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News in Brief

11 Dec 2010

Having agreed to take over ÖBB's 760 mm gauge Mariazellerbahn with effect from December 12, the Land of Niederösterreich has announced plans to invest €60m in new rolling stock. Nine three-car EMUs will arrive from Stadler in 2012, together with four first-class Panorama coaches. The line is to be run by the Land-owned transport operating company Növog.

Japan's Hojo Railway, a third-sector operator in Kyodo province, began operating its first biodiesel train in mid-October, using refined cooking oils collected from restaurants.

The government of New Zealand has released NZ$128m to fund track renewals, the purchase of new wagons and capacity enhancement works around Wellington as part of KiwiRail's NZ$250m capital programme for 2010-11.

India's Eastern Railway put the country's first air-conditioned double-deck trainset into revenue service between Kolkata's Howrah station and Dhanbad at the end of October. Rolled out by RCF Kapurthala in March, the prototype set has eight coaches and two power cars. Designed for 160 km/h operation, the stainless steel coaches can each carry 128 passengers.

To avoid the cost and delay of remote refuelling stops, and allow for cheaper bulk fuel purchasing, QR National has introduced 'fuel-as-you-go' operation on its Trans-Australian intermodal services between Melbourne and Perth. The locomotives' fuel tanks are constantly replenished from a separate tank wagon in the train.

French infrastructure manager RFF signed a 'quality accord' with Europorte on October 28 covering the allocation of paths to the open access freight operator in 2011. It is the third such agreement since July 1, following deals with SNCF's long-distance passenger and freight business units.

Swiss Transport Ministry BAV has agreed to extend the concession for RAlpin AG to operate transalpine rolling motorway services over the 414 km route between Freiburg and Novara from 2012 to 2018. From January 2011 RAlpin will take over the Gotthard RoLa service between Basel and Lugano, and the company is now looking at launching a Freiburg – Domodossala route.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced on November 4 that the state had reached a three-year agreement to subsidise 40 loss-making inter-regional and long-distance passenger routes with effect from January 1 2011. The annual cost of around €200m will be covered by a tax on SNCF which will raise €175m and a tax on motorway tolls expected to generate a further €35m.