n Expect a programme for the privatisation of Estonian Railways to be published this month. Roads & Communications Minister Toivo Jurgenson hopes to complete the sale around the start of 2000, and expects to retain at least 33% of the shares.
n Upgrading of the Tecate - Plaster City section of the San Diego & Arizona Eastern route for US$100m has been proposed, to improve access to the eastern United States from the Port of San Diego and car assembly plants around the Mexican city of Tijuana.
n The government of Zimbabwe has selected Murray & Roberts as its preferred partner for construction of a line from Harare to Chitungwiza. The firm was responsible for the Beitbridge - Bulawayo Railway (p597).
n Look for the Philippines government to invite bids later this year for a build-operate-transfer concession to construct 2000 km of railway on the island of Mindanao. Adtranz, Siemens and Transnet are amongst 10 companies that have expressed interest.
n The Russian government has indicated its support for the construction of a rail tunnel to Sakhalin, which would link the island’s oil industry and ice-free ports into the Trans-Siberian Railway. A feasibility study is to be completed by the middle of 2001.
n A pilot concession to run one of Metrorail’s commuter routes could start next year, in conjunction with a scheme to extend either the East Rand line or the Blue Downs line. Johannesburg council is considering proposals for a rail link to the international airport.
n Caltrain is expected to start work next year on the electrification of the San Francisco - San Jose route, once the current US$41m programme of track renewal and installation of active warning devices is complete. Electrification is costed at US$836m and would cut journey times for commuters by up to 21%.
n Montréal’s Agence Métropolitaine de Transport has reached agreement with CN over running commuter trains to Saint Hilaire, with stops at Saint Lambert, Saint Bruno and McMasterville/Otterburn Park. The service could begin running as far as Saint Bruno once a C$23·7m upgrading package is agreed, with five trains a day running to Saint Hilaire by 2001.
n New Orleans Regional Transportation Authority is seeking FTA funding for preliminary engineering and environmental impact studies for the 5 km St Claude route from Canal Street to the Industrial Canal. Initial studies by Parsons Brinckerhoff have suggested that the new line would cost US$82m.
n The Indian government has approved a 21 km circular light rail line with 11 stops in the Mumbai suburb of Thane. Costed at Rs7bn, the scheme is to be undertaken by Mahatashtra State Road Development Corp.
n Look for metro plans in Miami to be scaled down after voters rejected a 1% increase in sales tax to help fund a US$3·7bn programme with 145 km of new routes. A 15·3 km north-south route and a 19 km east-west line are now at the advanced planning stage.