Hong Kong metro operator MTR Corp has started installing bright red straps between vehicles on some trains, to alert visually-impaired passengers and prevent them mistaking the space for a door and falling into the gap. The fitting of 95 trainsets on the three urban lines is due to be completed in April 2001.

Travel InfoSystems has launched a UK rail information and journey planning WAP site in conjunction with BT Internet. Currently the service only covers rail services, but it is hoped to introduce other modes in the future.

Free train travel for under 16s has been withdrawn in Ukraine, with effect from January 1 2001. The free travel offer introduced by government decreee had led to an eight-fold increase in child travel (RG 12.00 p805), and was expected to create an estimated loss of Hr300m per year.

In mid-October Romania’s transport ministry announced that all inter-city trains in the country would have their restaurant cars upgraded at a cost of 700m lei per vehicle. The work will be undertaken by CFR-SIRV Titu, a subsidiary of passenger operator CFR Calatori. The ministry expects an increase in state funding for rolling stock modernisation following revisions to the state budget.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express has appointed Onerail to install a global reservations system, which is due to go live on June 1 2001. Chief Executive Nick Varian says the move to centralise all booking data ’will undoubtedly improve our customer service, allowing us to tailor holidays with greater ease and speed, and plan ahead with greater accuracy.’ Onerail has also signed an agreement to provide rail content to Viator’s e-commerce travel database.

Deutsche Bahn is using holographic security foils as part of a new automated ticketing system to deter counterfeiters. The security holograms are manufactured by OpSec Security Technologies, a division of Applied Optical Technologies, and applied to watermarked thermal paper stock using a high speed foil application system. Touch-screen vending machines at stations will print ticket details onto the thermal paper held in the machines as blank stock.

Assistance to help visually and mobility impaired people find their way around selected London Underground stations has been made available by Harrow-based www.describe-online.com. Transport for London has contributed £10000 to the development, which initially covers 19 stations - key interchanges and other stations often used by visually impaired people, such as South Woodford which serves a guide dog training centre.