Australia: A decision to use TPWS and TPWS+ to halt trains that approach curves or junctions too fast is being blamed for an increase in the cost of Victoria’s Regional Fast Rail project A$750m (RG 12.04 p840).

Canada: On February 4 the GO Transit board approved a budget of C$173m for infrastructure and rolling stock renewals and a similar amount for investment in growth. Works to permit the extension of the Brampton service to Barrie will start this year, to be completed by mid-2007.

Czech Republic: The government has told SZCD to cut by 40% its track access charges for intermodal trains, and is planning to introduce road tolls following a huge increase in cross-border lorry movements since the country joined the EU last May.

Denmark: Danske Jernbaner, a subsidiary of Germany’s Niebüll Eisenbahn, began operating open-access freight trains on February 3, taking over the operation of Norsk Hydro aluminium trains between Grenå and Tønder formerly run by Arriva-owned Vestbanen.

Europe: On February 2 Intercontainer Austria launched a twice-daily rolling motorway service between Salzburg and Trieste, aimed at capturing 1 million tonnes of traffic a year from road.

On February 1 rail4chem signed a joint venture accord with Transpetrol GmbH under which the VTG subsidiary will take over marketing of the Antwerpen - Duisburg - Gro§korbetha logistics service, leaving rail4chem to concentrate on operations.

France: The public enquiry into TGV Sud-Europe Atlantique between Poitiers and Limoges is to be held in September 2006; RFF hopes to have the 130 km line in service by 2014 at a cost of up to €1·5bn.

Visiting Toulouse on February 10, Transport Secretary François Goulard confirmed that a TGV line offering a 3h journey time from the city to Paris via Bordeaux would be completed by 2015.

Public consultation for the planned TGV extension from Marseille to Nice began on February 21.

Around 20 firms have submitted expressions of interest to SNCF for the sale of its parcels and sundries business Sernam; a preferred bidder is due to be named this month.

Germany: The Land of Brandenburg has allocated €7·4m for electrification of the 23·4 km Angermünde - Schwedt line, which will be closed for upgrading for three months from September.

NordWestBahn GmbH has won a further 12-year contract from LNVG, the Land of Bremen and ZVM of Münsterland to operate the Wilhelmshaven - Esens, Wilhelmshaven - Osnabrück and Bremen - Osnabrück routes, fighting off bids from DEG, Connex and Stadtwerke Osnabrück AG.

India: Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Dr Y S Rajasekhara laid a foundation stone on January 27 for a 750m bridge to carry South Central Railway’s 123 km Yerraguntla - Nandyal line over the Pennar River. The Rs1·6bn line is to be completed by 2007.

With IR expecting to complete the conversion of the Thanjavur - Tiruvarur line to broad gauge this month, Minister of State for Railways R Velu announced in January that work on the Rs560m broad-gauge line from Kumbakonam to Myladuthurai would start on April 1. Velu inaugurated broad-gauge operation on the 120 km Manoharabad - Nizamabad line on February 1.

Israel: IR Chairman Moshe Leon announced at the end of January that the refurbished line to Jerusalem Malkha will reopen in April. Journey time from Tel Aviv will be 72min, 33min faster than before, with intermediate stops at Lod, Ramla, Beit Shemesh and Biblical Zoo Halt.

Netherlands: ProRail is to reopen the cross-border route from Maastricht to Lanaken in Belgium for freight traffic next year; the EU and local authorities in both countries will contribute to the €14m cost.

New Zealand: The Land Transport Safety Authority and infrastructure financing agency Transfund have been merged to form Land Transport NZ.

Russia: RZD has allocated 900m roubles for upgrading of rail links to the port of Kaliningrad, including a 140m rouble reconstruction of Sortirovochnaya station by 2006 and installation of automatic signalling on the Shipilovka - Baltic Forest line.

Slovenia: Port operating company Luka Koper signed an agreement with Austria’s Graz - K

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