Australia: QR is to upgrade its Rockhampton - Townsville line for 20 tonne axleloads and 100 km/h freight operation between mid-1999 and 2002 at a cost of A$240m. Concrete sleepers will be supplied by Austrak and Rocla.

Clyde and Bluebird rail are refurbishing five ex-AN diesel locos for Great Northern Railway, to haul open access services from Adelaide to Melbourne.

Canada: Emons Transportation Group’s St Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad has taken over CN’s 157 km line from Sainte-Rosalie to the US border (RG 9.98 p570); the C$7m price includes 10 locos. CN is to sell its 190 km Matane - Rivière-du-Loup line to Québec Railway Corp.

Agence Métropolitaine de Transport is studying a branch to Montréal’s Dorval Airport, from the St Lawrence & Hudson at Dorval or CN’s Deux-Montagnes line.

China: China Railway Container Transport Centre and Orient Overseas Container Line have launched regular rail services for refrigerated containers carrying export consignments from 15 inland points. The first service carried apples from Xian to the port of Qingdao.

Europe: To improve the performance of Brussels - Amsterdam IC services, driver changes at Roosendaal are to be abolished this summer. Turnaround times at Brussels Midi will also be eased.

The governments of Spain and Portugal have agreed to improve cross-border links including a rail corridor from A Coruña to the Algarve by 2005. Up to Pts40bn is to be spent on upgrading the Porto - Valença do Minho section.

On January 15 Intercontainer-Interfrigo launched a twice-weekly intermodal service from Basel to København.

France: SNCF’s provisional budget for 1999 foresees a profit of Fr77m on a turnover of Fr78·6bn. For 1998, a loss of Fr516m on a turnover of Fr77bn was forecast before the impact of recent industrial action became known.

Italy: Work was due to begin on December 21 to quadruple the Padova - Venezia Mestre route; the government has allocated 300bn lire towards the Venezia - Trieste - Ljubljana project.

FS was due to reopen the 33 km Firenze - Borgo San Lorenzo line to passengers on January 14, serving Campomigliaio, Fontebouna and Mimmole.

The government has approved construction of a new line between Genova and Pianura Padana, expected to start in 2000. Allocation of 700bn lire for doubling the Finale Ligure - San Lorenzo section of the Genova - Ventimiglia line will allow work to begin in September.

Construction has begun of a station on SATTI’s Torino - Germagnano route to serve Caselle Airport, expected to open in January 2000 at a cost of 7bn lire.

Japan: JR Central is developing a shinkansen inspection train based on a Series 700 trainset which will be able to measure track and catenary parameters at 270 km/h.

North Korea: NKR has completed two new lines totalling 60 km along the west coast, linking Singangryong with Pupho and Haeju with Ongjin.

Norway: With its January 10 timetable change, NSB introduced through trains from Skien to Lillehammer via Oslo and Gardermoen Airport. Three daily international trains between Trondheim and Östersund via Storlien give convenient connections to Stockholm and G