n Vietnam’s Minstry of Transport & Communications has announced that work will begin this year on a 5 km railway extension from Halong to the new Cai Lan deep water port in Quang Ninh province, at a cost of 281bn dong.

n AustralAsia Railway Corp now expects to complete construction of the Alice - Darwin line in December, four months ahead of schedule. Contractor ADRail began tracklaying on the 312 km north of Katherine on April 7, by which time around 190 km of the 475 km segment south of Tennant Creek had been laid.

n The governments of North and South Korea signed a further agreement in Kaesong on March 12 to resume work on reconnecting their networks across the Demilitarised Zone. De-mining along a 100m wide strip was completed in December.

n Hans Schabert, Group President of Transportation Systems, told the Rail-Tech Europe Congress in Utrecht on April 1 that Siemens was completing an ETCS test train that would be commissioned this summer.

n The Arab Gulf Co-operation Council has appointed the Islamic Development Bank to prepare a feasibility study for a rail network linking the member countries. According to Assistant Secretary-General Mohammed Obaid Al Mazroui, the AGCC customs union now covers a population of more than 30 million.

n Canadian National Chief Executive E Hunter Harrison confirmed in April that the railway was interested in taking over the financially-troubled BC Rail. The British Columbia government is expected to invite proposals for an operating concession shortly, but wants to retain ownership of the infrastructure. CN has already submitted a bid to take over Ontario Northland Railway.

n A team from China’s Fourth Railway Institute has completed a feasibility study for construction of a high speed rail link between Beijing, Wuhan and Guangzhou, which would cut the journey time for the 2000 km trip from 23 to 10h.

n Expect the Greek Transport Ministry to call tenders next year for construction of a double-track standard-gauge rail link between Korinthos and Patras at an estimated cost of €660m. Feasibility studies for the project are now nearing completion.

n French Transport Secretary Dominique Bussereau told local representatives on April 7 that the government would ’try to accelerate’ studies into a Bordeaux - Narbonne high speed line, which was put back until 2020 in the recent infrastructure project audit (RG 4.03 p179).

n Utah Transit Authority expects to open its next TRAX light rail extension more than a year ahead of schedule. Development Director Mike Allegra said work on the US$90m route from Rice-Eccles Stadium to the University of Utah Medical Center was 65% complete at the end of March; UTA hopes to have services running by September 28.