Queensland Rail Chief Executive Officer Lance Hockridge officially launched QR National's first Melbourne – Perth container service on November 13. 'QR now offers a full container service from Cairns to Perth via Melbourne', he said, adding that this 'gives customers a third and highly-competitive carrier across the Nullarbor. We are now poised for the next significant growth phase for the business.'
On October 17 the US House of Representatives passed the bi-partisan Railroad Safety Improvement Act, designed to improve railway safety, primarily by mandating more federal inspectors and reducing crew fatigue by amending the rules on working times (RG 1.07 p325). The Federal Railroad Administration would be reorganised as the Federal Railroad Safety Administration, with $1·1bn in funding allocated for the next four years. A number of amendments have been added, including new requirements for railway bridges and restrictions on the inspection of rolling stock in Mexico.
China Shipping Container Lines announced in October that it had reached agreement with Chinese Railways to launch its first intermodal landbridge service carrying containers between Lianyungan port and Moscow via Xinjiang and Kazakhstan. CSCL expects to cut the average journey time between eastern China and Moscow from 60 days to 25.
On October 31 Vietnam's Ministry of Transport and the Vietnam Railway Administration initiated a 15-month study to develop a new set of technical railway regulations and standards, with particular emphasis on urban railways and new line construction. The work is being undertaken in conjunction with the Japan International Co-operation Agency and Vietnam's Science & Technology Department.
The Swiss government approved the ZEB programme of enhancements to the national rail network on October 17. The SFr5·2bn programme of core projects (RG 11.07 p703) will be augmented by further projects requested by the cantons in a package to be known as ZEB2, for which the government has sanctioned SFr40m for preparatory studies. Projects in ZEB2 include construction of a third track on parts of the main line between Genève and Lausanne.