Bangladesh:The Ministry of Communications has called tenders for consultants to undertake feasibility studies into double-tracking and electrification of the Dhaka - Chittagong main line. The study will also look at building a cut-off from Laksam to Dhaka, shorter than the route via Akhaura.

Belarus:The creation of a joint venture to operate international container trains through Belarus was discussed by DB Chairman Hartmut Mehdorn and Belarus Railway Director Vladimir Jerelo at a meeting in Minsk during February.

Cambodia:KTMB of Malaysia is to supply used and surplus materials from the Rawang - Ipoh double tracking project to help complete the 48 km cross-border link between Sisophon and Poipet in Thailand.

Canada:On March 9 Transport Minister J-C Lapierre announced that the government is to open negotiations for the transfer of the federally-owned fleet of 12400 grain wagons to the Farmer Rail Car Coalition.

China:Inner Mongolia’s Railway Bureau has announced that work will start in June on a 177 km electrified line from Jining to Zhangjiakou in Hebei province, shortening the Hohhot - Beijing route by 125 km. Work will also begin on double-tracking the line between Baotou and Shenmu in Shaanxi province for coal traffic.

Czech Republic:CD has begun 100000 km of trial revenue operation on services from Brno of a prototype Class 835 two-car stainless steel DMU built and owned by Metrovagonmash. Based on the Class 6341 supplied to MÁV, the 120 km/h air-conditioned unit has MTU 315 kW 6R183 TD13H engines with Voith transmission and Intelo electronic controls.

Europe:On February 21 CMA CGM Group intermodal subsidiary Rail Link launched North Med Shuttle, a twice-weekly freight service between Marseille and Ludwigshafen.

India:Indian Railways is to separate Darjeeling Himalayan Railway from North East Frontier Railway, operating the 610mm gauge line as an independent entity based at Kurseong. Annual losses on the Unesco world heritage listed railway total Rs100m.

Israel:Two new departments have been created within IR in an organisational change. One will cover Five-Year Plan Management, while the Business & Real Estate department will be a profit centre alongside Passenger and Freight.

The National Infrastructure Committee has provisionally approved the planned route of the Jezreel Valley railway between Haifa and Beit-She’an, with eight intermediate stations.

Japan:On February 27 the Governor of Aomori prefecture Shingo Mimura ceremonially blasted the last section of rock to hole through the 26455m Hakkoda tunnel on the Tohoku Shinkansen extension from Hachinohe to Aomori, which is due to open in 2010.

New Zealand:Land Transport New Zealand is to contribute NZ$760000 towards a NZ$1m electrification study being undertaken by Auckland Regional Transport Authority. Procurement of rolling stock will begin this year to meet anticipated passenger growth on the currently diesel-worked suburban network.

Pakistan:PR has put forward two proposals to revive services on the metre-gauge line from Khokhropar to Munabao in India. The track could be rehabilitated at a cost of Rs600m, or a parallel broad-gauge line built to link with the planned regauging of PR’s Mirpur Khas - Khokhropar route.

Portugal:Arriva has formed a 50:50 joint venture with Barraqueiro to run buses and the recently-revised concession for the Fertagus rail service in Lisboa. The joint venture will also operate the Metro Transportes do Sul tramway, currently under construction, from opening in 2006 until 2032.

Serbia: On March 1 the government brought into force legislation for the restructuring of Serbian Railways, cutting 3750 posts from the 26000 payroll. In 2007 SZ will become a holding company with four separate subsidiaries managing infrastructure, passenger operations, freight services and rolling stock maintenance.

South Africa:Airborne Laser Solutions has completed a comprehensive survey of infrastructure along Spoornet lines using an aircraft-mounted laser. Up to 200 km can be covered in a day, with a vertical accuracy of 100mm and resolution of 50mm.

Spain:Passenger services are to be suspended between Balaguer and La Pobla de Segur in June for a period of up to six months to enable €18m of emergency repairs to be undertaken. Having assumed ownership of the route on January 1, the Catalunya regional government estimates that €70m will have to be spent over the next five years to make good the maintenance backlog.

USA:At a cost of $180m, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board has extended Amtrak’s contract to operate Caltrain commuter services to June 2009, with two performance-related one year extensions.

BART has won a five-year extension of its contract to manage the Capitol Corridor service between Sacramento, Oakland and San Jose. Amtrak operates and maintains the trains and feeder bus service.