During an official visit to Chile, Argentinian President Néstor Kirchner announced in Santiago on March 14 that tenders would soon be called for work to restore the central rail crossing of the Andes between Mendoza and Los Andes.

Chinese Railways expects to start work this year on an underground link between its two main stations in Beijing, to be completed by 2008 at a cost of 2bn yuan.

A preferred bidder for a 75% stake in Argentina’s freight operator Belgrano Cargas is expected to be announced on April 1. Financial bids from a consortium led by Emepa SA and from Benito Roggio Transporte SA were opened by Transport Secretary Ricardo Jaime on March 16.

With the French government being pressed by the European Commission to liberalise rail freight operations (p181), SNCF confirmed on March 9 that it had agreed to train drivers for Connex open-access subsidiary CFTA Cargo. EWS International has applied to RFF for paths and expects to launch its first open access services in northern France by the end of this year.

Dubai-based Naran Group announced in February that it had won a US$5m contract from Iraq’s Ministry of Transportation for design and development of an elevated metro or monorail line around Baghdad, reactivating a proposal from 1982-83.

Harbin municipal government has applied to China’s State Planning Committee for permission to develop a five-line metro totalling 143 km. The 38·4bn yuan project is expected to take around 20 years.

Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu has signed an agreement with US firm Lemna International for development of a light rail network in the Nigerian port at a projected cost of US$24·5m.

Alberto S