Africa: Services on the 1143 km line linking Abidjan and Ouagadougou were restored in September, having been suspended a year earlier because of fighting in Côte d'Ivoire.

Argentina: Sefecha has introduced passenger service over a new 1·6 km branch from Resistencia to Puerto Vilelas. Construction was funded by the government of Chaco province.

Australia: Western Australia's Rail Safety Regulator has approved driver-only operation of freight trains between Perth and Kalgoorlie, following successful trials. Pacific National is to establish a drivers' depot at Merredin.

Canada: On September 10 CN held a ceremony to mark the opening of its C$16m Winnipeg Intermodal Terminal. The Symington Yard facility has a capacity of 100 000 lifts/year, and has been handling traffic since the end of July.

CPR has reached a five-year agreement with distiller Diageo to retain a twice-weekly service carrying grain and whisky on the Selkirk - Gimli line, ensuring the route's future.

China: The 3345m long Yangbajain No 1 tunnel was completed on October 12, the last of seven tunnels for the Qinghai - Tibet railway.

Denmark: The DSB board has approved in principle the framework of a new DKr40bn, 10-year contract with the Ministry of Transport from January 1 2005. It includes a 26% increase in long-distance and regional train-km, and a 13% increase in suburban services.

Europe: Czech Railways and Vogtlandbahn are planning a joint venture to operate cross-border regional services on the Plzen - Domazlice - Furth im Wald line from December 2004.

European Rail Shuttle BV is to buy traction from SBB Cargo from January 1 2004 for the Swiss and Italian legs of its Rotterdam - Melzo/Padova services. The company took delivery of a further five JT42CWR locos on October 9. It has introduced a daily container service between Rotterdam and Duisburg, and opened offices in Hamburg and Budapest.

France: SNCF launched its first Téoz services formed of refurbished Corail stock between Paris and Clermont-Ferrand in September. Trains between Paris and Strasbourg will receive Téoz stock in January 2004, and a €140m programme to refurbish 430 coaches will be completed by mid-2006.

On October 6 RFF signed a five-year partnership agreement with waterways authority VNF, which will see the two organisations working to improve rail connections to inland ports. They will also develop a common strategy for urban redevelopment schemes and transfer property holdings where appropriate.

Germany: Land Transport Minister Dr Bernd Rohwer announced on September 25 that with effect from November 1 Connex subsidiary Nord-Ostsee-Bahn will take over the operation of passenger services previously run by FLEX between Hamburg and Flensburg (RG 9.03 p525). The two-year contract sees the Land paying an extra €8·1m.

On September 15 DB agreed a contract with the Land of Mittelsachsen to operate regional passenger services until the end of 2014.

International: UIC's Technical Commission has approved the use in international traffic of wagons with K-type composite brake blocks, which can help to reduce noise emissions.

Kazakhstan: Infrastructure upgrades to 500route-km and the introduction of Tulpar Talgo trains in mid-September have allowed KTZ to cut the Astana - Almaty journey time from 22h to 13h 44min.

Morocco: ONCF has awarded Systra and Team Maroc a contract to carry out a feasibility study for a high speed line linking Casablanca with Agadir. The Casablanca - Marrakech route would be upgraded for higher speeds, and options are to be reviewed for a direct route to Agadir through the Atlas mountains, or a longer Atlantic corridor via Esaouira.

Netherlands: The province of Gelderland has selected NS as preferred bidder to operate the 18 km Zutphen - Apeldoorn line for five years from December 12 2004.

New Zealand: Tranz Rail hauled a record 14·8million tonnes of freight in the year ended June 30, which was 3·3% more than in 2001-02. Operating profit was up 59% at NZ$40m, but the net loss after tax was NZ$2·6m (p682).

Spain: The Ministry of the Environment has been formally requested to approve the route chosen for a 58 km high speed line between Valencia and Castelló de la Plana. It is expected that civil works would cost €378·8m.

Environmental approval has been requested for a €499m package of works to accommodate high speed services in Valladolid, where the new line would serve an underground station at Campo Grande. Existing workshops and freight facilities would be relocated to a new 1668mm gauge bypass to the east of the city.

United Kingdom: Grand Central Railway Co plans to introduce trans-Pennine open access passenger services between Newcastle, York, Leeds, Manchester and Preston from May 2004. The four daily return journeys will use refurbished High Speed Train sets.

USA: Amtrak carried 24 million passengers in the year to September 30, up 2·7% on 2001-02. The largest increase was 11·7% on short-distance routes in the west, but boardings on similar trains in the east fell by 1·6%.