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News in Brief

01 Jul 2007
  • On June 15 a ceremony took place at Frutigen to mark the opening of the 34·6 km Lötschberg base tunnel. A long stretch of single track remains at the northern end, and tunnel operator BLS stipulates that any train running more than 6 min late will forfeit its path and take the classic mountain route instead
  • Berlin tram route M2 reached Alexanderplatz on May 30 as a new stop opened on Dirckenstrasse. The 1·2 km branch from Mollstrasse/Prenzlauer Allee is the second tram line into Alexanderplatz and avoids a long diversion via Schönhauser Strasse
  • On June 9 a ceremony was held in Strasbourg to celebrate the launch of revenue services on TGV Est Européen the following day. Among the guests were Prime Minister François Fillon, the then Minister for Ecology & Sustainable Development Alain Juppé, and SNCF President Anne-Marie Idrac. SNCF expects to double its market share on the Paris - Strasbourg route to two-thirds.
  • Deutsche Bahn has joined partners CMA-CGM and Zim Logistics of Israel in taking an 8% share in China Rail Intermodal. CRI has a budget of US$1·5bn to develop terminals in 18 of China's largest cities to facilitate container traffic from the east coast ports, little of which is currently rail-borne. The three foreign companies are to invest US$120m in the venture.
  • Norfolk Southern announced last month that it plans to invest more than $2bn to develop a 2 250 km Crescent Corridor between New Jersey and Louisiana. Capacity expansion along the route and construction of two new terminals is expected to boost traffic betweeen the Northeast and Southeast regions. Work is due to start next year for completion between 2009 and 2013.
  • Netherlands Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings officially inaugurated the four-tracked main line between Amsterdam and Utrecht in a ceremony at Abcoude station on June 2. Noting that the addition of two new fast tracks would bring a huge increase in caapcity, ProRail Chairman Bert Klerk added that safety had been improved by the elimination of all level crossings along the line.
  • Russian Railways President Vladimir Yakunin confirmed on May 24 that Alstom Transport was the sole bidder to supply high speed trains to the Karelian Trains joint venture formed by RZD and VR to upgrade the Helsinki - St Petersburg service. The JV is planning to buy three or four trainsets for €140m, and Alstom is expected to supply a variant of the Sr220 Pendolinos it has already built for Finnish inter-city routes.