The latest members of UIC are Malaysian transport authority SPAD, Beijing Jiatong University, Russian Railways’ high speed institute, Hungarian freight operator FoxRail, Poland’s Koleje Wielkopolskie, Italian logistics association UIR and Afghanistan Railway Authority.

A groundbreaking ceremony in late December marked the start of civil works on a 220 route-km east-west railway in Laos (RG 12.12 p12). The standard-gauge line is being built by a consortium led by Malaysia’s Giant Consolidated Group and is due to open by 2018; it would run from Savannakhet on the Mekong river to Lao Bao on the Vietnamese border.

Tracklaying has been completed for the 253 km Lhasa - Xigaze line in Tibet.

In December Czech infrastructure manager SŽDC completed a KC2·7bn upgrade of the 11·5 km Bystrice nad Olší – Ceský Tešín line. Work undertaken by OHL ŽS and Subterra included modernisation to permit speeds up to 160 km/h, reconstruction of Trinec station and a new Trinec-mesto halt.

Following a concerns about anti-competitive pricing (RG 10.13 p33), the European Commission has accepted a legally-binding commitment from DB which will see the introduction of revised traction energy charges from July 1, with the cost of electricity separated from the cost of network access.

EBRD is providing Croatia’s HZ Infrastruktura with a €40m state-guaranteed loan to fund track maintenance machinery and labour restructuring. Signed on December 16, it is the first loan under EBRD’s new transport strategy which prioritises environmental and social standards and the role of the private sector (RG 12.13 p9).

The first privately-funded line in China’s Jiangxi province has opened, a 3·9 km link to the Yugan Industrial Park. The main investor in the 130m yuan project is the Jiangxi Mingri industrial group, which expects to recoup its investment in less than 10 years.

The 15 kV 16·7 Hz electrification of DB’s 73 km Reichenbach – Hof line, installed at a cost of €160m, was formally inaugurated in December.