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01 Jun 2002

n Communications Minister Nazmul Huda has proposed electrifying the Bangladesh Railway main lines from Dhaka to Chittagong and Rajshahi, as well as building links from Dhaka to Laksam, between Banganbandhu Bridge and Bogra and from Chittagong to Cox's Bazar. Land sales and the recovery of 120bn taka owed by companies and government agencies could improve BR finances, he suggested.

n Legislation to open up Russian Railways infrastructure to other operators is currently being drawn up, according to Deputy Railways Minister Anna Belova. The State Duma was due to consider other railway reform legislation on April 29.

n During an official visit to Spain last month, the head of the city government in Montevideo, Mariano Arana, was due to visit the Bilbao metro. A Spanish company is reported to be willing to examine the feasibility and provide funding for the Uruguayan capital's first metro.

n A 20-year transport master plan for Nigeria is being considered by a senate committee. Minister of Transport Ojo Maduekwe expected to make the document public shortly, suggesting that it would be instrumental in the revival of the rail network.

n The 13 km Ayrum - Sadakhlo route linking Armenia and Georgia is due to be upgraded this year using funds from the European Union's Traceca programme. A feasibility study for reopening the Yerevan - Nakhichevan - Baku route is also to be undertaken in 2002.

n Argentina's Ferrosur Roca has threatened to hand back its freight concession after a successful legal challenge made on safety grounds forced it to suspend the operation of methanol trains from Plaza Huincul to Ensenada under a 15-year contract with Repsol YPF. Operations Manager Gustavo Romera said that the ruling 'renders our business inviable and puts the jobs of the company's 630 employees at risk'.

n Meeting in Yangon last month, members of the Association of South East Asian Nations reaffirmed their commitment to the Singapore - Kunming railway corridor. It was hoped that work would start soon on the 48 km link between Thailand and Cambodia.

n A new direct line from Taipei to Hua-lien is one project contained in a six-year national development programme currently being discussed in Taiwan. The government hopes that cutting the journey time to 70min would boost tourism.

n The government of Angola is considering options for reviving the 1302 km Benguela railway from Lobito to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Continuing state ownership is being examined alongside a public-private venture and concessioning.

n Speaking at a recent meeting of the Northern Corridor Consultative Forum, Uganda's Minister of Works, Housing & Communications Andruale Awuzu made a commitment to privatise URC within two years.

n The city government of Karachi is considering a draft memorandum of understanding that would be signed with Inter Globe to build a 100 km metro network. The estimated cost of the project is Rs1·2bn.

n Auckland Regional Council is to launch an open tender for new trains for use from 2006. Existing trainsets will be refurbished at a cost of NZ$8m, and other vehicles are sought in the interim.

n STCUM of Montréal is expected to call tenders this month for supply and installation of contactless smart card ticketing by the end of 2004; a C$102m deal is to be signed in February.

n The Spanish government expects the Madrid - Barcelona high speed line to open as far as Lleida by the end of this year, with the rest completed by the end of 2004. Services will call at Guadalajara, Calatayud, Zaragoza, Lleida and Perafort near Tarragona.

n Metr