Brazil: Work was to be completed last month on a R$500000 project to increase capacity on Central Atlantic Railway’s steep 50 km Cachoeira - São Félix route in the state of Bahia. It will be followed by a RS$5m new alignment to by-pass the centre of Belo Horizonte.

Bulgaria: Electric services on the Dupnitsa - Simitli route, upgraded for 100 km/h operation, were inaugurated by Prime Minister Ivan Kostov on February 28. Under a 37m euros project funded by the EU, electrification through to the Greek border at Kulata is due to be completed by the end of August.

Canada: CN has announced plans to build an intermodal terminal at Milton, 32 km west of Toronto, by late 2002.

CPR has joined the North American Container System double-stack network, designed to facilitate the free interchange of 48ft and 53ft domestic containers.

China: Passenger services have begun on the Meizhou - Kanzhou line linking Guangdong and Fujian provinces. Freight services began last September.

China Rail Telecom began operating as the country’s seventh approved telecom provider on March 1, making use of railway landline, optic fibre, microwave and satellite infrastructure.

Guangshen Railway Shareholding Co Ltd is to raise 3·6bn yuan through a share issue to fund four-tracking of its Guangzhou - Shenzhen line. Vice-Minister of Railways Wang Zhaocheng says work will start this year, and take two years.

Europe: Work started on February 26 to relay the 9 km link between Gronau in Germany and Enschede in the Netherlands to allow a half-hourly passenger service to resume in September. The line was closed in 1981.

Renfe and SNCF are to form a subsidiary to manage Talgo services from Spain to France, Switzerland and Italy. The new joint venture will be an independent company jointly owned by the two railways, rather than a GEIE.

Fret SNCF has opened a new Brussels office, Fret Benelux, to manage traffic between France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, which accounts for around 15% of SNCF freight traffic.

France: SNCF has unveiled plans to improve the punctuality of its Paris suburban services, aiming to ensure by the end of 2001 that no more than 6·8% of peak trains run over 5min late or are cancelled. Under a Fr3·2bn programme part-funded by the Ile-de-France region and STIF, SNCF is acquire 60 electric locos and 12 double-deck trainsets.

Great Britain: The Strategic Rail Authority has agreed a two-year extension to the Island Line franchise held by Stagecoach until September 27 2003. Gibb has been commissioned to examine options for the provision of rail services on the Isle of Wight.

International: Estonia and Belarus have signed an agreement covering the co-ordination of rail services and the joint use of rolling stock.

Honouring a commitment made to the US Surface Transportation Board during the acquisition of Illinois Central, Canadian National has agreed to sell its 50% share of Detroit River Tunnel Co to Borealis Transportation Infrastructure Trust. Canadian Pacific Railway will retain its stake and replace CN as operator, with CN, CSX and Norfolk Southern retaining access rights.

Armenia and Georgia have agreed to modernise the 12 km Airum - Sadakhlo cross-border link, for which funding of US$3·5m will be sought from the World Bank. The bank is already lending Armenia $7·75m for railway upgrading.

The governments of Uzbekistan and Tadzhikistan have signed an agreement on freight rates for Uzbek traffic moving across Tadzhikistan’s Soghd region to reach isolated parts of the UYT network.

Russia: Construction has started on a 320 km railway to serve the Elginskoye coal deposits in southern Yakutia.

Spain: Catalunya regional government has signalled its willingness to provide Pts10bn for a loop to Barcelona’s El Prat Airport from the high speed line between Lleida and the French border. This would allow the airport to be served by high speed trains from 2005.