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News in Brief

23 May 2009

The New Zealand government has scrapped the previous administration’s plans for regional car fuel taxes to fund transport investment. Suburban electrification in Auckland will now be funded through capital appropriation or additional debt. The government has decided the nationalised KiwiRail should own the new passenger trains for Auckland and Wellington, as this will be cheaper than regional purchasing.

Under plans to upgrade rail services in eastern Taiwan work is to start this year to electrify the Hua-lien - Tai-tung line by 2013.

Nigerian Minister of Transport Alhaji Ibrahim Bio told parliament the government will proceed with the $8·3bn Lagos - Kano modernisation project, despite China being no longer prepared to provide a US$2·5bn contribution. China is committed to a US$500m concessionary loan, but the balance must be obtained from Chinese banks at the prevailing interest rate. Cancellation of the contract with China Civil Engineering Construction would require the Nigerian government to pay up to US$1·4bn in compensation.

The Western Australia government signed a development agreement with Japanese-backed Oakajee Port & Rail on March 20. Premier Colin Barnett said the proposed A$4bn port, industrial estate and open access railway to Weld Range and Jack Hills mining tenements ‘is the single most important project for WA’s economic development over the next 50 years’. A banking study will be completed by March next year, and construction could begin in 2010 with export shipments starting in 2013.

The Oberelbe and Leipzig transport authorities have selected incumbent DB Regio to operate regional services between Leipzig and Dresden for 10 years from June 2011.

Canadian Pacific Railway is to sell part of its 50% stake in the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership to Borealis Infrastructure, the infrastructure investment arm of pension fund Omers that owns the other 50% share in the cross-border tunnel between Detroit in the USA and Windsor in Canada. CP will raise C$110m by decreasing its stake from 50% to 16·5%, while retaining exclusive rights to operate and maintain the tunnel.

Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa was formally launched on March 20. Reporting to the Department of Transport, it is an umbrella division encompassing Metrorail, SA Rail Commuter Corp, inter-city rail operator Shosholoza Meyl and inter-city bus operator Auto-pax. Chairman Sfiso Buthelezi said it will spend R25bn over three years, but for significant capacity increases ‘new infrastructure, technology and systems would be required’. Initial investigations are looking into a Johannesburg - Durban high-speed service.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh started up a tracklaying machine on the A$324m Gold Coast rail extension running 4·1 km from Robina to Varsity Lakes on March 31. ‘This project will provide greatly improved access to rail services for people living in the southern Gold Coast region’, she said.