Chinese Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun confirmed in January that the government had decided to make the Beijing - Shanghai high speed line its ’first priority’ in the 2006-10 expansion plan, which envisages investment of 1250bn yuan to build 9800 km of new lines. The ministry plans to build the line for 300 km/h operation, having ruled out maglev.

Meeting in Athens on January 27, transport ministers from the South East European Co-operation Process agreed to develop a high-performance regional rail network with 16 main axes by 2020, linking the capitals of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Turkey.

Consultants reviewing the prospects for reviving bauxite mining in Liberia have concluded that the project would be viable if the rail link from Port Loko can be reactivated within the next two years.

The Development Bank of South Africa is reported to have expressed interest in funding the proposed North Western Railway intended to open up new mineral reserves in Zambia (RG 6.05 p301).

Shanghai municipality is seeking government approval to extend the Pudong airport maglev to the city’s domestic airport at Hongqiao, offering the prospect of services covering the 55 km between the two airports in 15min.

Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp announced on February 8 that it expected to open an initial 8·6 km section of its Red Line for passengers by the end of October. Services on the five-station section between Hanmin Road in Hsiaokang (R3) and the FE21 Mega Shopping Centre (R8) would initially be free of charge.

Hong Kong’s Executive Council has instructed KCRC to press ahead with planning for the Northern Link, which would connect West Rail to Lok Ma Chau and enable trains from the Guangzhou - Shenzhen high speed line to run through to West Kowloon. The anticipated Kowloon - Guangzhou journey time is 60min, compared to 100min for the through trains on the existing line.

At the end of January, the New York state Department of Transportation unveiled a review of the Hudson Line linking New York, Albany and Schenectady, which is owned by Metro North and CSX. The study by Systra recommends 15 specific projects to relieve bottlenecks and boost performance at a cost of more than $400m.