China: Work began on August 26 to add a fourth track on the 147 km line between Guangzhou and Shenzhen at a cost of 4·74bn yuan. This will allow services to be increased from 100 to 137 per day, and it is expected that traffic will rise from 27million to 38·5 million passengers/year by 2015.

Czech Republic: On September 5 infrastructure manager SZDC formally launched a KC53bn project to modernise Corridor 4 from Praha to Ceské Budejovice and the Austrian border at Horní Dvoriste by 2016. An initial 18·2 km between Praha-Hostivar and Strancice will be upgraded for 140 km/h operation by July 2007.

France: With effect from September 5, Novatrans replaced CNC as operator of the intermodal terminal at Sète owned by RFF. A €4·57m investment programme has been undertaken with financial support from the EU, the government and local authorities.

Germany: On September 3 DB began a €7·4m project funded by the Land of Brandenburg to electrify the Angermünde to Schwedt branch. Electric services will begin with the December 11 timetable change.

India: On September 19 South Eastern Railway launched broad-gauge passenger services on a 41 km line between Bankura and Sonamukhi, built at a cost of Rs950m.

Railway Board Chairman J P Batra has announced a project to plant a further 6 million Jatropha curcas to produce oil for blending with diesel fuel. Northern Railway locos are currently using biodiesel, and it is to be supplied to further zones following an agreement for Indian Oil Corp to grow the plants on railway land, which could supply at least half the railways’ needs.

Iran: Modernisation of 30 GE diesel locos has been completed at Karaj, with electromechanical controls replaced by microprocessors, D-77 traction motors replaced by D-78 motors, and cab air-conditioning installed. A further 25 will be refurbished by a private contractor during 2006.

Spain: On September 4 Renfe introduced two new high speed shuttle passenger services in each direction between Córdoba and Sevilla, increasing the total number of daily return services to eight. Four new services running on Fridays and Sundays were introduced to the Madrid - Huesca route, operated by Talgo S102 trainsets.

Switzerland: BLS and Regionalverkehr Mittelland have restarted talks regarding a merger, which is now expected to be approved at the end of June 2006.

Uganda: A USh4bn rail connection has been built to the Biadco oil refinery in Jinja. The link to URC will cut the transit time from Mombasa from 10 days to three.

USA: On September 9 RailAmerica announced the $77·5m acquisition from Alcoa of the 21 km Point Comfort & Northern Railway, the 10 km Rockdale, Sandow & Southern Railroad and the 5 km Massena Terminal and Bauxite & Northern railways. The shortline operator also announced a 25-year lease of CSX’s 77 km Fremont - West Olive line in Michigan.

Zambia: RSZ has begun the second phase of a national track rehabilitation programme, covering 450 km between Mazabuka and Livingstone.

CAPTION: ProRail has been undertaking train detection tests on its Utrecht - Arnhem main line using one of the Bombardier A32 LRVs from the Alphen - Gouda tram-train project. The aim is to assess whether track circuits will be adequate to permit the extension of Rijngouwelijn services to Leiden or whether axle-counters will have to be installed

Photo:Hans Scherpenhuizen

CAPTION: On August 28 King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden formally inaugurated the second Årsta bridge in Stockholm, which will open with the December timetable change, completing the quadrupling of the southern approach to the capital as far as Sodra station Photo: Banverket