Australia: Hamersley Iron has taken delivery of 132 iron ore wagons from Bradken; 106 more will arrive in February. Goninan is currently commissioning three General Electric Dash-9 locos at Dampier.
Brazil: CPTM has begun preliminary studies for a US$200m privately-financed rail link between São Paulo and Guarulhos Airport, 4 km north of the Roosevelt - Calmon Viana route.
Canada: Ontario Northland Transportation Commission has been instructed to sell off its Toronto - Cochrane Northlander passenger train as part of a restructuring announced on December 13. The move follows a study by KPMG, which recommended breaking up ONTC.
Estonia: The government has decided to end all long-distance passenger services on the national network. Tenders to run the services, currently operated by Edelaraudtee, failed as the 60m kroon subsidy available was considered too low by new owner GB Railways. From February 28 the routes will be served by buses.
France: SNCF has begun to relocate its Traction & Rolling Stock Division comprising 250 staff from Paris to Le Mans. By 2003, SNCF will have moved 1200 staff from the capital.
Germany: DB Cargo is to install GPS-based tracking equipment on 13000 wagons over the next two years at a cost of DM25m.
Hungary: Electric services began running on MAV’s Szekesfehervar - Szombathely line on December 11, following a three-year wiring programme by Italy’s Compagnia Generale Costruzioni SpA and Siemens.
MAV officially opened its modernised Zahony freight terminal on the Ukrainian border on December 6. The EU provided 10m euros towards the work.
International: A weekly through train from Toshkent to Tehran began running on January 11, with a through portion to Dushanbe in Tajikistan attached and detached at Chardzhou. The train runs via the border crossing at Sarakhs, where gauge changing takes 2h. Journey time from Dushanbe to Tehran is 55 h 15min, according to the Tajik Railways’ Passenger Director Karimjon Muminov.
The 11 countries involved in the EU-funded Traceca programme - which approved a unified tariff structure in January for traffic moving via the trans-Caucasus corridor and central Asia - have proposed the formation of an international railway association. Members would be Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.
Israel: IR carried 13 million passengers during 2000, a 46% increase on 1999. Passenger services between Rehovot, Yavne and Ashdod were reintroduced on December 20, and double-deck trains will arrive in June 2001. Construction has started on a privately-funded station serving the Lev Ha Mifratz shopping area near Haifa.
New Zealand: Tranz Rail has allocated NZ$16·5m towards moving its headquarters from Wellington to a business park at Takapuna, near Auckland, and redundancy costs for the current outsourcing programme. Headquarters staffing will be reduced from 400 to around 100.
Auckland City Council has approved new plans for a NZ$194m transport interchange, incorporating a sub-surface terminal station and the historic Chief Post Office building. It would link with the trams proposed for Queens Street, and cross-harbour ferries.
Spain: Bids have been invited for signalling work on the Las Palmas - Oropesa cut-off on the Valencia - Tarragona route, which is to have a top speed of 220 km/h. Tracklaying and electrification are currently in progress.
With a budget of Pts500m, the Ministry of Development has put out to tender design work for upgrading the Zaragoza - Teruel route for 160 km/h. The project includes track relaying and new alignments for some route sections to achieve a 1h 05min journey time.
Renfe’s Freight business unit has joined wagon leasing companies Saltra, Ivexa and Tranfesa to form the Cererail pool of 1056 grain wagons. The partners hope to reduce wagon cycle times which are currently averaging 24days.
Sri Lanka: Pakistan Railways has supplied 40 Lahore-built covered bogie freight wagons to SLR at a cost of US$3m, funded by part of US$5m of credit provided to Colombo by Pakistan.
USA: As part of its debt reduction strategy, RailAmerica sold its 26·5% stake in Quebec Railway Corp and its interest in Ontario L’Orignal Railway on December 26. Three days later, Pittsburgh Industrial Railroad was sold to Ohio Central for $7·7m. On January 4 RailAmerica announced the sale of the 83·7 km South Central Tennessee Railroad, and 115·8 route-km in Illinois, for a total of $6·4m.
Fire safety measures in the tunnels leading to New York’s Pennsylvania station have been criticised by federal transport inspectors. Bringing the tunnels up to modern standards has been repeatedly delayed due to the very high costs, now estimated at $898m.