Addressing the African Union Rail Conference in Gauteng on November 20, South Africa's Minister of Transport Jeff Radebe announced that talks have begun with the long-term goal of building a railway linking Lesotho with Durban and Port Elizabeth. The only railway into the mountain kingdom runs to the capital, Maseru, from near Ladybrand, 145 km east of Bloemfontein.
Last month was due to see the launch of a joint venture to operate a second autoroute ferroviaire service in France, following the start of the Perpignan - Bettembourg route in 2007. On November 15 the Circle for Optimodality in Europe announced that the Atlantic axis would be operational by the end of 2009, subject to the completion of loading gauge clearance works. Two daily Modalohr trains would link Bayonne with Brétigny near Paris and two would run between Bayonne and Dourges near Lille.
The acquisition of 212 new diesel-electric locomotives from EMD for South Africa's Transnet Freight Rail was expected to be finalised by the end of 2007. The deal forms a significant part of the railway's five-year, R35bn recapitalisation.
On December 1 ADIF brought back into use the second track between Sants and Bellvitge in Barcelona, which had been closed to traffic over a period of 42 days following a series of collapses caused by tunnelling works for the high speed line from Camp de Tarragona (RG 12.07 p756). The final section of the high speed line from Madrid to Barcelona might now open in February, before the general election on March 9.
The bill introduced by the government of Argentina to create publicly-owned railway infrastructure and operating companies (RG 8.07 p504) ran out of parliamentary time before the composition of the lower house changed on December 10, when Cristina Fernández de Kirchner succeeded her husband as President. Prior to taking up his post on the same day, the new Governor of Buenos Aires province Daniel Scioli indicated that he expected passenger operator Ferrobaires to transfer to federal control in February, one element of the project to build a high speed line between the capital and Mar del Plata.