Venice Simplon-Orient Express and Queensland Rail are to suspend services of the Great South Pacific Express luxury train from June 8, blaming a downturn in the international tourist market.

Hellenic Railways real estate wing GaiaOSE has appointed Planet Ernst & Young to advise on the development and management of its real estate and office properties. SGI-Trademco will carry out a study of plans for upgrading and development of stations.

CFR SA has begun a €76m upgrade of 20 stations in Romania, funded by EBRD and Credit Suisse First Boston.

Upgraded passenger facilities at Johannesburg Park station, Pretoria and Durban were officially inaugurated on March 31. Luggage handling facilities, security and accessibility have been improved by Intersite Property Management Services, with premier class lounges provided in Pretoria and Johannesburg at a total cost of R50m.

First Option has signed a contract to operate hotel, coach, ferry and sightseeing tour booking services at the 16 stations managed by Network Rail. It currently has outlets at seven of the stations.

Long-distance train fares in Zimbabwe were increased by over 40% in March. Urban fares in Harare and Bulawayo were unchanged, but NRZ has proposed a review. ’All costs related to the provision of transport and other services have escalated’, said a spokesman. Replacing stolen equipment is estimated to cost Z$8m per month, and to cause 44% of train delays.

Using equipment developed by Magnadata, low-cost disposable smart cards can be rapidly encoded with information including sequential numbers, passenger details and expiry dates while the same data is simultaneously printed on the ticket. Smart iX ISO 14443 standard Type A and B low-cost cards are among the range of smart tickets available.

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