Intelligence December 2007
Argentina: The government has extended for a second period of 180 days SOE's concession to operate the Belgrano Cargas network (RG 11.07 p683) on an emergency basis. A further 8·4m pesos was made available to support operations.
Following the signature of an agreement between the provinces of Chaco and Santa Fe, Sefecha passenger services from Cacuí to Los Amores were extended by 23 km to Cañada Ombú with effect from November 6.
Canada: On November 1 CPR and CN announced a new routing protocol to direct freight through the most efficient interchange locations, increasing interline traffic at 14 gateways and reducing movements at 15. CN has routing protocol agreements with six Class 1 railways while CPR has agreements with three.
China: Work has begun on a 10·8 km tunnel beneath the Pearl River estuary at Shiziyang as part of the Guangzhou - Shenzhen Passenger-Dedicated Line.
Czech Republic: On October 8 OHL ZS, Skanska and SSZ began a KC2·42bn remodelling of the junction at Breclav near the border with Austria and Slovakia. This includes resignalling with ESA 11 interlockings from AZD Praha and a speed increase from 80 to 130 km/h.
Europe: Euro Cargo Rail is providing traction for an Open Kombi intermodal service operating three times a week to Milano from the Paris port authority's terminal at Gennevilliers. An intermediate call at Culmont-Chalindrey and extension of the service to Le Havre are planned for 2008.
Bulgaria's Ministry of Transport has signed a €62·6m contract with Spain's FCC Construction for a 2 km road and rail bridge over the Danube beyween Vidin and Calafat in Romania. High-Point Rendal will supervise the €236m project, funded by EIB and ISPA.
Germany: The Land of Brandenburg has selected ODEG to operate route RB35 services from Fürstenwalde to Bad Saarow-Pieskow for two years from December 12.
Indonesia: State mining firm PT Bukit Asam is to form a joint venture with China Railway Engineering Corp for the construction of a US$1·1bn rail link between Tanjung Enim mine in South Sumatra and nearby ports by 2010.
Isle of Man: ECT Rail Projects subsidiary RMS Locotec has begun a 16-week renewal of 5·6 km of life-expired track on the Manx Electric Railway under a £1m contract from the Manx government. Two 914 mm gauge road-rail excavators have been acquired.
South Africa: Western Cape Metrorail has introduced a peak-hour premium fare commuter service from Khayelitsha to Cape Town. The 300-seat 'luxury' train has dedicated service and security crew and limited stops; it offers newspapers, drinks and laptop connections.
Switzerland: A memorandum of understanding was signed on November 9 to set up a regional S-Bahn network based on St Gallen. The canton, Swiss Federal Railways, Südostbahn and Thurbo agreed to provide services between principal stations at 30 min intervals, assuming completion of the NEAT and ZEB national rail investment programmes plus a further spend of SFr49m by SBB and SFr18m by SOB.
UK: On November 16 the Department for Transport issued invitations to tender for the Intercity Express Programme contract to supply a national fleet of inter-city trainsets. The shortlisted bidders are Alstom-Barclays Rail Group, Express Rail Alliance (Bombardier, Siemens, Angel Trains and Babcock & Brown) and Hitachi Europe.
Work on the delayed Thameslink Programme upgrade of the north - south commuter route through London and related lines formally began on October 24, with the start of work to extend platforms at Luton Airport Parkway station. The £5·5bn project is now due to be completed by the end of 2015.
Arup and Interfleet are to advise the Department for Transport on technical and business case matters associated with the procurement of new trains under the Thameslink Programme.
USA: The board of Denver Regional Transportation District formally selected diesel rather than electric traction for the FasTracks Northwest and North Metro commuter rail corridors on October 16. The 30 km North Metro line will connect central Denver to 160th Avenue in Adams County, while the 66 km Northwest route will run to Boulder and Longmont.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has awarded Cape Rail subsidiary Massachusetts Coastal Railroad a 10-year contract to operate 97 km of state-owned railway from January 1, with an option for extension.
State-owned North Carolina Railroad announced on October 30 that it had appointed HNTB Corp to study a potential peak-hour commuter rail service linking Greensboro, Durham, Raleigh and Goldsboro along existing tracks. The $0·4m study will price capital improvements along the primarily single-track 280 km route but will not forecast ridership or operating costs.
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's $512m Greenbush commuter rail line was inaugurated on October 30. There are 12 daily round trips on the 28·5 km, seven-station route.