Argentina: Buenos Aires provincial operator Uepfp has begun work to re-open the Bahía Blanca - Carmen de Patagones route to passenger traffic, including repair of earthwork damage caused by burrowing animals. Completion would allow Buenos Aires - San Carlos de Bariloche services to run in conjunction with Sefepa of Río Negro.

China: Double tracking of the 138 km Linyi - Yanzhou section of the Heze - Rizhao line has been completed. Track laying started on the 101 km Liupanshui - Baiguo line in January.

CR’s 230 km/h Blue Arrow trainset entered service on the Guangzhou - Shenzhen line on January 8, operating at up to 200 km/h. Developed by Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Research Institute, it can carry 442 passengers.

Czech Republic: On January 8 intermodal company CSKD-Intrans began a six times/week Praha - Zizkov and Plzen - Krimice inland container shuttle, with connections to Hamburg, Bremerhaven and Rotterdam.

Europe: GIF of Spain and its new Portuguese counterpart RAVE have formed a European Economic Interest Group to plan high speed lines in the Madrid - Lisboa/Oporto and Oporto - Vigo corridors. Both governments have agreed to call tenders for Madrid - Lisboa technical studies.

France: SNCF is looking to recruit 7300 new staff this year, which should take its total number of employees to 174950 by December 31 2001. Implementing legislation on shorter working hours has increased staff by 4500.

Germany: German Railway plans to electrify the 23 km line from Pforzheim to Bad Wildbad.

Siemens is to lay broad gauge track at its Wildenrath test centre, to accommodate 62 three-car 1600mm gauge EMUs ordered by National Express Group for Melbourne’s Bayside Trains franchise.

Great Britain: Railtrack has selected Union Switch & Signal Inc for a US$100m contract to design, build and install the Network Management Centre for the West Coast Main Line at Saltley, near Birmingham.

Alstom has been awarded an interim passenger safety case for the ScotRail Class 334 Juniper EMUs.

India: Work on the broad gauge Tamluk - Digha link is expected to be completed on March 31, with services beginning in April. The track is laid with concrete sleepers and 52 kg/m 90 UTS rails.

International: Slovenian and Austrian Federal Railways have begun a door-to-door freight service to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Goods will be sent to Ljubljana Zalog, from where AS Express trains will run to Bosnia at least once a week. The railways plan a similar service to Beograd.

Ireland: Iarnród éirean has commissioned Gibb Ltd to advise on the improvement of freight yards at Ballina, Cork and Galway over the next five years. The feasibility of a 1·2 km line into the Louisiana-Pacific plant near Waterford is also being studied.

Japan: East Japan Railway plans to open its new research and development centre at Omiya near Tokyo in the autumn of this year.

JR Freight is planning to develop a ’super-express’ multiple-unit freight train to handle premium less-than-container load traffic between Tokyo and Osaka. Using the 1067mm gauge Tokaido line, the train will offer a 5h 30min timing over the 550 km route.

Netherlands: NS Reizigers has ordered a further 21 six-car double-deck IRM EMUs for delivery in 2004. The 600-seat units will be built for 1·5 kV DC, but are designed to be retrofitted for 25 kV.

New Zealand: Northland Regional Council is considering the use of a train ferry between Port Whangarei and Marsden Point port, which is due to open in April 2002. A ferry would be quicker to introduce and one-third the price of a new line from Oakleigh.

Norway: Bus operator Connex Norway has expressed interest in bidding to run NSB’s Porsgrunn - Notodden route.

Russia: The October Railway has cut its ER-200 high speed Moscow - St Petersburg service back from 10 trips to one train each way per week.

South Africa: Road haulier Unitrans has obtained a licence to manufacture RoadRailer bimodal vehicles, and aims to develop the technology in partnership with Spoornet.

Spain: Renfe has commissioned Inceo to undertake a feasibility study of merging its Freight and Intermodal business units. Freight made a loss of Pts3bn in 2000 and Intermodal a loss of Pts8bn.

Switzerland: On March 4 the canton of Zug is due to hold a referendum on a SFr67m light rail scheme using SBB’s Baar - Cham and Zug - Walchwil lines.

Uganda: URC is to expand its Port Bell yard which handles Lake Victoria train ferry traffic, following a rapid increase in business. URC is also accelerating repair work on the Kampala - Malaba line.

USA: Norfolk Southern announced a major restructuring on January 23. There will be 2000 redundancies, 10 yards and repair shops will be consolidated or closed, 1200 surplus wagons disposed of, and 6400 km of track closed or sold.

Vietnam: DSVN is to put into service next month a prototype double-deck coach developed by the Gia Lam works, for use on the Hanoi - Haiphong and Hanoi - Vinh routes.