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01 Apr 2002

n Chinese Railways Minister Fu Zhihuan confirmed in February that CR's freight and passenger businesses will be reformed as separate companies over the next five years. Foreign companies will be permitted to form joint ventures with Chinese firms from 2003 to operate freight trains on selected routes, and as a first step, the regional administrations in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou will be allowed to operate over other regions' tracks.

n The Western Australia Supreme Court is to hear a case on April 3 brought by Hope Downs Management Services against BHP Billiton Iron Ore which has refused permission for Hope Downs to share its tracks to Port Hedland. If the challenge fails, Hope Downs may build a new line parallel to the BHP route to Port Hedland, where it plans to develop a 750m long wharf.

n Robe River Joint Venture Partners expects to bring its West Angeles iron ore mine on stream in mid-2002. Agreement was reached last year for Robe River to share tracks with Hamersley Iron, allowing the mine to be served by a branch off Hamersley's Yandi line (RG 8.01 p509).

n The government of South Korea says it will press ahead with plans to privatise KNR, although the legislative bill was withdrawn from the National Assembly after a two-day strike in February.

n Meeting Bombardier Inc President Robert Brown in February, Russian Minister of Railways Gennadi Fadeyev invited Bombardier Transportation to form a joint venture with the Novocherkassk and Kolomna locomotive works to build additional dual-system EP10 three-phase motored electric locos for RZD.

n Fret SNCF Strategy Director Corinne Orzechowski has indicated that the French freight rail operator plans to purchase 6300 new wagons and modernise 4000 others during 2006-10.

n With the public inquiry now concluded, the recently-created authority for the Nice conurbation is seeking confirmation that the French government will contribute €53·3m to the €291·1m required to build an 8·6 km light rail route. The government is keen to see a northern extension to L'Ariane included in the first phase.

n Bangladesh Communications Mister Nazmul Huda has started negotiations with Russian consultancy Metrogiprostroy for a feasibility study and detailed design of a metro network in Dhaka.

n The Panama Ministry of Public Works has unveiled plans for a 13 km light rail line in Panama City, linking Plaza Cinco de Mayo with San Isidro.

n Beijing municipal government plans to invest up to 90bn yuan in extensions to the metro network that could total 150 km before the city hosts the Olympic Games in 2008.

n Expect Hong Kong's Executive Council to approve in June construction of Kowloon - Canton Railway's 7·3 km East Rail branch to Lok Ma Chau. This follows agreement on March 11 for a revised alignment avoiding wildlife reserves in Long Valley (RG 11.01 p736).