• An 8·3 MW gas turbine locomotive which is currently undergoing trials was displayed at the opening of Russian Railways' Innovation Development Centre at Moscow's Riga station last month. The 300 tonne twin-section GTI-001 loco built by the Voronezh Locomotive Factory has a NK-361 turbine developed by the Samara research institute, and is expected to enter service in Siberia and the Urals.
  • Commuter rail authority Metra is seeking federal funding for a $441m project to boost capacity on the 71 km UP West corridor between Chicago and Elburn, including double-tracking, resignalling and junction remodelling. Engineering design is to be finished by 2009, and construction could take four years, enabling Metra to boost services from 62 to 80 trains/day.
  • Under a 15-year co-operation agreement, China Railway Signalling & Communications Corp has awarded a US$91m contract to Bombardier for supply of ETCS Level 2 train control equipment for the 980 km Wuhan - Guangzhou Passenger Dedicated Line, which is expected to open in January 2010 (RG 8.07 p481). Bombardier is to supply 120 sets of Interflo 450 on-board equipment for 60 trainsets and nine EBICom radio block centres.
  • Mauritanian Transport Minister Ahmed Ould Mohameden signed an agreement on August 3 with China's Transtech Engineering, Sudan's Danfodio Holding and local investors for construction of a 430 km railway linking phosphate deposits at Bofal with the capital Nouakchott at a cost of US$635m. Paralleling the border with Senegal, the line is expected to handle around 2 million tonnes of phosphate per year over 30 years. In the longer term, the government hopes it will be connected to the existing rail networks in Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso.
  • The agreement under which DB AG will take a majority stake in Spanish rail freight company Transfesa (RG 8.07 p463) was formally signed on July 26. DB Logistics expects the deal to strengthen rail freight's competitive position in southwest Europe, with a particular focus on automotive traffic in the short term.
  • On August 13 DB placed a contract worth over €1m for environmental studies for the planned 85 km Neubaustrecke linking Frankfurt and Mannheim. A contract for technical route studies for the 300 km/h alignment is to follow shortly so that formal planning procedures can start in 2008. Preliminary work is expected to start in 2010 and target date for opening is 2017.
  • Belarusian Railways Director-General Vladimir Zherelo announced on August 1 that the north-south main line connecting the Black Sea with the Baltic states would be electrified throughout by 2012. The 25 kV 50 Hz wires will be extended from Asipovicy to Babrujsk this year, with electrification of the route onwards to Zlobin and Hobel to follow in the near future. The first stage of BC's new network control centre is due to open in October, with the computerised facility to be fully operational by 2009.