Africa: Railway authorities in Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland have agreed the exchange and training of train crews and an operational partnership that calls for international standards for the repair of locos and rolling stock. Mozambican drivers have started work on Swazi and South African locos, and operating manuals are being translated for use between countries.

Belgium: Rather than develop its own risk-management tool, SNCB Holding has agreed to license on a trial basis the Safety Risk Model developed by Britain's Rail Safety & Standards Board to assist in the prioritisation of safety investment.

China: The first container train left Lhasa on July 1 2007, the first anniversary of the inauguration of the line from Golmud to the Tibetan capital (RG 8.06 p429).

Europe: Czech Railways is planning to introduce an intermodal service between Mladá Boleslav and Kaluga in Russia, carrying components for a Skoda car plant which will start production later this year.

Pendolino trains ordered from Alstom by Russian-Finnish joint venture Karelian Trains for St Petersburg — Helsinki services will be branded 'Allegro', a spokesman for October Railway said in July.

A weekly train ferry between Kavkaz in Russia and Poti in Georgia began on August 10, crossing the Black Sea in 31 h.

France: TER local services in the Rhône-Alpes region are to adopt a regular-interval service pattern from the December 9 timetable change, with the number of services growing by 15% over three years.

Mexico: On August 9 the government announced that Ferrocarril del Istmo de Tehuantepec has been granted temporary rights to operate the Chiapas — Mayab railway. Genesee & Wyoming Inc had said on June 25 that it was handing back its 30-year concession to operate the line, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Stan in 2005 (RG 8.07 p474).

Montenegro: The first Macosa Class 644 diesel locomotive bought by national operator ŽCG from Slovenian Railways arrived in Montenegro during mid-August.

Pakistan: PR has introduced online reservations for trains from Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi. Reservation slips can be printed at home and taken to the station e-ticketing counter for inspection up to 1 h before departure.

Poland: PKP Cargo has appointed Berlin-based Drozak Consulting to modernise its purchasing processes.

Russia: Visiting the Siemens plant at Krefeld in Germany on July 20, RZD President Vladimir Yakunin signed the formal go-ahead for construction of the eight Velaro RUS high-speed trains ordered in May 2006 (RG 11.06 p717). The 10-car broad-gauge electric trainsets will enter service at 250 km/h on the Moscow — St Petersburg route in 2009.

Spain: Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has announced that high speed infrastructure between Camp de Tarragona and Barcelona Sants will open to traffic on December 21.

Taiwan: Last month TRA unveiled the first of 160 Class 700 EMUs ordered from Nippon Sharyo and Taiwan Rolling Stock Co. TRA expects the 100 km/h air-conditioned units to become its standard commuter fleet, replacing existing stock.

UK: E.ON has awarded Jarvis subsidiary Fastline Freight a contract beginning next April and worth £40m over five years to haul coal to Ratcliffe-on-Soar and Ironbridge power stations. Freightliner Heavy Haul is moving coal to the power stations from Hatfield colliery, recently re-opened by Powerfuel.

USA: An $80m project began in July to add a third track between Summit and Devore on the BNSF line over Cajon Pass in southern California. Traffic on the route has doubled to 90 trains a day since 1990, creating a bottleneck on the main line between the west coast ports and the Midwest.

On July 31 Volusia County Commission voted to participate with three other Florida counties and the city of Orlando in a $615m project to build a 100 km commuter rail link from DeLand to Orlando and Poinciana which could open in stages from 2010.

Patriot Rail Corp's 42 km Rarus Railway in Montana has changed its name to the Butte, Anaconda & Pacific Railway Co. The 42 km shortline carries copper, slag and beer, as well as a summer tourist service.

The last rail for the FrontRunner commuter rail project was welded on August 6, and testing began on August 15. Utah Transit Authority said the $581m, 71 km line linking Salt Lake City with Pleasant View is 75% complete and on schedule for opening in spring.

New Hampshire Rail Authority was established at the end of July, with responsiblity for overseeing the development of commuter rail in the state.

West Coast Rail Contractors completed tracklaying on the 35 km Sprinter line between Oceanside and Escondido on August 2. The 12 Siemens Desiro DMUs are on test, and opening is on course for December 31.

  • CAPTION: German operator Osthannoversche Eisenbahn has taken delivery of the first of three Siemens Eurorunner diesel-electric locos ordered at a cost of €7m. The Arriva subsidiary has a contract to haul Rail Polska ethanol trains from the Polish border to Rotterdam
  • CAPTION: Israel Railways opened a new station at Lehavim on June 23. Situated north of Be'er Sheva on the line to Qiryat-Gat and Tel Aviv, it serves 5?000 people in the suburb of Lehavim and 40?000 residents in the nearby Bedouin city of Rahat
  • CAPTION: Eurostar began driver training and route familiarisation on Section 2 of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link to St Pancras on July 20, three days after the handover of the 39 km line from contractors. Bookings opened on July 24 for services starting on November 14, and according to CEO Richard Brown Christmas period bookings are double those on the same date in 2006
  • CAPTION: Laing O'Rourke's Pony Express resleepering machine can replace more than 2?000 timber sleepers in 8 h shift, preparing the ballast and re-threading the rails. The Transport Express joint venture with Balfour Beatty has achieved a record of replacing more than 2?700 sleepers in one shift during the £87m upgrade of ARTC's Sydney – Brisbane line
  • CAPTION: A two-car Regina test trainset has set a new Swedish speed record of 282 km/h as part of the Gröna Tåget research programme aimed at developing a replacement for the X2000 tilting trains. On August 8 the train was demonstrated to the media on a special run between Stockholm and Västerås that reached 251 km/h