Argentina: 11 companies have expressed interest in operating freight and passenger services on the northern section of the Belgrano Railway, under a 30-year concession from the province of Salta (RG 7.99 p415). A decree to confirm transfer of the Belgrano to Unión Ferroviaria until 2029 was expected to follow an agreement signed by the federal government on August 5, promising 225m pesos for investment in track and rolling stock over the first five years.

Australia: The government of Victoria has sold Public Transport Corp’s Ballarat workshops to Alstom Australia Ltd for A$7m, with Great Northern Railway Services Pty Ltd purchasing the Bendigo facility. PTC’s mechanised track maintenance arm has been sold to a consortium of GNRS and John Holland Construction & Engineering for A$8·7m.

Canada: CN has agreed to transfer the Kamloops - Kelowna route in British Columbia and its branch to Lumby, totalling 167 km, to Kelowna Pacific Railway Ltd. Through its Port Colborne Harbour Railway subsidiary, Trillium Railway Co Ltd is to operate 66 km between St Catherines and Welland, Ontario.

With the introduction of AC traction drives, CPR is to increase its maximum train length from 120 to 150 wagons or 2750m. Around 50% of main line trains in Canada and the USA will be affected.

The Ontario provincial government has reached agreement with Algoma Central Railway for the continuation of regular Sault Ste Marie - Hearst passenger service for the next four years.

Europe: Passenger services between Petrozavodsk in Russia and Joensuu in Finland were due to be introduced last month. Up to 20000 passenger journeys a year were forecast for the link.

Germany: Keystone Industries of the USA has purchased a 49% stake in Bahntechnik Kaiserslautern GmbH, which runs a former DB wagon works. Keystone has an option to increase this share to 80% within 18 months.

German Railway and its property subsidiaries EIM and DBImm have agreed to redevelop a freight depot and marshalling yard in Frankfurt. The future ’Europa District’ will include both residential and commercial development.

Great Britain: The Shadow Strategic Rail Authority has appointed Lazard Brothers & Co Ltd and KPMG to provide financial advice and commercial support, with Linklaters & Paines named as principal legal adviser. The SSRA plans to start talks this autumn with train operators over the renegotiation of passenger franchises.

Midland Main Line has appointed AEA Technology to manage the planning and design of a £13·5m park-and-ride station at Ratcliffe-on-Soar between Derby and Nottingham, close to the M1 motorway and East Midlands Airport.

Netherlands: NS Railinfrabeheer is testing a new level crossing at Bilthoven, with full barriers to prevent motorists from driving round the gates. Radar and a mass-based obstacle detection system would halt trains clear of the crossing should a vehicle become trapped.

North Korea: Electrification work on the Hamhung - Majon route is reported to be under way.

Norway: Trains between Oslo and Gardermoen Airport were due to begin using the 13·8 km Romeriks Tunnel on August 22, cutting the non-stop journey time from 33min to 19min.

Portugal: On August 16 CP introduced a Pragal - Porto Alfa Pendular service, worked with a Fiat-Adtranz tilting trainset. It runs via the cross-Tagus link (RG 6.99 p346), officially opened by Prime Minister António Guterres on July 29.

Spain: With public consultation under way for the Segovia - Valladolid section, the Ministry of Development has published five alternative alignments for high speed infrastructure between Madrid and Segovia. Costing from Pts175bn to Pts250bn with between 9 km and 27 km in tunnel through the Guadarrama range, two routes run close to Villalba and three near to Soto del Real.

Awarding four more contracts for civil engineering totalling Pts37bn at the end of July, infrastructure authority GIF completed the tendering of work for the 480 km Madrid - Lleida section of the Madrid - Barcelona high speed line.

Switzerland: Swiss Federal Railways’ metre gauge Brünig line is to be run as a wholly-owned subsidiary company from April 1 2000.

USA: The government has laid before Congress its 1999 Federal Railroad Safety Enforcement Act, which would require railways to submit fatigue management plans for train crew, dispatchers and track maintenance staff. It would also protect employees who report dangerous situations, and promote level crossing improvements.

Union Pacific is due to begin trials of ECP electronic air brakes in September, installed on two unit trains owned by Southern Company Services that take coal from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin to a power station in Georgia.

Alstom Signalling Inc has demonstrated its transmission-based Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System to representatives of the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak, other operators and unions at the Transportation Test Center in Pueblo, Colorado. Overlaying nine-aspect cab signalling on the Northeast Corridor, ACSES will be fitted to 430 Amtrak vehicles and 170 locos of Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.