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Intelligence May 2006

01 May 2006

Argentina: ALL Mesopotamica has received the first of four General Motors GT18MC locomotives which will be put into service this year. The ex-Spoornet locos are being transferred from ALL's 1000mm gauge operation in Brazil.

Canada: RailAmerica transferred ownership of the right of way of the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway to the Island Corridor Foundation on March 24 (RG 4.06 p176), receiving C$1m in cash for contract and regulatory rights and anticipating a C$5m tax benefit. Operations will be transferred to a new operator on or before June 30.

Chile: As part of its US$10m workshop investment programme, on April 6 EFE formally opened a maintenance facility at Victoria for the DMUs deployed on the route to Puerto Montt (RG 4.06 p217). The new facility has been built on the site of a former engine shed at a cost of 1·2bn pesos.

China: The east-bound bore of the 21·05 km Wushaoling tunnel in Gansu province was opened on March 30, permitting 160 km/h running and reducing the Dacaigou - Longgou distance by 30·4 km. The west-bound bore will open in October.

On April 18 the Ministry of Railways announced the launch of Nanjing - Xi'an services via Hefei along a new line through Henan province.

Europe: SBB and DB are planning to alter the Stuttgart - Zürich service in December, with all trains worked by seven-car ICE-T sets rather than a mix of nine-car Cisalpino and five-car ICE-T trains. This will eliminate Stuttgart - Milano through services.

Finland: The cabinet has decided to keep VR under the Ministry of Transport & Communications when responsibility for most state-owned enterprises is moved from their respective ministries to the Office of the Prime Minister next year.

France: Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur regional council has voted in favour of taking over responsibility for the Chemins de Fer de Provence concession to operate the metre gauge Nice - Digne line. PACA is providing €12m for two DMUs to be delivered in 2008 and is proposing a €70m capacity increase.

Germany: The EuRailCo consortium of RATP Développement and Transdev has been named as preferred bidder for a 15-year contract to operate regional passenger services on the Kön - Koblenz - Mainz route. EuRailCo holds a 75% stake in regional operator Trans Regio.

International: An agreement has been signed by the Chinese and Russian ministries of transport for China's Container Transport Co and TransContainer to operate heavy-duty 20ft and 40ft equivalent containers in cross-border traffic.

Japan: Privatisation of JR Central was completed on April 5 when the Japan Railway Construction, Transport & Technology Agency sold its 286071 shares.

Yamato Transport has begun using three refrigerated containers developed in conjunction with JR Freight to transport goods for home deliveries between Tokyo and Kyushu. The company says the switch from road transport to rail will save around 850 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Netherlands: On April 13 the cabinet confirmed the decision not to proceed with a proposed Lelystad to Groningen link, fearing budget overruns and that the project would not be cost-effective. The Transport Ministry has withdrawn €2·7bn reserved for the €6bn scheme, and may use the funds to upgrade the Utrecht - Arnhem - Germany route or the Hanze line to be built between Lelystad and Zwolle.

Poland: PKP reduced its losses to €178·8m in 2005, down from €543·9m in 2004. The company blamed the failure of local governments to provide €122·5m promised to support regional services. 'Only four out of 11 of the group's companies recorded a loss, which proves that Polish rail can bring profits', said CEO Andrzej Wach.

Spain: Grupo Acciona subsidiary Press Cargo Tren has become the fourth company to be granted a licence to operate freight trains on the national network. Applications have also been submitted by Activa Rail (Transfesa), Tracción Rail (Azvi) and EuskoTren.

United Kingdom: Royal Mail has renewed for a further 12 months GB Railfreight's contract to move around a million letters a day on one train in each direction between London and Scotland.

On April 11 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister announced it would provide £8·2m to fund track and signalling works for the planned £3·8m Aylesbury Vale Parkway station, to open in 2009 on a freight line north of the town where significant residential expansion is planned.

USA: On April 20 Wabtec Railway Electronics announced a contract to conduct a positive train control pilot programme with its Electronic Train Management System on two Union Pacific routes, in Nebraska and from Washington state to Idaho.