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Passenger News in Brief

01 Aug 2000

On July 11 VIA Rail Canada put into service the first three of five Northern Spirit sleeping cars which are being refurbished for its thrice-weekly Winnipeg - The Pas - Churchill service to remote communities west of Hudson's Bay. VIA has invested C$1m in buying and refurbishing the second-hand stock, which offers single and double bedrooms plus a handicapped-accessible washroom in each vehicle.

German Railway has expanded the range of services available for internet booking through its Surf + Rail site to 332 routes linking 53 cities; tickets printed out at home offer price savings of up to 30% on standard fares.

The Swiss Federal Railways board has approved a SFr89m investment for the EuroVille development at Basel SBB station. This includes a 200 m long 30m wide concourse above the platforms, connecting the main buildings on the city side with a new commercial and retail development to the south which will integrate the existing tram stop and a new park-and-ride facility.

Taiwan Railway Administration has awarded a concession to President Chain Store Corp for the operation of 7-Eleven convenience stores at 60 stations around the network. Replacing existing kiosk concessions, the stores are expected to turn over NT$200m a year.

Madrid Metro has taken a 40% stake in the Metrocall joint venture with Tecnocom which has been formed to install communications links allowing mobile phones to be used throughout the 176 km network from 2003.

Tyne & Wear Passenger Transport Executive Nexus has introduced 39 cycle lockers at stations across its Metro network; only folding bikes are now permitted on trains. Registered users are issued with a key allowing them free access to any locker subject to availability.

Stockholm Transport has selected Gunnebo Metro to install new ticket gates at 40 principal stations by 2005. The new elliptical 'Hidden Gates' to be fitted first at Gullmarsplan will accept magnetic stripe tickets but will be designed for upgrading to take smart cards in the future.

VIA Rail Canada has launched a pilot parcels service on its northern Québec trains, offering station-to-station transits for packages up to 23 kg at between C$10 and C$50. The parcels are carried in the existing baggage cars on the Montreal - Senneterre Abitibi and Montreal - Jonquière Saguenay.

Venice-Simplon Orient Express Ltd is to introduce new itineraries for its Australian Great South Pacific Express cruise train from January 2001. As well as the established run from Sydney to the Great Barrier Reef, the train will visit the Blue Mountains, the Hunter Valley wine region and Canberra.

Eurostar Group opened its booking service on July 10 for this winter's direct ski trains between London and Bourg-St-Maurice, which will operate overnight on Fridays and dayime on Saturdays between December 22 2000 and April 21 2001.

British train operator West Anglia Great Northern is introducing freshly-brewed coffee on its relaunched Stansted Express airport trains in a partnership with Costa Coffee Co; specially-designed coffee machines are being installed on the 10 refurbished Class 317 EMUs to operate the 15min interval service.