n France Télécom is to remove its 700 payphones installed in domestic SNCF TGV trainsets, as usage has fallen with the rising popularity of mobile phones. The space freed is to be enclosed as an area where mobile phones can be used without disturbing other passengers.
n Ticket machines have been installed by NS Reizigers in the arrivals area at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Passengers can now purchase their rail tickets for onward travel before collecting their luggage from the baggage reclaim area.
n Brussels-based Transnico International Group has formed a joint venture with Cuban National Railways to operate a luxury tourist train, using up to 21 refurbished coaches with accommodation for 136 passengers on a six-day rail cruise of the island. It is hoped that the Cuba & Caribe Express will begin operation between Habana and Santiago de Cuba by the end of next year, with traction provided on some routes by steam locomotives currently employed in the sugar cane industry.
n In what it claims to be a world first, Austrian Federal Railways has introduced a service for customers to book rail tickets using the state-owned A1 mobile phone network. The cost of the ticket is charged to the caller’s mobile phone account.
n Railtrack of Great Britain is to refurbish Banbury station at a cost of £1·8m, as part of its ongoing Station Regeneration Programme which aims to tackle 2500 stations by 2001 at a total cost of £1bn. Lovell Construction Ltd is due to complete the work by 2000, including a new entrance hall, buffet and toilets as well as re-roofing and platform upgrades.
n Rail Gourmet has won a contract to provide train catering on Finnish Railways, with sister SAirRelations Group company Gourmet Nova now responsible for station catering. Rail Gourmet has taken a 40% stake in train and station catering company Avecra, with VR Ltd retaining the remainder of the shares.
n In a record-breaking summer holiday weekend, SNCF was expecting to carry a total of 2million passengers in 3200 trains to from its Parisian termini between July 30 and August 2. Dedicated staff were to be deployed at over 70 stations in order to help departing or returning holiday-makers.
CAPTION: Metropolitan services were launched in Germany on August 1 between Hamburg and K