n Axor of Canada has signed an agreement with Egypt’s National Authority for Tunnels to carry out feasibility studies on a build-operate-transfer approach to the Abu Qir - Misr Station section of the Alexandria metro. The study is being part funded by the Canadian International Development Agency.
n On December 12 French Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot announced that lorry shuttle services would be introduced over the Mont Cenis line in 2002. The loading gauge will be increased to UIC B+ gauge in 2005-06. The next Franco-Italian summit discussing longer term plans for a base tunnel and high-speed link between Lyon and Torino will be held on January 29.
n Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National are investigating sharing their lines between Toronto and Winnipeg as a way of cutting costs. One option is to use their two routes to provide two one-way tracks, removing the restrictions on train lengths and frequencies caused by passing loops. A second option is a jointly operated line, saving on maintenance costs.
n The Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs has issued preliminary clearance for MBTA’s proposed commuter rail extension to New Bedford and Fall River, along a right of way last used by trains 42 years ago. Several affected communities are opposed to the $600m project.
n Australian Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson said a feasibility study by the Bureau of Transport Economics had indicated the economic potential of the 1700 km Melbourne - Brisbane link. The Federal government contributed $300000 to the study which showed the corridor was viable and could be built without cost to the government.
n Egypt’s Transport Minister Ibrahim el-Demiri has called for the creation of a common strategic database by members of the African Railway Union, and for the development of connections to link rail services throughout the entire continent.
n On December 14 Denmark’s Ministry of Transport held a seminar providing background information for potential bidders in the forthcoming privatisation of passenger services.
n The government of Brazil is to offer a concession to build and operate the 2200 km Belém - Goiânia north-south line, which will require R$1·6bn of investment. At present 226 km of the line has been built, and is being operated by CVRD. The concessionaire will be expected to provide R$900m, and to raise another R$400m from private equity funds and foreign investors.
n Scandlines has proposed a DM60m superferry for the Gedser - Rostock Warnemünde train ferry route. This would allow a 41/2 h København - Berlin journey time.