INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1316 10 NOVEMBER 2018
BRANCH LINE NEWS
This newsletter covers the World outside the British Isles from information
supplied by members.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or of the Society.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS TEAM:-
International Editor (to whom all email and postal contributions should be sent):
Paul Griffin, 7 School Bell Mews, Church Lane, Stoneleigh, COVENTRY, CV8 3ZZ
Email: [email protected]
Deputy International Editor: Derek Woodward, 68 Church Street, Matlock, DERBY, DE4 3BY
This little narrow gauge steam locomotive and coach at Sofia main railway station may now be for display purposes only, but
they have proved surprisingly mobile in recent years. They used to be at the other end of the station concourse, near the
entrance, but with the reconstruction of the station were moved to the loco depot near the gatehouse for a couple of years
before returning to the station at the other end of the concourse near the platform entrance. Opinion is divided as to whether
the locomotive and coach can be considered plinthed, as the rails rest directly on the tiled floor rather than a purpose built base.
Note the sign top right pointing to ‘stub track’ 2 and 4. Bay platforms, of course. It doesn’t pay to trust google translate too
 Europe - Reservations available on the Interrail app
Many readers will be familiar with the off-line journey planner available on the Interrail app, but now a
new feature offers assistance with seat reservations in France and Italy. Helpfully, there is a facility to
specify that you don't want to travel on a high-speed train. There is also a facility to make reservations
on "International trains linking London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne", which is assumed to
cover Eurostar and Thalys. More information on this would be of great interest to members, so
comments from those who use the app would be welcomed. The French reservations do not include
international journeys unfortunately.
 Belgium - The Bruxelles Luxembourg area revisited
The new(ish) line between Bruxelles Schuman and Meiser is used by local services, but in absence of
network maps and timetables at stations our member can't be accurate as to what they are. The line is
also used by what are advertised as IC trains between Charleroi and Bruxelles Aeroport, though the
rolling stock on this service is somewhat suburban. He went to Bordet, because the IC trains are non-
stop to there from Bruxelles Schuman. With IC trains calling there, Bordet is presumably considered
by NMBS to be of some importance, but there is absolutely no passenger information on the
platforms. Many of the trains that call do not display their destination. How anyone understands
what is going on if the service is disrupted he does not know. There is one 'real time' train departure
screen at street level at one of the four entrances to the platforms, and paper train departure sheets
at street level otherwise. This is a marked contrast with what you would expect at a UK station.
Our member remembers Bruxelles Luxembourg as a pleasant station, with a fine old building and a
good bar. One would go there late afternoon to join one of the locomotive-hauled trains that stabled
there between the peaks, in order to do a 'rare curve' on a P service. Today it is a dungeon, with the
railway entirely decked over at the station and for some distance either side. However, part of the
station building remains, fronting the Place de Luxembourg. It is now an information and visitor centre
for the European Parliament.
What remains of the old Bruxelles Luxembourg station
Fortunately, there are other restaurant/bars around the Place de Luxembourg, which is a far more
pleasant place for an evening meal and beer or two than anywhere near Bruxelles Midi.
The English language part of an information plaque attached to the original station building.
A piece of stained glass from the old station, which is now displayed at platform level.
 Czech Republic – Velký Osek avoiding line proposals
Anyone who has travelled between Nymburk and Hradec Králové will have wondered why, at Velký
Osek, trains depart southwards and travel by an enormous loop line to regain their easterly course. Of
course it avoids a reversal, but surely there must be a better way than a detour of several kilometres?
Courtesy of europeanrailwaymaps.com
Czech infrastructure company SŽDC obviously agree because they have presented for the first time
detailed plans to build a Velký Osek avoiding line. Three options have been submitted for
consideration with an environmental impact assessment the first step. They are, in fact, part of
proposals to speed up the Podĕbrady to Kolin line from 120 to 160km/h. Whichever option is selected
the loop line will close, shortening journey length by 4.5km.
 Czech Republic – New flyover will make bypassing Přerov easier
Plans for the reconstruction of the line avoiding Přerov (Olomouc to Hranice na Moravé) can be found
at this link: www.szdc.cz/soubory/konference-a-seminare/zdc-2016/f16-vavra-mco.pdf.
Includes a new flyover east of Rokytnice.
 France – Nîmes avoiding line travelled
On 6 October a member took advantage of a €21 1st class PREMS (advance booking) ticket to travel to
Toulouse via this new (opened with the summer timetable in June) and, a first in France, mixed-traffic
LGV. It was interesting to be travelling in 40+ year-old still quite comfortable Corail loco-hauled stock
which will certainly be retired within the next couple of years. The new line is announced by SNCF as
60 kms + 20 kms of connections with existing lines. If it were not for the one station of Montpellier Sud
de France, the line could be in PSUL as only a handful (two Marseille – Bordeaux ICs, a Paris – Béziers
TGV and 1 or 2 low-cost OUIGO’s) of passenger trains travelling west from Nîmes and v.v use the new
line, which sees mostly freight for the moment, pending the opening of the new station on the LGV
serving Nîmes. This is announced for December 2019 but is still the subject of debate. His train, the
moderately well-filled 08:16 from Marseille slowed to a walking pace near what looked like the site of
the new Nîmes station. There was no sign of any building work there, just 2 rusty un-electrified tracks
which may have been left over from the construction phase. He wondered whether the slowing of his
train might have been to allow for a future station stop, but arrival and departure from Montpellier
Sud de France were 5 minutes late. As far as he could see from the front of the train, very few
passengers alighted, hardly surprising as the preceding AVE for Madrid had served Montpellier St
Roch, 5 minutes’ walk from the centre and served by several tram lines, just 10 minutes earlier (via the
not so frequently used south curve of the Avignon LGV triangle). Loading was much healthier – not
much choice at that time of the day for Toulouse and Bordeaux. Arrival at Toulouse was on time. With
the opening of Montpellier Sud de France, there is limited public transport access by a couple of
diverted bus routes but at least there is a raison d’être for the suffix St Roch of the original town
centre station which had managed for a century and half with plain “Montpellier”. It was the long-
serving mayor of the time, George Frêche who, around 2000 started referring to St. Roch until SNCF
officialised the name. Supposedly it was a foresighted change with the LGV station in mind, but many
including our member thought it was just to give Montpellier big-city status like Marseille (St. Charles)
and Bordeaux (St. Jean).
 France/Switzerland - CEVA connected
CEVA (Cornavin - Eaux-Vives - Annemasse) is a project to create a new double track rail link between
the central station at Genève-Cornavin and Annemasse in France. The link is 16 km in length (mostly
underground) of which 2 km are in France. There are 5 new stations in the suburbs of Genève. The
main purpose is to relieve road traffic congestion by providing an alternative transport system for the
60,000 "frontaliers" who cross the Franco-Swiss border, daily. The new international suburban rail
network (RER) is named Léman Express. It will open in December 2019. For the first time, trains will
link Evian, Annecy and Annemasse (France) with Genève-Cornavin. On 21 September, a significant
final step in the CEVA project was completed with the physical connection of the Swiss and French
tracks. The welding of the rails allows the Léman Express trains to begin test running along the new
International RER network. Courtesy of the French Railway Society
 Germany - Conversion of line 3015 to cycle path starts
Line 3015 ran from Koblenz to Ochtendung (Mayen). Until 2000 it was used for traffic from a quarry,
but was officially decommissioned on 15 September 2003. In August 2018, the official groundbreaking
ceremony for the construction of the cycle path took place.
 Germany - Line 6940 decommissioning starts
Line 6940 ran from Ganzlin - Stuer (-Röbel (Müritz)). The Regio Infra Nord-Ost GmbH & Co. KG (RIN)
own the remaining section from Ganzlin to Röbel (Müritz) between the Bahnhof Ganzlin and km 6.8
(near the former Hp Stuer). Attempts to sell the line have been unsuccessful and decommissioning
started on 1 October 2018. Bahnhof Ganzlin will continue to be offered as a loading point – it has an
approx. 110 m long paved loading track.
 Netherlands - “Dutch Flyer” and the Rotterdam Hoekselijn
One BLS member heading for Dutch and Austrian rare freight line diversions left (and returned to) the
UK using Stena Line’s Rail and Sail “Dutch Flyer”, allowing a journey from any Greater Anglia station
(Cambridge in his case) to any Dutch station via the Harwich - Hoek van Holland ferry. He booked his
outward leg only six days before travelling, in mid-August, and the return fare was £220, including a
cabin both ways (compulsory on the night sailings) – much cheaper than Eurostar by that time,
especially as a hotel would also have been needed to fit his travel plans. “Dutch Flyer” can be booked
as single or return, but if starting in the Netherlands needs to be booked via the Dutch language
version of the website. Booking further in advance would have made it cheaper – and, as a result, the
return leg was priced at slightly less than the outward. When booking on-line the confirmatory e-mail
is your rail ticket for Greater Anglia, and you collect your Dutch rail tickets when checking in at Harwich
(after passing through security and UK passport control). These are chip tickets marked “Combi-Ticket
NS-RET”, valid on “All busses [sic], trams and metro operated by RET” (the Rotterdam public transport
company) and “All trains operated by NS”. It then says a supplement is required for travel on InterCity
Direct (ICD) and ICE trains, and that they’re not valid on Thalys. They were preprinted as valid until the
end of the year, presumably their first use giving them their single date of validity. Your correspondent
wondered whether they could actually be used as day rovers.
The boat train from Cambridge (a three-car class 170 DMU) connects well with the 23:00 sailing (22:15
last check-in), and the ferry on this occasion (a Sunday night) set sail fifteen minutes early with lots of
lorry space unoccupied. Arrival is supposed to be at 08.00, but it was about 08.15 before foot
passengers could disembark. Since the closure of the Rotterdam - Hoek van Holland rail line for
conversion to light rail operation (the last NS trains ran on Friday 31st March 2017 – see BLNI
1279.148), trains have been replaced by a series of bus routes numbered 71x to and from Schiedam
Centrum, where there is interchange with NS as well as the Rotterdam Metro lines C, D and E. Route
711 runs non-stop and is supposed to take 30 minutes (it took 25 inbound at the end of the morning
peak) while route 713 calls at all stations and takes 45 minutes. They run every 15 minutes during the
peaks, every 20 minutes off-peak, and every 30 minutes in the evening.
The first phase of the conversion from heavy to light rail was reported as being complete towards the
end of 2017 (when reopening was originally scheduled), and testing has been underway for several
months. A metro train (three-section units 5624 and 5625) was noted parked up near Hoek van
Holland Haven station, clearly visible as foot passengers left the ship. The units used on lines C, D and
E (formerly the Calandlijn) are dual system, most of the line having underside-contact third rail but the
eastern end branches, which have street running of sorts, using overhead wires; the Hoekselijn also
uses overhead wires. At present the line terminates at Haven, with the platforms being in the area
formerly occupied by the bay platforms used by the boat trains which once ran across Europe – right
beside the entrance to the ferry terminal. There are two platform faces, both on the harbour side of
the track and staggered like the London Overground platforms at Clapham Junction. The station
looked almost complete at first (although with lots of temporary fencing in place, some platform edge
work still remaining, and a few fresh weeds growing!), and even the PIS screen was showing the
destination of the next three arrivals (surprisingly Line B to Hoek van Holland Strand as well as Hoek
van Holland Haven, but not any towards central Rotterdam). Notices suggested a December 2018
opening but without giving an actual date, but on 29 August (the day after the writer arrived back in
the UK) it was announced that it was likely that opening would be postponed again, because there
would not be enough time to process the paperwork after the final version of the safety software was
delivered in early November. The track plan for the line appears on the www.sporenplan.nl website,
which also shows the single-track freight connection from NS and the sidings at Vlaardingen.
Of course, the line used to continue to Hoek van Holland Strand, and latterly all trains used the
through platforms at Haven, which curved away from the terminal building. These platforms have
been demolished, and track lifted and all other structures removed. It’s still possible to see where the
line went, but in two places footpaths cross the formation (one to reach a new car park, which is not
yet open) and have been properly paved. However, track and OHL structures remain in place from the
level crossing immediately to the west (including across the road), although the wires have been
removed. The metro line will be extended to Strand (a previous BLNI report said it would end slightly
beyond the old terminus), and this extension is shown on official Rotterdam Metro maps. The final
track layout (including this extension) also appears on the map on the Gleisplanweb.de website
(www.gleisplanweb.eu/Map-e.php?Map=Rotterdam), which indicates that the present station at
Haven is only temporary, with new through platforms being built where the old ones were and the line
to Strand opening in 2020.
The temporary platforms at Hoek van Holland Haven beside the original station building and current ferry terminal, viewed from
the footpath to the new car park. The former through platforms were just to the left of the photographer. The Stena Hollandica
is just visible in the background.
Similar view, from behind the buffers stops. Note the kilometre post; the “zero” for this line (actually 500.0km) is at Schiedam
Looking towards Hoek van Holland Strand from the footpath across the trackbed immediately west of the former through
platforms at Haven.
Viewed from the pedestrian ramp onto the ferry, RET metro units 5624 and 5625 are seen parked up on one of the running lines
at Hoek van Holland Haven. There are two stabling sidings here, one of which is a loop. The lorries on the right are queuing to
drive onto the ferry.
 Poland – From Stalowa Wola Rozwadów to Hrubieszów
It is possible to reach Hrubieszów without arriving very late at night on the inward service. Using the
link in EGTRE for bus timetables, it was established that there was what appeared to be a direct bus
service leaving Rzeszów at 14:15. It actually departed at 14:20 (it’s the only service of the day) and left
from the minibus terminal at Sokola, about a 10-minute walk from the station. Although a timetable
poster at the bus station showed it going through to Hrubieszów, the bus itself, a rather ancient 12
seater, showed Zamość as the destination. Anyway, the driver assured your reporter that it was the
right service, so he paid the 30 złoty fare (around £6) and settled in for the long journey, The bus was
never more than half full, and eventually arrived at Zamość minibus station at around 17:00. He was
then told that he would have to change onto an adjacent bus, a 20 seater which, when it left a few
minutes later, was full and standing. This cost another 11 złoty. Your reporter had shown the driver the
address of the hotel where he was staying and, when the bus arrived at Hrubieszów minibus station,
the driver indicated for him to stay on and very kindly dropped him off right outside his hotel at
around 18:15, thus saving a lengthy walk. Being so far east in the time zone, an 05:50 departure the
following morning from the very basic station (a platform and a small shelter) was in full daylight even
in mid-August. Your reporter was surprised to see a Czech loco (which also bore a PKP Inter City vinyl)
on the front of two modern air conditioned coaches, one of which was first class on this second class
only service (unfortunately his seat was in the second class one). A good number of passengers joined
at the start, including four others in his compartment, and it was pretty full by the time he alighted at
the end of the rare part of the route at Stalowa Wola Rozwadów. The line parallels a broad-gauge
route for most of way and a freight service was passed during the journey.
route for most of way and a freight service was passed during the journey.
Czech diesel locomotive on the train at Hrubieszów Miasto
 Romania - Romanian Narrow Gauge update. 2. Northern Romania
Courtesy of europeanrailwaymap.com
In the north of the country, close to the Ukraine border, is the Vaser Valley Railway which runs 40.3
kilometres from Vișeu de Sus to Comanu. The upper valley is very wild and heavily wooded so the
railway represents the only way to get timber out, and this was the reason the railway was built.
Tourist trains run from April to October in the lower valley and this operation is doing well, carrying
over 100,000 tourists in recent years with steam trains the major attraction. Vișeu de Sus CFF is the
start of the line and was once the trans-shipment point onto the standard gauge railway which ran
from Borșa to Vișeu de Jos. This is now abandoned and overgrown, at least on the Borșa to Vișeu de
Sus section, confirmed by personal observation at several points. Vișeu de Sus to Vișeu de Jos was not
observed. Vișeu de Sus CFF is the main base of the railway with workshops and sidings as well as some
rather basic platforms. After 9.6km is Novǎț Delta, where a triangle gave access to the once extensive
system in the Novǎț valley. The triangle remains, but beyond this track has been lifted for at least a
kilometre. At 18.4 km is Paltin, which is the limit of tourist train operation and is equipped with a large
covered dining area and stalls which sell food and drink when the tourist trains arrive in the late
morning. The loop beyond the station is used for stabling stock as up to three tourist trains arrive on
peak days, and shunting is necessary if anything needs to go past in this period. Beyond here the line is
devoted to timber transport and the limit of operation is now Valea Babei at km 35. Before the station
a 3 km branch goes north east to Stevioara, while track continues past Valea Babei to Comanu, at km
40.3. On both these sections only light rail vehicles are now used due to condition of track, with motor
draisines propelling bogie wagons up the lines, and gravity being used to return them to Valea Babei.
The tracks beyond Comanu to Izvorul Boului at km 43.1 are no longer maintained and too unsafe to
use. The PTG charter got to about 600 metres past Valea Babei to witness a logging demonstration,
with horses used to transport the logs for loading onto bogie wagons – a fascinating process.
The Moldovița Mocăniță (Mocăniță means narrow gauge railway) is three hours coach journey to the
east of Vișeu de Sus. A standard gauge branch ran from Vama (on the electrified line between Suceava
and Cluj Napoca) north to Moldovița, but services were withdrawn on 28 June 2010 due to flood
damage and the line is now abandoned and overgrown.
The 760 mm gauge narrow gauge railway ran north from Moldoviţa up the Roşoşa valley, the network
reaching a maximum length of 73km in 1987. Flood damage closed the line in 2001 and timber was
transported by road thereafter. Georg Hocevar, the Austrian owner of the CFI (Calea Ferata Ingusta)
railway workshop in Brad stepped in and 3.6 kilometres were renovated in 2005. By autumn 2009 this
had increased to 6.3km and in autumn 2011, 10.5km. Museum trains have operated since summer
2009. A northern extension to Argel-Zigreva opened in late 2013 and in November 2017, a southern
extension to the former CFR railway station at Moldoviţa. The route length has grown to 12.7
kilometres according to Wikipedia.
The PTG charter started inside the depot, which is on a short branch 570 metres north of the old CFR
station and the roadside running starts immediately, though there is a short section in the northern
outskirts of the town where the tracks run by the back gardens of properties, almost close enough to
see what they are having for lunch. The pleasant run up the valley goes by a loop near the mid-point
and through a number of halts, if a name board by the tracks can be considered to be a halt. With a
charter and a service train in operation, the loop was used to allow the service train to overtake the
charter while the PTG passengers were having lunch.
The end of the line is Argel-Zigreva where there is a covered picnic area and a large area of stalls and
wooden cafes. A loop beyond the ‘station’ was used to run the steam locomotive (764-404), round.
The service train having departed earlier, the place was almost deserted, but a full trainload of people
is good business for railways and locals, and it seems the museum operation is doing well. The PTG
charter returned to the former CFR station at Moldovița on recently laid NG tracks which were laid ON
TOP of the former SG tracks. Not exactly dual gauge although both gauges are present! Moldovița
station has been restored and is in good condition.
 Serbia/Macedonia/Greece – Observations from the PTG Balkans Tour (1)
In Serbia the tour passed through Niš Ranžirna yard twice whilst covering all non-passenger curves
around Niš. The yard is extensive, but it was obvious that only the tracks on the western side of the
layout, adjacent to the station building, were in use. As previously reported, there was no evidence
that passengers were allowed, as in earlier years, to use the Niš circular staff trains.
The MZ system map shows a branch off the Bitola line from Bakarno Gumno to Sopotnica. The triangle
at the Bakarno Gumno end of this was completely overgrown and the branch obviously OOU. Further
south, at Bitola, work is reported to be progressing to reopen the line to Kremenica and over the
border to Néos Káfkasos in Greece. From here the line continues to Mesonision where it joins the
Florina to Thessaloniki railway. It was rebuilt some years ago, then mothballed.
The Veles to Kočani branch was also visited and found to be a slow journey, especially the last 15km.
No evidence of any freight activity was evident and the one train to Kočani (returns the following
morning) had only ten people on it when observed at Veles. With only one significant intermediate
population centre, the survival of this line is quite surprising.
South of Veles the line to Greece was completely closed due to a structural problem with a pier of the
bridge over the small river west of Stobi. This was discovered only two days before the PTG Tour was
due to cross it, and required some very smart organisation to arrange to transfer by coach from Veles
to an MZ train waiting on the other side of the bridge at Kukuričani. Latest information received was
that the bridge would need complete replacement, so the line will be shut for some time.
Moving on to Greece, the new cut-off under (very slow) construction south of Idomeni is still not
completed, though the situation at the southern end (noted on a previous tour as not having been
started) could not be ascertained as it was dark.
The river bridge between Gefyra and Thessaloniki has not been repaired yet and the guard informed
our correspondent that only freight was allowed over it at 10 km/h. This meant the PTG tour had to
use the 4km Thessaloniki avoiding line from Gefyra to Axios and reverse in order to get to Thessaloniki.
Outside Thessaloniki station the works for the Thessaloniki metro are still present behind high fences.
Phase 1 of this long delayed scheme (started in 2006) may be opened in 2020 if a large sign above the
fence is to be believed.
No locomotives were stabled at Strimon, where the Thessaloniki to Sofia line diverges from the
Thessaloniki to Alexandroupolis line, so the triangle used for turning locomotives was OOU. At
Alexandroupolis the new docks line previously mentioned in BLNI has been constructed and was shiny,
suggesting it is in use. It is 0.7km long.
A previous PTG tour in Northern Greece had observed deviations under construction on the line from
Alexandroupolis to Pythion at Levara, and these are now in use, apparently for one or two years
according to one source, vagueness on these matters being an irritating Greek national characteristic.
The line has moved to the other side of a new road, across which glimpses of signals and the old
station at Levara could be observed. The Levara deviation is 3.6km long and up to 150 metres away
from the original alignment, now severed at both ends by the new road. There is another deviation
2.4km long a little further north.
 Turkey (European and Asiatic) - Suspended services returning soon
News from Railturkey (plus data from EGTRE) that a number of conventional trains which had been
suspended owing to engineering work are being reinstated. Some trains were suspended owing to
engineering works on the Baskentray (Ankara enhancement) project.
The Izmir Mavi has been running only between Eskisehir and Izmir. The train is expected to start
running from Ankara from mid-November. The following trains are expected to start running from
mid-December; the Cukurova Express (Ankara - Adana) was suspended from 23 June 2016, the 4 Eylul
Mavi (Ankara - Malatya) was suspended from 11 June 2016 and the Goller Express (Izmir - Isparta)
(possibly a new service).
The second phase of the Marmaray project is expected to be commissioned in January after which
Istanbul Haydarpasa will start hosting trains after being closed since 19 June 2013. These will include:
Istanbul - Ankara high speed trains, Istanbul - Konya high speed trains and the Ada Express (Istanbul -
Adapazari). As Marmaray is commissioned, some high speed trains are expected to use it cross the
Bosphorus and reach Halkali. At some point the Sofia Express is expected to start using its former
terminus of Sirkeci again. Finally, (Sivas -) Kalin - Samsun is expected to reopen in first quarter of 2019,
after being closed in April 2015 "for 2 years".
REST OF THE WORLD
 Argentina - Branch reopening after 30 years
Renovation work on 120 kilometres of track from Rosario de la Frontera, in Salta, through Tucumán, to
Gobierno Garmendia has now started, and the most recent addition to the project is branch C8, closed
for 30 years, which links the towns of Rosario de la Frontera, in Salta, with Gobierno Garmendia, south
of the capital of Tucumán. Completion is expected by the third quarter of 2020.
The works are part of a recovery plan for 1800 kilometres of Belgrano Cargas tracks, which connect the
north of Argentina with the ports of the Province of Santa Fe. At present more than 580 km have been
renewed, more than 530 km are under construction and 80 km are due to be awarded. The whole
project is geared to speeding up the transport of freight.
 Canada – Freight line in Toronto in use until early December
The Canpa subdivision connects the Lakeshore West line with the Toronto Union to Milton line,
allowing Mimico and Exhibition stations to be bypassed. The map at:
https://www.proximityissues.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Toronto_rail_map.pdf makes this
clear. Engineering work on the following weekends will result in some services being diverted via the
Canpa subdivision. Those remaining are November 24/25 and December 1&2 For details of VIA trains
affected go to https://www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/media-room/travel-advisories
 Mauretania – Passenger carriages sold to Mauretania
Three former Czech Railways (ČD) passenger carriages have been delivered to Mauretania. According
to Cargovák magazine, they will be used in mixed trains on the only railway line in the country. This
connects the iron ore mines in the Zouérat region with Nouadhibou port by a single track line 704 km
long. The magazine goes on to say that ‘probably three Slovak sleeping cars were sold to Mauritania as
 Myanmar – Feasibility study for new rail link
China and Myanmar have signed a memorandum of understanding to conduct a feasibility study for a
railway linking Muse, a border town in Myanmar's northeastern Shan state, with Mandalay, the
country's second largest city in the north. It should be complete within two years.
 New Zealand - Wellington railway network gets improvement package
A package of improvements to the Wellington regional rail network was announced by the New
Zealand Transport Minister on 9 October. The bulk of the money will be spent on a ‘significant
upgrade’ of the 80 km Wairarapa Line, which runs northeast from Wellington to Masterton. The
present condition of the route has been described as ‘simply unacceptable’. NZ$50m has been
allocated for track and bridge renewals, while NZ$46.2m will be spent on enhancements to the
suburban section south of the Rimutaka Hill tunnel. Double-tracking between Trentham and Upper
Hutt will improve operational flexibility, allowing more freight to move by rail as well as
accommodating growing suburban ridership.
The package also includes infrastructure renewals on parts of the Kapiti and Johnsonville lines,
including work to stabilise higher-risk cutting and embankment slopes to reduce the risk of landslips.
Peak-hour ridership on Wellington suburban services has increased by 13% in the past three years,
prompting a four-year project to replace the ageing 1.5 kV DC overhead electrification equipment on
the Hutt Line, which is the southernmost part of the Wairapa Line.