As track renewal work has resumed on several sections of the national network in Uruguay, state-owned train operator AFE is due to complete work on a new business plan this month. Under the new government’s 2005-09 budget bill, responsibility for infrastructure will be restored from the Ministry of Transport & Public Works to AFE, which will be empowered to seek private finance for railway projects.

Argentinian construction company and motorway concessionaire Sideco, part of the Macri group, signed a letter of understanding on September 12 to acquire 73% of Belgrano Cargas from Unión Ferroviaria. The potential purchaser has said that a five-year investment programme worth US$150m would be undertaken.

In September King Gyanendra proposed the construction of an electric railway from the southern Nepalese commercial centre of Birganj to Tatopani, close to the border with Tibet.

On September 6 the national congress of Ecuador passed a law to create a new railway company known as EFE which would succeed ENFE and take forward work to revive the national network. On the same day ENFE signed an agreement with the Ministry of Tourism to repair the 45 km Ibarra - Primer Paso section, a US$2m project part-funded by local authorities that would see 30000 sleepers replaced and stations renovated at Ibarra and Salinas.

Israel’s Planning & Building Board has approved the route for the planned 3·5bn shekel Tel Aviv - Jerusalem fast line following the withdrawal of environmental objections.

To allow the export of soda ash from Lake Natron, plans are being drawn up in Tanzania to rehabilitate and increase capacity on the 450 km line from Arusha to the Indian Ocean port of Tanga.

An undersea rail tunnel between Xiangan and Xiamen Island in Fujian province is being planned. Chinese Railways puts the cost at 3·2bn yuan and suggests the 9 km tunnel could open in 2010.

São Paulo state government is proposing a PPP arrangement to finance the planned US$572m Guarulhos International Airport rail link. The 31 km line would run from a transport interchange in Barra Funda, and a 19 km line between Br