Australia: The New South Wales government has dropped plans to replace rail services along the Newcastle waterfront with buses, and now plans to investigate options for introducing diesel tram-trains.

Brazil: In February CPTM exercised an option with an Alstom-led consortium for 48 Metropolis cars, under a contract dating from 1994. They will be used on São Paulo Line 4, due to open at the end of 2008.

Bulgaria: The Mayor of Sofia signed a €13·6m deal with Inekon on February 21 for modernisation of 18 trams, funded with part of a €35m EBRD credit for transport in the capital. The Czech firm will work with Pars Nova Sumperk and Tramcar Sofia on the project, due for completion in 2008.

Canada: SNC Lavalin has awarded Alcatel a €25m contract to supply communications-based train control for the 19 km Canada Line which is under construction between Richmond and Vancouver. The driverless light metro will open in November 2009.

Chile: President Ricardo Lagos formally opened the Grecia - Vicente Valdés section of Santiago Metro Line 4 (RG 1.06 p9) on March 2.

China: On February 23 Beijing Subway Line 10 Investment Co announced that Bank of China had granted a 8bn yuan 25-year loan to finance the 24 km first phase of Line 10 between Huoqiying and Dabeiyao and the Olympic village feeder line, to open in 2008.

Dominican Republic: Opret has received bids from 30 companies to build six stations on the elevated section of the Santo Domingo metro along Avenida Hermanas Mirabal (RG 12.05 p754).

France: Contactless smart card ticketing was introduced to the STAR metro and bus network in Rennes on March 1, which from September this year will be extended to local SNCF TER services. Installation of the KorriGo system has cost the local authority €6·7m, with central government providing an additional €1·6m.

India: The government’s railway budget allocates funding for a further extension of Chennai’s Mass Rapid Transit System. This will start at Velachery, terminus of an extension from Tirumanmiyur which is currently under construction for opening in 2007, and run to St Thomas Mount.

Bangalore Metro Rail Corp Managing Director K N Shrivastava announced last month that work will be underway on the Rs 63bn metro by September, with an initial 7 km section opening in three years. Ministers have approved the adoption of 1435mm gauge for the 36·5 km Phase 1, which will be partly funded by JBIC and built over five years.

Italy: A €1·6m contract to maintain Cityway trams in Torino has been awarded to a joint venture of Faiveley Transport and Alstom by city transport operator GTT.

Philippines: LRTA plans to call tenders this month for a five-year contract to maintain Manila Metrorail Line 2. Warranties on the original equipment are due to expire, and LRTA said the government lacks rail maintenance expertise.

Spain: Madrid Metro has unveiled the first of 52 Series 9000 trainsets that have been ordered at a cost of €450m. A total of 252 cars will be deployed on Line 7 (26 trainsets), Line 6 (six sets) as well as MetroNorte and MetroEste (20 sets).

The 2·2 km extension of light rail route T3 in Barcelona from Sant Martí de l’Erm to Consell Comarcal has opened to traffic, with intermediate stops at Rambla de Sant Just and Walden. Total cost of the project was €38·8m, including rolling stock, depot facilities and associated road improvements.

UAE: In early March Japanese Ambassador Hajime Tsujimoto attended a ceremony to mark the start of work by Maureni and Nakheel on the driverless monorail serving the Palm Jumeirah artificial island development inDubai. Work is expected to take three years, linking a gateway station on the landward ’trunk’ with Atlantis on the crescent via two intermediate stations.

Plans have been announced for a monorail encircling the Jebel Ali Airport City development, linking with the Dubai metro.

USA: Denver International Airport awarded Bombardier a US$32m contract on March 1 to operate and maintain its CX-100 automated peoplemover for a further three years, with provision for two one-year renewals.

The first sections of overhead line on the 13 km Cross County extension of the St Louis Metrolink network from Forest Park were energised on March 10. Opening is scheduled for October.

The 1·6 km Newark City Subway extension between Penn and Broad Street stations was energised on March 15. Adding five stops, the line is due to open this summer.