Africa: 24 coaches built in Pretoria for DR Congo have been seized by National Railways of Zimbabwe. DRC had defaulted on monthly payments for 50 coaches leased from NRZ in 1998, and the railways have now agreed that the vehicles impounded in Bulawayo will stay in Zimbabwe as part- payment for the US$3m debt.
Belgium: On December 7 SNCB Holding signed an agreement to sell 100% of its ABX Belgium Distribution road transport subsidiary to General Logistics Systems of Amsterdam.
Canada: On December 1 CN paid C$25m to buy the Savage Alberta Railway from Salt Lake City-based Savage Companies. The 586 km line in northern Alberta had been sold by CN in 1999.
Croatia: HZ has completed the reinstatement of war-damaged 25?kV electrification equipment on the Strizivojna-Vrpolje - Slavonski Samac line, part of the corridor from the Hungarian border through to Bosnia and the Adriatic port of Ploce.
Europe: In November the first train crossed the repaired bridge over the Danube near Bogojevo. Traffic on the route between Serbia and Croatia collapsed with the wars of the 1990s, and the bridge was damaged by NATO forces in 1999. The €709 000 rebuild by Mostogradnja has been financed by Norway, Sweden and Belgium.
BMT Transport Solutions has been commissioned by the EU to co-ordinate the €13m Freightwise project, which is being developed by 55 partners in 14 countries to assist the European Commission in the formulation of strategies to support intermodal transport.
On December 10 Slovenian Railways' Class 541 and ÖBB's similar Class 1216 Taurus locos began working cross-border trains through as far as Dobova and Zalog in Slovenia and Villach and Linz in Austria. Crews are changed at the border.
A 1·6 km link between Boncourt in Switzerland and Delle in France which closed in 1992 was re-opened with the December timetable change, SBB operating a train from Neuchâtel every 2 h. Jura and Franche-Comte contributed to the SF1·3m cost, and re-opening as far as Belfort is planned by 2012.
France: The Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region has signed a new contract with SNCF for the operation of TER local services, running until December 31 2016. The region will provide €190·9m a year in operating subsidy. It is the first of 13 such contracts expiring at the end of 2006 to be renewed.
As part of a €72·2m upgrade of the main line to Le Havre between Paris and Mantes-la-Jolie, RFF has brought into service a bay platform at Les Mureaux that should improve timetable reliability. The final stage of the programme will see the KVB ATP system installed between Paris and Mantes in 2010.
On January 1 RFF took over from SNCF the management of 3 000 private sidings connecting freight customers to the national network, including the construction of new connections. RFF says that 80% of freight traffic in France is handled using private sidings.
Buildings and land owned by RFF but not required for railway use are being transferred to Sovafim, which will sell them off to raise money for the state.
Germany: On November 24 parliament formally instructed the federal government to draw up plans for privatising Deutsche Bahn. Draft legislation is to be drawn up by the end of March (RG 12.06 p757).
Netherlands: Last month Swiss logistics company Bertschi began work on a €10m rail terminal in the Port of Rotterdam. The 3·5 ha facility has space to be tripled in size, and will initially have three 450 m tracks it will handle four arrivals and four departures a day from June 2007.
Slovakia: Last month ZS Brno, Betamont Zvolen and Eltra Kosice completed the installation of 25 kV electrification on ZSR's 22 km Zvolen - Banská Bystrica route. EU funding met 75% of the KS1·1bn cost.
UK: The National Rail timetable has been published online as a series of PDF documents for the first time. The May 2007 edition will be the last published on paper, the Association of Train Operating Companies saying demand has fallen from 134 000 copies in 1994 to 20 000 today.