OPEN-ACCESS freight train operator rail4chem announced on May 3 that it was planning to launch services between Germany and the UK from the beginning of 2005. The company is currently in discussion with prospective customers, and proposes to run a block train between Nürnberg and Dollands Moor in 26h.

Last year rail4chem applied to the Ministry of Transport for a safety certificate to run in France, and approached RFF for paths between Saarbrücken and Calais-Fréthun. The company is expected to order up to five Class 437000 three-voltage Prima electric locos from Alstom able to run in France and Germany.

On May 12 rail4chem and ShortLines confirmed that they had accelerated their Rotterdam - Worms container service by up to 2h, by eliminating the change from electric to diesel haulage at Venlo. The trains are now worked throughout by Class 66 diesel locos, and train crews from the two companies have also been licenced to work in both Germany and the Netherlands.