Nigerian Minister of State for Transport Alhaji Mohammed Musahas has held discussions with China Civil Engineering Construction Co in Beijing over extending a Ccecc contract for technical assistance with refurbishment of the NRC network to include the management of rail operations.

Russian Railways President Gennadi Fadeyev has agreed with Siemens Transportation Systems President Hans Schabert that his company will assist with refurbishment of RZD’s Class VL11 3 kV DC electric loco fleet. A joint working party will be formed to look at future motive power developments.

Swiss Federal Railways expects to sign a co-operation agreement with the Luzern-Stans-Engelberg Railway this month over upgrading of the shared section of the Brünig metre-gauge line between Luzern and Hergiswil.

Vietnam Railways’ Director General Dr Nguyen Huu Bang confirmed last month that the government was preparing a new Law on Railway Transport which will be debated by the National Assembly for implementation in 2005. It will allow DSVN to harness private-sector investment in its network development plan, which envisages expenditure of 97000bn dong by 2020.

China’s Expimbank has offered to fund much of the US$400m required to refurbish a 32·2 km section of the North Luzon Railway in the Philippines, linking the Manila suburb of Caloocan with Malolos in Bulacan province. The 12-year loan offer is to support a bid by China National Machinery & Equipment Corp to undertake the work, which would start in 2006. Upgrading of the former PNR alignment is now seen as more cost-effective than building a dedicated Northrail line.

Tallinn port authority expects to sign contracts with the Estonian transport ministry this year for construction of a rail link to the docks at Paldiski. Estimated to cost US$79m, the line would avoid the need for heavy freight trains to pass through the capital. Up to 75% of the finance could come from the European Union’s ISPA fund.

Under the terms of a decree issued last month, the Argentinian government is to invite private companies to take a majority stake in freight operator Belgrano Cargas. State-owned bank BICE will draw up a shortlist of potential candidates, to be selected by Transport Secretary Ricardo Jaime.

Ho Chi Minh City government hopes to start work this year on construction of two metro routes. One will run for 10·2 km between Ben Thanh and Tham Luong, and the other for 10·4 km from Ben Thanh to the western bus station.