n Australia’s Speedrail consortium hopes to sign Heads of Agreement with the federal and New South Wales state governments by the end of this year for the A$3·7bn Sydney - Canberra high-speed line, so that construction can start during 2000.

n The Transport Ministers of Bulgaria and Macedonia have agreed to raise US$220m in commercial funding to complete construction of the 57 km railway from Kumanovo in Macedonia to the Bulgarian border at Gyueshevo.

n The Nigerian Ministry of Transport is expected to appoint Rites to take over the management and maintenance at Nigerian Railways Corp; the present contract with Chinese Civil Engineering & Construction Corp ends on December 31.

n The governments of British Columbia and Washington state have formed a task group to study upgrading of the Vancouver - Seattle corridor for 200 km/h operation.

n Look for the Spanish Ministry of Development to decide whether to convert parts of Renfe’s main line network to standard gauge to handle AVE and international services; a feasibility study was completed by consultants Ineco in July.

n French Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot has reached agreement with regional leaders for a Fr4·5bn upgrading of rail links between Paris, northwest Ile-de-France and Normandy, with the aim of cutting Paris - Rouen journey times.

n Look for the Estonian Privatisation Agency to appoint the consultants to advise on the sale of Eesti Raudtee by next May.

n The German federal government is to announce a DM343m package for modernisation of the Saarbrücken - Mannheim line by 2005-06 to handle TGV Est trains from Paris.

n Look for the Manila Light Rail Transit Authority to resume tendering for mechanical and electrical work on metro Line 2, following an 18-month delay.

n Hannover-based consultancy TransTeC is to develop a master transport plan for the Chilean city of Concepción which is likely to include proposals for a light rail network.

n Washington DC metro operator WMATA is planning a 5 km extension of its Blue line from Addison Road to Largo, Maryland, at a cost of US$434m.

n Look for Montréal mayor Pierre Bourque to publish proposals for a light rail network serving Pointe aux Trembles, Ile Notre Dame, Ile St Hélène, the Old Port and Cité du Multimédia.

n Feasibility studies are to be launched for the construction of a light rail network in the city of Peshawar, in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier province.

n The Iraqi Transport Ministry announced in August that it was to resume planning work for the proposed Baghdad metro network, which was put on hold in 1980 during the war with Iran.