Australia: Australian Wheat Board Ltd has selected Wisconsin Central subsidiary ATN Access to haul 300000 tonnes of grain from its new Dimboola terminal to Melbourne’s Appleton Dock. Four L Class locos will haul 44 grain hoppers being delivered from China. ATN is establishing a servicing depot at McIntyre Loop outside Melbourne.

The government of Western Australia has established a Rail Freight Sale Task Force to privatise Westrail Freight. An Information Memorandum was due to be issued in late June seeking expressions of interest, with the aim of completing the sale by the end of this year.

With tractor-hauled timber traffic now running at over 400 tonnes a day, Freight Australia is to restore loco-worked trains to the Sale - Hillside route in Victoria, reopened in 1999. Hillside - Bairnsdale will also be restored to operating condition at a cost of A$100000.

China: The Transmarine consultancy of Great Britain is providing design and technical support services for linkspans to be installed at Hai’an and near Haikou, which will used by train ferries serving the island of Hainan.

Czech Republic: Metrostav Praha has begun work on a 7·1 km cut-off on the Praha - Chomutov route between Brezno u Chomutova and Chomutov, scheduled for completion by 2004 at a cost of KC1·8bn. The single-track route includes a 1·75 km tunnel and a station at Drouzkovice.

Europe: Road haulier Transports Auto Brunier is to run two daily intermodal trains between Paris and Milano, in conjunction with the Paris port authority and MGL of Italy. Vivendi subsidiary CGEA has a 35% stake in TAB.

Following the reinstatement of a 1·4 km cross-border link, the Kraslice - Klingenthal route reopened on May 28, used by Sokolov - Plauen services operated with RegioSprinter railcars. Czech private operator Viamont invested KC18m and Germany’s Vogtlandbahn spent DM7·5m.

The governments of Bulgaria and Romania have signed an agreement to build a bridge across the Danube between Vidin and Calafat, expected to cost US$180m. Doubling the CFR route between Calafat and the Hungarian border throughout would cost US$700m.

France: For a 12-month trial period, Nord-Pas-de-Calais has provided funding for two TGV services each weekday to be extended from Lille Europe to Calais Fréthun and Boulogne as part of the regionally-supported TER network. SNCF has also introduced direct TGV services from Paris to Les Sables d’Olonne, hauled from Nantes by a fleet of three modified CC72000 diesel locos.

Great Britain: The Office of the Rail Regulator has begun consultation on revising its code of practice on service and access for disabled passengers on trains and at stations. Incorporating the legal requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the new code is due to be published later this year.

North Yorkshire County Council has commissioned Mouchel to conduct a preliminary feasibility study into reopening the 12 km Malton - Pickering route.

India: Extra capacity is to be provided on Central Railway’s Mumbai suburban network, with the laying of two extra tracks between Kalyan and Diva (11 km) at a cost of Rs470m, and on the Thane - Mumbra (6 km) section for Rs493m.

International: Canadian Pacific Railway, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific are funding development of an internet-based freight booking and tracking system by Arzoon, which has developed a high-speed communications platform capable of monitoring movements across modes and borders.

Italy: Nord Milano Railway has invited expressions of interest in joining a telecommunications joint venture that would install and operate 440 km of optical fibre along its routes.

Netherlands: NS Railinfrabeheer has opened a 3 km branch from the Vlissengen - Roosendaal route to the Scaldiahaven industrial zone.

Poland: GATX Rail Overseas Holding Corp has been selected as preferred bidder for DEC, a subsidiary of the state oil company Nafta Polska which owns and operates over 11500 tank wagons.

Uruguay: On May 20 the senate approved a law opening up the AFE network to private operators.

USA: Delays to the reconstruction of Boston’s North station caused by a $12bn road tunnel have forced Amtrak to postpone the restoration of inter-city service between Boston and Portland, Maine, until April 13 2001.