A door opened on a Sanyo West Hikari Shinkansen on August 18th. No technical fault had occurred and the train continued after a 10-minute emergency stop. (August 21st 1998)

Tanzania's rail services have resumed after an 8-month halt due to damage from heavy rains. (August 21st 1998)

Mammoth Australian HST

The 4500km high speed railway from Melbourne to Darwin in Australia edged closer materialization on August 11th. A Japanese infrastructure company, Obayashi, and the Macquarie Bank have joined the Australian Transport and Energy Corridor Pty Ltd consortium to build the inland rail link. The capital of the consortium now stands at AU$8.5 billion. Former Federal attorney-general Michael Lavarch and Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson have also been appointed to the consortium to advise it on legal and indigenous land rights issues. The consortium plans to use gas turbine locomotives to haul passenger trains at up to 300km/h and freight at 200km/h. They expect the first trains to run in 2004. Background article here. (August 13th 1998, reported by David Bromage)

A 4000 km long, 300km/h railway should be built in inland Australia, Melbourne and Darwin, the Australian federal government thinks. The Australian Transport and Energy Corridor Pty Ltd proposes a 300km/h inland line through Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland with connecting lines to Brisbane and Townsville. The line would be around 4000km long, being the biggest high speed project in the world. The trains would hauled by gas turbine locomotives rather than electric. Passenger trains would run at 300km/h and freight at 200km/h. A natural gas pipeline would follow the line for its entire length. / by David Bromage.

Despite its support for the high speed line, the Australian government will continue with the Alice Springs to Darwin railway. More here and here. (June 23rd 1998)

TranzRail, the New Zealand privatized railway, made a NZ$48.2 million profit in the year to June 30 1998; chairman Edward Burkhardt said the result was disappointing but understandable, given the slowing Asian economy. (August 10th 1998)

The Australian Prime Minister has announced that the TGV had been selected for the Sydney - Canberra high speed railway. It will be built and operated by Speedrail, a consortium of Leighton Holdings, Qantas, SNCF and BZW. Unsuccessful bids included the Adtranz X2000, Siemens ICE and Thyssen Transrapid maglev. The Fiat Pendolini and RSA Talgo dropped some months ago. (August 4th 1998, reported by David Bromage, more here)

Taiwan's Ministry of Transport formally signed the concession contract for construction of the 340 km Taipei - Kaohsiung high speed line on Thursday July 23rd. (July 29th 1998)

Harmon Industries has been awarded a contract for nearly $8 million with Mexico's Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana to provide equipment for a fully functioning Centralized Traffic Control system between Monterrey, Mexico and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. (July 23rd 1998)

Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are joining forces to begin building a railroad network to link Central America with Mexico. (July 23rd 1998)

GEC Alsthom has won an order worth 24 million ECU (£16 million) from Indian Railways for the supply and installation of 50 asynchronous ONIX traction units as part of a programme to renovate EMUs on Bombay’s suburban network. The order also includes a 2-year equipment guarantee. (July 23rd 1998)

Taiwan reaffirmed plans on Wednesday the 22nd to contract the Euro-Train engineering group for a US$13.4 billion high-speed train, clearing weeks of uncertainty over which technology -- European or Japanese -- was preferred. (July 23rd 1998)

A passenger train derailed on June 29th in Islington, New Zealand. Nobody was injured. A point switched itself while the train was crossing it. (June 30th 1998)

Western Australia is spending more than $40 million upgrading passenger rail services between Perth and Kalgoorlie. Speeds will be increased to 200 km/h. More about high speed trains in Australia. (June 23rd 1998)

A Japanese maintenance train derailed on the early morning of Tuesday the 9th. Nobody was hurt but nine Shinkansen HST trains were delayed. (June 15th 1998)

Indian Railway have ordered 50 asynchronous ONIX traction units from GEC Alsthom as part of a renovation of EMUs on Bombay’s suburban network. The order also includes a 2-year equipment guarantee and is worth 24 million ECU (£16 million). (June 15th 1998)

Indian Protesters opposing an increase in railway passenger fares squatted on the tracks and crippled rail services in India's eastern West Bengal state on Saturday. (June 21st 1998)

FT.comChina is to embark on an ambitious plan to reverse the structural decline of its vast but creaking railway network by slashing jobs, reducing losses and raising capital expenditure. (June 8th 1998)

JR East is carrying out emergency inspections of the wheels and axles of all its 1,100 Shinkansen trains following the deadly train crash in Germany. (June 6th 1998)

Taiwan is still interested in the Eurotrain concept for high speed trains, despite the crash in Germany on Wednesday. But,
"We definitely need a report from German Railways on the cause of the accident before talks begin later this year,'' says Taiwan High-Speed Rail Corp spokeswoman Corrinna Fu to Reuters. The Eurotrain consists of German ICE power units and French TGV coaches. (June 6th 1998)

Bullet holes were found in the wall of a Shinkansen toilet on May 20th. The train involved formed the Asama 501 service from Tokyo departing at 6:20 am, and arriving at Nagano at 8:01 am without incident. The bullet holes were subsequently discovered during a routine check by the maintenance crew at the Nagano Shinkansen depot. (June 2nd 1998)

A 50-km airport railway in Taiwan will be built and operated by a Taiwanese/Japanese consortium for US$1.5 billion. The railway will link Chiang Kai-shek airport with Taipei and the city's public transit system by 2003. (June 1st 1998)

Sabotage on the Shinkansen is suspected to be the work of leftist radicals who once belonged to railway workers' unions. Bolts were removed from a stretch of track near the central Japan town of Sekigahara last week, and anonymous letters threatened multi-derailments with the aim of killing more than 10,000 people. (May 12th 1998)

FT.comThe Silk Route from Europe to Central Asia is to be made more competitive through simplified tariff and customs arrangements. (May 12th 1998)

FT.comA "Panama railway" may be built in Nicaragua. Two rival groups want to build a railway connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific. It would be 375 or 450 km long and cost $1.6bn or $1.2bn. (May 12th 1998)

Construction of the New Delhi Mass Rapid Transportation System will probably be delayed as a result of frozen aid from Japan. The railway is planned to cover 80 km. Japan is upset with India for detonating atomic bombs lately. (May 14th 1998)

A rail tunnel under the Bosphorus strait in Turkey is the subject of a $762 million tender next month, says Minister Necdet Menzir. The tunnel, for passengers and freight, will form part of a 76 km (47 miles) rail link between the two sides of Istanbul, home of 10 million people. The minister said the project was attracting interest among foreign companies. (May 25th 1998)

Fepasa, a government-owned railway in Brazil, is to be privatized this summer. Fepasa was run by the state of Sao Paulo untill it was transferred to the federal government as part of a debt-restructuring deal. The Brazilian federal railway has already been privatized. Fepasa's website. (May 5th 1998)

Twenty-four people were killed in India on April 24th. Some cars of a goods train broke free and rolled back to collide with the stationary Manmad-Kacheguda Express at Parli Vaijnath station in Beed district of Maharashtra. (May 4th 1998)

JR East has started construction on three new Shinkansen lines, one for 200 km/h and two for 260 km/h. The 230 km of new lines will be ready in 20 years. (May 4th 1998)

Australian Transport Network will buy rail operations of the Australian mining company Pasminco, for AUD$7.8 million. ATN is 27% owned by Tranz Rail, which in turn is owned by Wisconsin Central which also owns British freight operator EWS. (April 11th 1998)

The Mexican Southeast railroad concession may be privatized to Mexican construction firm Empresas ICA. ICA already owns the Pacific-Northeast concession together with Union Pacific and a Mexican mining firm. Illinois Central leads a competing consortium to buy the railroad. (April 8th 1998)

Kazakhstan oil is taking the train as the pipeline doesn't have enough capacity. The oil is produced Tengizchevroil, which is 70% owned by the American oil companies Chevron and Mobil. (April 7th 1998)

A temporary ban on recruitments has been announced for the Indian Railways. Recruitment boards have allegedly been filled with friends of the previous railway minister. The recent rash of accidents has been noted in the Indian house of parliament, and also by foreign travel agents who discourage their customers from using the railways for safety reasons. (March 29th 1998, more here)

A number of light rail projects are being considered in Sydney to cut pollution and car traffic. (March 9th 1998, more here)

The Sydney-Canberra Very Fast Train project is down to four bidders. It is now likely that the preferred bidder will not be known until at least July, despite earlier hopes that it would be resolved by now. The four options range from tilt on existing tracks to TGVs at 300 km/h on dedicated tracks and a German Transrapid maglev. (March 22nd 1998, more here)

Adtranz has launched a new line of "modular" products. The line includes everything from peoplemovers for shorter distances, to high-speed trains and "plug'n'play" locos configurable for different gauges, electrical systems etc. The new line of modular products will for the time being be sold alongside the current products. Adtranz says it is using "know-how" from the car industry to lower costs by using standardized parts. For example, many cars are today built on the same chassis. Volvo and Mitsubishi share chassis, as do Saab and Opel. (March 21st, more here)

Commuter trains in Sydney, Australia, will be patrolled by two security guards per train. It is not yet known what the measure will cost, but people consider the trains are crime-ridden and the action is necessary, the Sydney Morning Herald writes. (March 21st, more here)

Israel is testing Adtranz tilting trains on the lines Tel Aviv - Jerusalem and Tel Aviv - Beersheba. The trains are thought to be able to cut travel time on the jrusalem line from 115 to 55 minutes. (March 15th 1998, more here)

State Rail Authority wants to raise fares by ten per cent in New South Wales, Australia. The Ministry of Transport says it will oppose any fare increases not broadly in line with inflation. (March 12th 1998, more here)

At least 50 people died after a train loaded with oil crashed with another train, derailed and caught fire in the African city Yaounde, capital of Cameroon. A cigaret is thought to have caused the explosion. The accident severed the city's main rail artery. It may take several days to clear the wreckage and debris. (February 16th 1998, more here)

A Shinkansen made an emergency stop in a tunnel following a false alarm. A cable had been damaged by snow. 5000 passengers were subsequently delayed 20 minutes. (February 13th 1998, more here)

Kansas City Southern will operate the Panama Canal Railway, for a 25-year concession. KCS will spend $70 million on an upgrade to run intermodal trains on the line by the year 2000. This will be as a complement to the ports and the canal. (February 2nd 1998, more here)

A 1500km line in Columbia is being taken over by an international consortium called Fepaz. Fepaz has won the 30-year Atlantic Line concession which has been awarded by Ferrovias, the Columbian authority in charge of rail concessions. Fepaz and Ferrovias optimistically predict that the privatization of the line will increase rail's share of land-based freight from 1% to 15%. The Atlantic Line links the nation's capital Bogot"5, with the Caribbean port of Santa Marta. In March, Ferrovias will receive offers for Pacific line concession which links the southern city of Cali to the Pacific port of Buenaventura, and has a total length of 449km. (February 2nd 1998, more here)

An X2000 EMU is on its way to China since Tuesday the 22nd. It will be tested for three months and then put in revenue service for at least two years, on the line Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hongkong. (January 22nd 1998, more here and here)

A Trans-Asia railway is closer than ever to becoming a reality. Stretching from Singapore to Scotland, it would incorporate track of five different guages. Interesting gaps to be filled in include the border between North and South Korea. The railway would have two main routes, one via Moscow and Korea, the other via Istanbul and Bangladesh. The railway would be primarily for freight transport. (January 16th 1998, more here)

South Korea wants to delay construction of and the purchase of trains for the high-speed line between Seoul and Pusan, due to the financial difficulties spreading across Asia. (January 16th 1998, more here)

Two trains collided in India on Monday, killing 49 people. The accident occurred in thick fog on Monday night about 90 km from Lucknow, the state capital of Uttar Pradesh. A Bareilly-Varanasi passenger train collided with the stationary Kashi Vishwanath express. Officials blamed human error. (January 8th 1998, more here)

The Israeli government is shelling out US$28.2 million into an upgrade of the Tel Aviv-Beer Sheva line. The one daily train on the line will be joined by 13 additional dailies by year's end. Tilt trains will complete the trip in 60 minutes, a half hour faster than current timings. The government also decided to enlist private money for the building of new lines and the upgrading of old ones. (January 8th 1998, more here)

The Japanese maglev has reached 503 km/h and engineers hope to reach 550 km/h by April. The record for trains on steel wheels is 515km/h, achieved in May 1989 in France. (December 8th 1997, more here)

Track was almost washed away 38 km from Madurai on the southern tip of India on a metre gauge railway on Sunday morning. Flash floods from rain and a broken irrigation tank caused the damage (photo), which was discovered by a patrol before any trains reached the site. Repairs will be deferred until the weather clears up. (November 12th 1997, more here)

A strike in Australia has intermittently stopped commuter trains. Workers are angry with a national reform which would affect their work. (November 7th 1997, more here)

Twelve people were killed on the Kinshasa - Matadi railway in Congo on Monday. Officials blamed a faulty signal; it is unclear if the line is equipped with automatic train control. (October 24th 1997, more here, thanx UF)

A bidder will be chosen by June 15th to build the Sydney - Canberra high speed rail link. Interested parties will have to pay a $100,000 fee by December 13 to show they are serious. Prime Minister Howard will use constitutional provisions to expropriate land along the route. (October 15th 1997, more here)

A Japanese maglev train broke a speed record on Friday with 451 km/h. The previous record was held by the German Transrapid magnetic levitation train with 450km/h. The maglevs still have some way to go to catch up with conventional railway technology: a French TGV attained 515km/h in May 1990. (October 5th 1997, more here)

British Stagecoach is bidding for the Australian state of Victoria's Public Transport Corporation. The PTC runs bus, tram, passenger train and freight train services. The government wants to privatize the PTC in six separate parts, but Stagecoach wants to buy the whole PTC in one lump. (October 2nd 1997, more here)

An accident in Manila in the Philippines took eight lives today, and over 200 people were injured. Two cars from a passenger train uncoupled and started rolling backward down a hill. They then collided with the next train, a commuter. Several houses by the railway were damaged. A car that becomes uncoupled from a train should normally stop automatically since the pressure in the braking tubes goes down. The brakes are thus on "by default". (September 22nd 1997, more here)

Russia is now a net exporter of grain after 50 years of being a net importer. A Russian banker says Russia used to buy 20 million tonnes each year from the US and Canada (transported to the coast by rail). However, not much Russian grain is expected to be sold, and Russia still imports higher-quality wheat for use in bread-making. President Boris Yeltsin credits the increase in Russian grain production to market reforms and wants farmers to have more rights to buy and sell land. (September 21st 1997, more here)

South Africa may buy Transrapid magnetic levitation trains from a German consortium. The track would go Pretoria -Johannesburg, 50 km. (September 21st 1997, more here)

Open access on all of Australia's tracks is in the works after a meeting between Australia's federal and state transport ministers. Though the tracks will still be owned by different public and private interests, a new authority will be set up to grant access to train operating companies. (September 15th 1997, more here)

At least 60 people died after a train crash in the province of Madhya Pradesh, India, on Sunday. Five cars from an express train fell off a bridge onto a river bed. (September 15th 1997, more here, and here)

GEC Alsthom is building 32 subway cars for Istanbul for 42 million ECUs (£28 million) in their Valenciennes factory in France. Another 62 cars will be built in Istanbul. GEC Alsthom is also renovating 378 cars for the Caracas subway. There are 40 GEC Alsthom subways in the world. (September 6th 1997, more here)

Two bids on Taiwanese high speed trains were made last week, one European and one Asian. The European one consists of GEC Alsthom and Siemens, builders of the French TGV and the German ICE, respectively. The two companies have a marketing alliance for orders outside Europe. The Asian consortium consists of among others Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Hitachi, and Kawasaki. (September 6th 1997, more here)

Australian National has been split in three and sold for a total of A$95,4 million. Freight railways South Australian Rail and Tasrail were sold to Genesee and Wyoming Inc. and the Wisconsin Central-owned Australian Transport Network, respectively. AN's passenger services, including the famous Indian Pacific, Ghan and Overlander trains, were sold to Great Southern Railway, a consortium of GB Railways and Serco Asia Pacific, both of Britain. GSR will extend the Indian Pacific to Melbourne and The Ghan to Sydney, as part of an A$14,3 million investment programme. (August 30th 1997, more here)

Nuts and bolts had been loosened on a signal, and on a turnout past the signal, at a station close to Morappur, India, on Friday morning. After passing the signal, which first had to have it's screws tightened, the Mangala Express at about 2 am started moving slowly to the other track on the apparently double-track railway. This was not "part of the plan". The driver therefore stopped the train and the turnout was discovered to also have loose nuts and bolts. The train was delayed by eight hours, and traffic returned to normal by 9 am. (August 26th 1997, more here)

Australian National will be sold this week, government sources say. AN runs the passenger trains The Ghan, The Indian-Pacific, The Overlander and freight services in Tasmania and South Australia, and maintenance workshops in SA. AN, itself a government creation, loses A$1 million per week, but its assets are valued at A$908 million. (August 1st 1997, more here)

Sydney's LRT opened last Monday with 10 stops over 3,6 km, and a tram every 12 minutes from 9 am to 5 pm. By September, service will run from 6 am to midnight, there will be 11 trams in operation and there will be a tram every five minutes during peak hours. 40 000 people have used the LRT in it's first six days. Each one carries 210 passengers, seated and standing. (August 18th 1997, more here and here)

GEC Alsthom is supplying signal systems for 20 km of a new Singapore driverless train track with 16 stations. (August 16th 1997, more here)

A corruption scandal is the label no-one is using to describe the fact that a consortium of Spanish Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles, Japanese Mitsubishi and Mexican ICA formally are disputing the grounds of their disqualification from the competitive tender for 252 subway cars for Mexico City. The only remaining consortium in the contest is made up of Canadian Bombardier and French GEC Alsthom. Spanish CAF has since 1992 built several batches built cars for Mexico City's subway. (August 12th 1997, source Financial Times)

A privatly financed high-speed railway is bein studied in Australia. It would connect Darwin och Melbourne -- 1410 km -- and several cities in between, the lobbying group The Australian Transport and Energy Corridor hopes. Accountancy firm KPMG will look at potential revenues. (August 12th 1997, source The Age)

Australian State Rail in New South Wales has financial problems and wants to lay off 1600 of 9400 workers. A representative for the Australian Services Union says 500 layoffs would mean that passengers have to make their own food and carry their own baggage onto the train. (August 12th 1997, source The Age)

Dagestan has restored rail links to Russia by building 78 km of new track around the unstable situation in Chechnya. The new track was built in 8 months. (August 12th 1997, source Russian Rail News)

Sao Paulo ordered railway equipment for US$70 million from Siemens, it's Austrian subsidiary SGP and Mitsui. The order includes 10 trains and 7 stations. This will increase passenger volumes from 50 thousand to 450 thousand a day, according STOL. (July 21st 1997)

The Russian Ministry of Railways may give reduced rates on contracts lasting over a year, the government has decided. But all who transport similar things similar distances must pay similar prices. (July 21st 1997)

An explosion on a Moscow - S:t Petersburg train on Friday took at least five lives. A bomb exploded in a toilet. Russian authorities said this was not a political act of terrorism. (June 30th 1997)

The Mexican Pacifico-Norte railway was privatized for 1,4 US$ billion last week, and the Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana consortium took controll of the railway. The consortium is made up of Transportacion Maritima Mexicana, Mexico's biggest transport company, and American Kansas City Southern Industries which also owns railways in Britain and New Zealand. The Mexican government still owns 44,5 % of the railway. TFM bid was 2,5 times higher as the next best bid. (June 30th 1997)

A new freight terminal in Nizhni Novgorod in Russia will be built at a cost of 1,2 billion rubles, funded by public and private interests. It will handle 20 million (metric?) tonnes per year. Nizhni Novgorod, 400 km east of Moscow, is known for swift market reforms to the old planned system. (June 27th 1997)

The Trans-Siberian Railway was without electricity close to the town of Tjita east of Lake Bajkal on Monday. Power plant employees cut the power in protest of the railway not paying it's bills, causing the power plant not to pay wages for a month. (June 11th 1997)

Skanska OY is building a new train station in Moscow for the new St Petersburg-Moscow high-speed railway. The contract, at 2 billion SEK, is financed with a Brittish export loan by Taylor Woodrow. Included in the project are a hotell, office complex, housing and parking. (May 17th 1997)

Five consortia want to build a high-speed line Sydney - Canberra, following the Australian federal government's call for registrations of interest on March 8th. The winning bid will operate the trains without subsidy, but tax breaks will be announced in the May budget. Bidders to build the 294km-line are the Transrapid (travel time 58 mins), Talgo Medina (tilt trains, 165 mins), Speedrail (TGV, 60 mins), Adtranz (tilt trains, 100 mins) and Inter Capital Express (ditto). (May 3rd 1997)

Construction is set to resume on the Almaty, Kazakhstan metro following a 6-year delay due to shortage of funds. Seven km have already been dug in the late 1980s. Consultancy work has recently been carried out by the Québec firm SNC-Lavalin. (May 3rd 1997)

Adtranz Sweden has won an Australian contract on motors and controll systems for commuter trains for Brisbane and Perth. The order is worth 150 million SEK and the first train will be delivered this year. (May 2nd 1997)

At least 100 people died when a train running Kunming-Zhengzhou (opposite Taiwan) collided with a stationary train in Rongjiawan on the Beijing-Guangzhou (-Hong Kong) railway. Thirteen cars in both trains derailed. The accident happened at 1048 local time, 0448 European time on Tuesday. (April 30th 1997)

The first 18 kms of a Japanese maglev track was officially opened on April 3rd by the Minister of Transport Makoto Koga and President of JR Central Yoshiyuki Kasai. The track, built for test purposes, will be 42 km long when finished. However, it may become part of a new line Tokyo-Osaka with a travelling time of one hour. The three-car test train has a camera in the front, but no conventional windows! The Japanese technology differs from the German in that the train accelerates to 200km/h om retractable rubber-tyred wheels before it levitates. (April 29th 1997)

A passenger train will run Vietnam - China in order to build cross-border business, according to the China Daily, quoted in the Swedish Dagens Nyheter. Four times a week the train will run the 550 kms between Ha Noi and Kunming, which lies in the mountains in southern China. (April 23rd 1997)

The Russian Railways will not be broken up or privatized, though they may be reorganized along federal-regional-local lines, First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov said in a speech last week. Subsidies will be phased out, though not for passenger traffic. The burden of financing commuter trains will gradually be shifted to local governments. Nemtsov urged use of the wholesale electricity market and competitive tendering to reduce costs and tariffs. (April 22nd 1997)

President Boris Yeltsin replaced Railways Minister Anatolii Zaitsev with Nikolai Aksenenko, Zaitsev's deputy, last week. The Ministry of Railways has been critisized by the government for keeping tariffs too high. January and February saw unpaid freight bills of 300 and 500 billion rubles respectively. (April 22nd 1997)

The high speed railway Moscow - St Petersburg is becoming reality. Despite a lack of funds, work has started on the north part of the alignment and tracklaying may start next year. The train Sokol (Falcon) will be tested later this year at 250km/h. The project is controversial and pits Prime Minister Chernomyrdin & c:o against the World Bank, the ministry of finance and the Duma committe on the environment. (March 27th 1997)

Russian RZD has ordered 21 six-axle locomotives from Adtranz in Switzerland. They will be rated at 7200 kW and reach 160km/h, weigh 132 tonnes and run in temperatures from -50 to +40 degrees centigrade. They will run primarily on the modernized Moscow-St Petersburg railway. (March 27th 1997)

The highest average speed for a train in regular service is now held by JRWest, which runs a train from Hiroshima to Kokura with an average speed of 262km/h, faster than the TGV Paris - St Pierre des Corps (253km/h). (March 26th 1997)