Australia: The Federal government has shortlisted three investment banks to advise on the planned privatisation of National Rail Corp, which is expected to raise around A$500m later this year.

Great Southern Railway introduced a Sydney - Alice Springs Ghan on April 11. Traction for the passenger service is provided by National Rail Corp.

Canada: CN has agreed to transfer the 134·4 km Dauphin - Swan River route in Manitoba to the village of Ethelbert. Both parties will work to bring the line back into regular use.

CP has agreed to sell the 115 km Pangman - Assiniboia route in Saskatchewan to Red Coat Road & Rail Ltd. Operations would be contracted out to Southern Rails Co-operative Ltd.

Europe: Renfe of Spain, SNCF of France and transport companies Decoex and TMF Operating have formed Cadefer to handle steel products at a 6000m2 dedicated transhipment facility at Portbou. Warehousing facilities are also provided.

Eurotunnel is looking for a US partner to help develop its European Telecoms business that provides services between London and Paris. The network was completed at the start of April and is used by 20 operators and companies.

France: SNCF has moved its Paris headquarters from 88 rue Saint-Lazare to modern premises at 34 rue du Commandant-Mouchotte, adjacent to Montparnasse station. Some staff have been redeployed outside the capital, with other Paris-based functions brought together in the new offices.

Germany: The Ribnitz-Damgarten West - Stralsund section of the Lübeck - Rostock - Stralsund reunification project will reopen on June 13 after a nine-month closure for track relaying. By the September 26 timetable change, DB will have installed solid-state interlockings, allowing restoration of full service and an increase in line speed to 160 km/h.

Great Britain: Central Trains officially opened its Soho EMU depot in Birmingham on April 16, built by Galliford Rail Projects at a cost of £3m. Railtrack provided funding of £2·5m, to be repaid by Central through its lease payments.

Chiltern Railways has been granted planning permission for a station outside Warwick near Junction 15 of the M40 motorway, to be served by its London - Birmingham trains.

Netherlands: A prototype automatic double-barrier crossing has been installed at Bilthoven as part of a programme to improve level crossing safety. A trackside signal warns train drivers if loops in the roadway have detected a vehicle trapped between the barriers.

Slovenia: SZ has awarded SCT Ljubljana, Primorje Ajdovscina and GIZ Gradis Ljubljana a contract to build a 24·5 km route from Puconci to Hodos and the Hungarian border. Due for completion by the end of 2000, the 11bn tolar project is being funded by a bank loan (RG 4.99 p190).

Spain: Renfe and the Ministry of Development have signed an agreement with the regional and city authorities to undertake studies for a new alignment running north-south under Valencia. The project includes a central station also served by FGV metro and light rail routes, a new approach from Silla and improvements to freight facilities.

Villaverde workshops has begun the conversion of two electric locomotives into a single permanently-coupled unit, regeared and equipped with new air-conditioned cabs. Renfe’s Freight business unit plans to create 20 units from 24 Class 289 and 16 Class 279 locos.

Switzerland: SBB’s management board has authorised SBB Cargo and Hamburg-based forwarder Transpetrol to set up a subsidiary to be known as ChemOil Logistics AG, whose objective is to increase SBB’s market share of oil and chemicals traffic.

SBB Cargo is building a customer service centre in Fribourg. Due to open early in 2000, it will provide a single point of contact for freight customers.

Turkey: Shortly before the General Election on April 18, the State Planning Office finally gave the go-ahead for the Ministry of Transport to invite tenders for construction of the planned Ankara - Istanbul high speed line; the bidding documents have been available since February.

USA: BNSF has begun trials of a capacity management system on intermodal services from southern California to Chicago, Kansas City, St Louis and Memphis. RSVP allows capacity to be established according to destination, service frequency and the type of rolling stock used.

CSX and Union Pacific have signed an interchange agreement to maximise direct flows of wagons between the two systems, creating through service at key gateways. These include Chicago, St Louis, Memphis, New Orleans and Salem, Illinois.

UP has opened a $1·5m double-track customs inspection yard 19 km north of Laredo, with X-ray equipment to examine trains arriving from Mexico.