of a €331m programme to widen the Gent - Brugge route from two to four tracks by 2018, Infrabel is to begin work in April on a new viaduct between Gent St Pieters station and the Ringvaart canal.
Czech Republic: On January 18 SZDC inaugurated the latest section of Corridor 2 to be upgraded from 120 to 160 km/h operation. The 17·4 km double track line from Prerov to Olomouc was modernised by OHL and Skanska at a cost of KC2·7bn.
Europe: Thalys trainsets are to be replaced by TGVs on Brussels - Marne-la-Vallée services from April 1. This will release Thalys units for refurbishment, including the installation of ETCS Level 2 in preparation for the opening of high speed infrastructure on the routes to Amsterdam and Köln.
France: The government has approved the construction of a station on TGV Méditerranée at Allan south of Montélimar, serving a catchment area with a population of 500 000. The €77m project is included in the draft 2007-13 contract-plan with the Rhône-Alpes region.
SNCF has signed a deal for travel agents to be able to use the Amadeus system to sell French rail tickets in Britain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Italy and the Netherlands will follow shortly.
Germany: Metronom is to take over services on 93 route-km of regional lines from Hamburg to Lüneburg and Tostedt in December, under a contract with the transport authorities in Hamburg and Niedersachsen running to December 2010.
Hungary: MÁV has selected the Pro Cargo consortium led by the CA-IB subsidiary of UniCredit to advise on the privatisation of MÁV Cargo by the end of this year.
Netherlands: Construction of the €901m Hanze Line between Lelystad and Zwolle was officially launched on January 30. Opening of the 50 km route is now envisaged for 2013 (RG 12.06 p798).
Spain: Renfe has introduced suburban services over the 8 km between Alacant Términal and Sant Vicent Centre, with one intermediate stop at the new Universitat d'Alacant station. A total of 16 trains operate in each direction during the week.
Switzerland: Railion Deutschland has acquired Brunner Railway Services, which it will use to develop wagonload traffic between Switzerland and Germany.
On February 9 AlpTransit Gotthard let a contract for construction of the Erstfeld section of the Gotthard base tunnel to the AGN consortium formed of Swiss company Murer-Strabag and its Austrian partner Strabag. Award of the contract had twice been disputed by rival bidder Marti, leading to independent consultants being appointed to reassess the bids. Work on the Erstfeld tunnel section is now expected to start in April.
UK: The Rail Safety & Standards Board has appointed ESR Technology to research ways to reduce vehicle mass per passenger.
USA: Fortress Investment Group's acquisition of RailAmerica was completed on February 14 (RG 12.06 p759).
Following disappointing results during testing between Chicago and St Louis, Illinois Department of Transportation has withdrawn from a project to develop positive train control technology using GPS provided by Lockheed Martin. IDOT will now only consider off-the-shelf equipment and will not participate in research.
On February 3 Nomad Digital successfully carried out a proof-of-concept demonstration of wireless CCTV for the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority in California. WiMAX was used to stream video between a lineside camera and a train, and from the train to the lineside.
The FRA has signed a memorandum of co-operation with Dow Chemical Co, Union Pacific and Union Tank Car Co to develop the Next Generation Rail Tank Car. The wagon will have higher structural integrity than existing designs, and types of energy-absorbing couplers and anti-climb design will be studied before new federal standards are issued in 2008.