Australia: Rail America subsidiary Freight Victoria is to refurbish 70 km of the Gippsland line and reinstate freight trains between Sale and Hillsdale. FV Chief Executive Maris van Onselen hopes to negotiate state funding for refurbishing another 8 km to Bairnsdale.

Azerbaijan: In association with DSC and The Port of Rotterdam, Gibb Ltd has been awarded a contract to establish a new Ministry of Transport and implement new organisational structures for the transport sector including rail, metro and tram operations.

Canada: Montréal’s Metropolitan Transport Agency has reached agreement with local authorities for upgrading the 64 km Montréal - Dorion - Rigaud commuter line.

Canadian Pacific has sold its shareholding in the 476 km Quebec Central Railway, which links Sherbrooke, Lévis and Lac-Frontière, to Express Marco.

Colombia: Luis Diego Monsalve, President of infrastructure company Ferrovías, said on January 12 that the management of the national rail network is to be handed over to Spanish National Railways and Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya. The Spanish have also been asked to undertake studies into the development of a regional commuter network linking 20 towns around the capital Santafe de Bogota.

Czech Republic: JLV, a private-sector operator of dining and sleeping cars, has become an associate member of UIC.

The first section of CD’s Breclav - Prerov - Petrovice u Karviné upgrading was completed in December. The 20·5 km section between Hodonin and Moravsky Pisek is now equipped for 160 km/h.

Europe: DB has introduced a weekly ICE service for the winter sports season, extending a Stuttgart - Zürich ICT service to Chur in Switzerland.

France: On February 1 logistics company Géodis was due to take a 60% stake in SNCF’s loss-making parcels subsidiary Sernam (RG 1.00 p12). SNCF has been holding discussions with the French post office over bringing together their parcels and logistics activities.

Great Britain: A partnership between local authorities, the Welsh Development Agency, Central Trains and Railtrack is to seek funding for a £5m upgrading of lines west and north of Shrewsbury, with the aim of introducing hourly trains to both Aberystwyth and Chester.

The Institution of Railway Operators has been formed with the aim of raising the professional standing of operating personnel. Membership enquiries to PO Box 5539, Derby DE1 9FE.

Israel: IR has been granted a licence to run commercial communications services in competition with monopoly operator Bezek-Israel Telecom using its expanding optic fibre network which has some 75% unutilised capacity.

Morocco: The final stage of double-tracking between Casablanca and Fès, the 56 km Meknes- Fès section, has received a European Investment Bank grant of 32m euros. Funding is also expected from Japanese sources.

Netherlands: Short Lines is to intro-duce two CargoSprinter DMUs on its Rotterdam-Eindhoven service in late 2000.

NS is extending its computerised lost property registration system to 27 major stations after successful trials at Amsterdam CS.

Spain: Renfe is to build three new stations on its Irun - Brincola suburban line and will refurbish existing stops at Norte, Ategorrieta and Gros.

Alfil Logistics is due to begin operations next month, distributing food, drink and other consumer products from centres in Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla. Owned by brewer Damm (60%) and Renfe (40%), the joint venture hopes to achieve a turnover of Pts1·5bn in its first year of operations.

Sweden: Intercontainer (Scandinavia) has opened a traffic office at its G