Australia: Australian Rail Track Corp has begun an A$16m programme to increase capacity in the Adelaide - Kalgoorlie corridor, including the lengthening of 21 passing loops to 1850m.

Azerbaijan: Forthcoming privatisation legislation is thought likely to make provision for the sale of Azerbaijan Railway by the middle of 2000. Over 50% of shares in the company would be offered for purchase using privatisation vouchers, with 30% sold for cash.

Canada: Following an accident at Thamesville on April 23, CN is to install CTC on its Komoka - Windsor and Hamilton - St Catharines routes at a cost of C$25m. Upon completion next year, all CN-owned track in VIA Rail Canada’s Québec - Windsor corridor will be controlled by signals.

Estonia: Parliament has passed legislation for the privatisation of Estonian Railways, which is to be restructured and sold off by the state privatisation agency rather than the Ministry of Transport & Communications.

Europe: With the Nis - Presevo route impassable since April 13, Intercontainer-Interfrigo has rerouted shipments to Macedonia, Greece and Turkey via Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.

France: RFF made a loss of Fr13·7bn in 1998, down from Fr14·1bn the year before and lower than forecast. A deficit of just over Fr12bn is expected for 1999.

Great Britain: Central Trains’ Eastcroft DMU depot in Nottingham was opened by Sir Alastair Morton, Chairman of the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority, on May 7. Built by Norwest Holst for Railtrack at a cost of £2m, it will service Class 170s to be introduced this summer.

Union Railways North has announced a £277m package of preliminary work for Section 2 of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link from Southfleet Junction to London St Pancras. Land acquisition has begun and construction is expected to start in mid-2001 for opening in 2007.

International: The Latin-American Railway Association (ALAF) has signed a technical co-operation agreement with SNCF International.

Kenya Railways is to operate twice-weekly block trains on the Mombasa - Kampala route, aiming to bring the transit time down to 96h. The transit bond requirement for containerised traffic may be waived to reduce delays.

Israel: ACA Co is to build a station at Chutzot Hamifratz on the Haifa - Tel Aviv route, with construction expected to take 16 months. After Lev Hamifratz 2 km to the south, it is the second station to be developed by the private sector.

New Zealand: Tranz Rail has conducted trials with 2·9m high containers through the Cliffs and Mihiwaka tunnels on the Christchurch - Dunedin route. Shallower ballast and thinner sleepers could lower the rails by up to 80mm.

Saudi Arabia: A study funded by the World Bank is examining the feasibility of building a Jeddah - Makkah - Riyadh route. A line from Riyadh to Gurayyat via Hail and Qasim is also proposed.

Spain: Feve is to spend Pts5bn on infrastructure projects this year, including track renewal between Cartagena and La Unión and the electrification of the Trubia - Pravia route. Rolling stock investment of Pts2·2bn will include the conversion of four DMUs into EMUs and refurbishment of other diesel trains.

The Ministry of Development has begun public consultation for a branch from Ortuella to a new freight terminal serving the Port of Bilbao. Largely in tunnel, the 5 km route would cost between Pts7·5bn and Pts9·9bn.

USA: Norfolk Southern has signed a memorandum of understanding for trackage rights to operate the 220 km North Carolina Railroad for 15 years.

UP expects to complete double-tracking of its 250 km Marysville Subdivision in Nebraska and Kansas next summer, raising capacity for Powder River coal trains; the four-year project has cost $157m.

Sound Transit, Washington Department of Transportation, BNSF and UP have reached agreement for upgrading the 64 km Seattle - Tacoma route at a cost of $319m to accommodate Sounder commuter services starting in December.

As part of its Montclair Connection project, NJ Transit has awarded J H Reid a $16·7m contract to electrify the Walnut Street - Great Notch section of the Boonton line and build a rolling stock depot at Little Falls. Bids are to be called for construction of a 365m link between the Boonton line at Walnut Street and the Montclair Branch at Bay Street.

Zimbabwe: Beitbridge Bulawayo Railway expects to open its 170 km Beitbridge - Colleen Bawn route on July 15, built under a 30-year BOT agreement.