n Australia's federal government has agreed that from July 2000 the railways will no longer have to pay the diesel fuel excise levy used to fund road maintenance and construction; this will cut A$70m from the railways' tax bill in 2000-01 (RG 3.99 p127).
n The Nigerian government has signed a memorandum of understanding with Canadian engineering group SNC Lavalin for construction of a 500 km standard-gauge rail link between Lagos and Abuja. The C$2bn project would be funded 60% by loans from the International Finance Corp and 40% by local bank equity.
n Look for Indian Railways to start work on renovating the 10 km cross-border link between Agartala and Akhaura to open a second rail corridor into Bangladesh.
n Tenders are expected to be called next April for construction of the 1500 km second phase of Brazil's North-South Railway. The 106 km operational section between Acailandia and Imperatriz is to be extended 120 km south to Estreito later this year.
n Look for plans to build a direct standard-gauge rail link between Aleppo and Damascus to be revived following the signing of a transport co-operation protocol between the governments of Turkey and Syria in May.
n Sudan Railways Corp is planning to privatise the operation of passenger and freight services by the end of 2001. SRC is to concentrate on upgrading the 5000 km state-owned network.
n French Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot has set up a project team to develop proposals for modernisation of the Béziers - Neussargues - Clermont Ferrand line as a north-south freight artery, including 25 kV 50Hz electrification (RG 11.98 p750).
n Look for the Turkish General Directorate of Railway Construction to re-invite tenders for the 92 km Turkish section of the proposed Kars - Tbilisi rail link, following a government move last month to reinstate the project in the investment programme.
n New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority is to include up to 1200 new metro cars in its next capital programme to be submitted to the state government in October; they would initiate replacement of 30-year old R-32, R-38, R-40 and R-42 vehicles.
n London Transport and the London Cross-River Partnership are studying proposals for a light rail line serving the Covent Garden and Russell Square areas. The favoured route would link Euston and King's Cross to Waterloo, Stockwell and Peckham.
n Look for the Turkish municipality of Isparta to call tenders for construction of an 11·6 km light rail line from Ayazmana to Mehmet Tonge; the final plans were to be approved last month.
n SNC-Lavalin has proposed the creation of a joint venture with Manila's Light Rail Transit Authority to build and operate a 12 km extension of LRT Line 1 to Cavite at a cost of C$600m.