Austria: Voestalpine’s logistics and transport subsidiary LogServ is to increase the amount of business it handles by rail as an open access operator. It has six locomotives and around 400 wagons available which will increasingly be used for cross-border traffic.

A Salzburg court has acquitted 16 people charged in connection with the fire on the Kitzsteinhorn funicular near Kaprun which killed 155 people in November 2000. The judge said there was insufficient evidence to find the operators and suppliers responsible.

Belarus:The Russia - Orsa optic fibre communications link will be extended westwards to Minsk and Brest by the end of this year, improving the transfer of data regarding international freight traffic between Poland and Russia.

Bulgaria:No bids were received following a call for tenders to buy or lease 242 km of lines proposed for closure last year. The Ministry of Transport & Communications will now transfer the lines to local authorities or approve dismantling.

Europe:Czech Railways and Slovenian Railways joined train path marketing association RailNetEurope on January 1.

A thrice-weekly container service between Cargo Centre Graz and Duisburg Intermodal Terminal was launched on February 3. The LTE and Rail4chem crews are changed at the German border, but the Class 185 locos run through.

France:One of German Railway’s ICE3 trainsets began trials at up to 300 km/h last month between Lille and Calais. The tests are part of a series intended to lead to the German train being authorised to run in commercial service on French tracks.

SNCF is building a three-road maintenance facility at Trappes that will service 20 Z2N EMUs deployed on Paris suburban services. Due for completion at the end of 2004, the €12m depot will be equipped with two inspection pits and side access platforms.

Germany:EuRailCo, a subsidiary of Transdev and RATP Développement, has acquired 75% of the capital of Rheinbahn subsidiary Trans Regio, which runs three regional passenger services in Rheinland-Pfalz with an annual turnover of €13·4m.

Deutsche Regionaleisenbahn GmbH expected to take over the mothballed Nossen - Riesa line from DB Netz by the end of February, and hopes to reinstate freight and passenger services withdrawn in May 1998.

Netherlands:On January 30 The Train Company introduced Bergland Expres weekend overnight trains between Amsterdam and Austria via Belgium, using rolling stock made redundant when NS abandoned similar services in 2002. Motor-rail services to Italy and France are planned.

ProRail has conducted compatibility testing of Alstom and Bombardier Level 1 Ertms and ETCS equipment on a 12 km section of the Steenwijk - Heerenveen line. Differences between the designs are now being analysed, and Level 2 trials are planned for later this year.

New Zealand:The sale of the national rail infrastructure to the government by Toll Holdings Ltd was expected to be completed at the end of February. Responsibility for train operations and infrastructure maintenance will pass to the newly formed Toll Tranzlink on July 1.

Nigeria:The federal government is planning to establish a National Railway Commission to prepare NRC for possible privatisation.

Russia:RZD is to spend 3bn roubles modernising the Sakhalin rail network this year, and sees re-gauging the island’s lines from 1067mm to 1520mm gauge as a priority.

Funding has been approved for RZD to begin developing a 94 kV electricity distribution network. This would reduce the number of lineside substations and require fewer links to the energy suppliers.

South Africa: Studies have been commissioned for a second heavy-haul rail route to serve the Sishen iron ore deposits. It would run to the deep-water port being developed at Coega, near Port Elizabeth, and would enable expansion of the present ore flow which uses the line via Kimberley.

Spain:The Ministry of Development has selected a 113 km alignment for the high speed line between Granada and the Córdoba - M