n The Gulf Co-operation Council has recommended construction of a US$30bn rail network linking the six partner states which have a combined population of 25 million. United Arab Emirates has launched its own study of the proposals.
n The first of Polish State Railways’ Class EU43 dual-system electric locos is expected to roll out of the Adtranz Pafawag works at Wroclaw in May; based on Italian Railways’ Class E412, it is due to enter service between Warszawa and Berlin later this year.
n The US Trade Development Agency is to fund a US$2m feasibility study for a 590 km rail link between Namibia and Angola. The line would run north from TNT’s Tsumeb railhead to the border town of Oshikango, and thence to Cassinga on a branch of Angola’s Namibe railway running inland from Moçâmedes.
n A study for Spain’s Generalitat de Valencia suggests that a privately-funded high-speed rail link between Madrid and Valencia could be profitable at a capital cost of Pts292bn. A 354 km direct route was rejected in favour of a more southerly 479 km line via Albacete, which would serve a more populous corridor and still give end-to-end journey times under 2h.
n US parcels group UPS has formed a joint venture with the German post office to launch open access express parcels services by the end of 1999. The two partners are to invest DM900 000 this year in developing the Express Shuttle concept.
n The government of Sri Lanka has approved the construction of a US$340m rail link from Colombo to a port city to be built at Ruhunupura in the south of the country. China’s Chenzhou Engineering has been selected to develop the line in conjunction with a US$500m oil refinery.
n A feasibility study for a metro in the Moroccan business centre Casablanca is to be conducted by a French consortium of Bouygues, GEC Alsthom and Systra.
n Serbian Transport Minister Svetolik Kostadinovic announced last month that the goverment plans to start the process of privatising the national rail network before the end of this year.
n New South Wales Rail Access Corp has unveiled an A$1·2bn plan to upgrade track and infrastructure in the Sydney - Newcastle corridor to cut journey times from over 2h to under 1 1??2 h.
n With the backing of Senators Daniel Moynihan and Alfonse D’Amato, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced on March 12 that the city had selected Edwards & Kelcey Engineers for a two-year engineering, economic and environmental study of a freight railway tunnel under New York Harbour linking the Brooklyn port area with Jersey City or Staten Island.
n The government of Québec is planning to merge the transit authorities in Montréal, Laval and the South Shore with effect from July 1, clearing the way for extension of the metro to Laval.
n Swedish State Railway has completed a study into reviving passenger services on the north Botnia link between Luleå and Oulu in Finland. IC-3 type trains able to use an automatic gauge changer at Haparanda are envisaged, whilst a SKr1bn cut-off from Kalix to the border would cut journey times.
n Australian finance ministry spokesman Philip Richardson has indicated to an inquiry that A$250m promised for rail infrastructure improvements would only be paid if state networks made ’real advances’ in eliminating ’operational inconsistencies’.
n The Hong Kong Executive Council has started the formal authorisation process for the MTR extension from Lam Tin to Tseung Kwan O; work is expected to start later this year for opening in 2002.