n Look for the European Union to put forward a revised list of priorities for the Trans-European Network projects, following the setting up of a high-level review group under former Transport Commissioner Karel van Miert. TEN projects will be split into five categories under new guidelines to be adopted later this year.
n On May 5 the government of Saudi Arabia instructed the Public Investment Fund to launch technical studies for the proposed north-south railway linking Riyadh with mines in the north of the country. International tenders are to be called in June 2004 to build the US$1·7bn line, which would carry 4·5 million tonnes of phosphate a year.
n Netherlands Railways confirmed in May that it would not commit to bidding for all of the 21 operating franchises which have yet to be put out to tender. NS has identified eight or nine routes, mainly regional stopping services, where it believes the return would be too low.
n Work is expected to start shortly on reconstruction of the Ghana Railways Corp main lines from Accra to Tema and Nsawam. According to the Director-General of the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority Ben Owusu-Mensah, GPHA and GRC are discussing the scope for foreign investment with French and Chinese companies.
n Shanghai Railway Administration’s Deputy Director-General Fu Xinhua has announced plans to develop 500 km of railways in the Yangtze delta before Shanghai hosts the World Expo in 2010. As well as the 117 km line to Pudong now under construction, dedicated passenger lines would connect the city to Nanjing and Hangzhou, he said.
n Officials from Argentina’s Neuquén province visited Washington DC in May to negotiate World Bank funding for the planned Ferrocarril Transandino del Sur linking Argentina and Chile.
n Canadian mining group Ivanhoe Mines has formed an alliance with China International Trust & Investment Corp to develop a 290 km rail link from Bayan Obo north of Baotou to serve the company’s planned gold and copper mines at Oyu Tolgoi in southern Mongolia.
n Vietnam’s Southern Transport Research & Development Centre has completed a Siemens-funded feasibility study for two urban rail lines in Ho Chi Minh City. Proposals now being studied by the city council range from a surface light rail network at US$620m to an underground or elevated heavy metro for around US$930m.
n Look for Montréal urban transport authority AMT to start work on a C$39m programme of enabling works for a commuter rail service to Mascouche in the Lanaudière region; according to Québec Transport Minister Serge Ménard, trains should be running by the end of 2004.