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April 2006 in rail transport: Map


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April 1

April 1
* - The new Greater Western and Thameslink train operating franchises commence, both operated by First Group.
* - The Londonmarker passenger rail services of Great Northern and Thameslink are merged under First Capital Connect in a new franchise that will continue for six years. The new franchisee plans to overhaul the trains with new liveries and on-board services as well as an £8 million program of upgrades for several major stations.

April 2 - April 8

April 3
* - Transit workers in Denver, Coloradomarker, including bus drivers, mechanics and light rail workers, wage a strike action citing vacation time and wages as key points of the dispute. Although bus service is reduced to 45% of normal traffic, rail service is completely shut down. In negotiations with Denver's Regional Transportation District (RTD) on April 2, the union rejected the RTD's latest contract offer, which RTD says included the largest wage increase in its history, and separately voted to begin the strike.
April 7
* - Officials with BNSF Railway announce that the railway will become the first United Statesmarker railroad to open an office in Chinamarker when its office in Shanghai opens later in April. Both Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway, which both maintain track and operate in the US, already maintain offices in China, but this will be the first office for a US-headquartered railway. The office is hoped to help BNSF with logistics planning for containerized shipments between the US and Asia.

April 9 - April 15

April 9
* - China's Train number T70, en route from Urumqimarker to Beijing west railway stationmarker, encountered a serious dust storm in Xinjiang, shattering most windows on the left side of the train and causing a nearly 33-hour delay arriving at its final destination.
April 10
* - Kenyanmarker officials announce that despite a court case to prevent the change of control, the South African led Rift Valley Railways Consortium will assume control of the Kenya-Uganda Railway in July 2006. The concession, initially agreed upon in 2005, is opposed and still disputed in court by former and current railway employees as well as Uganda's railway union citing disputes over pay and benefits.
April 11
* - Hong Kongmarker's Executive Council formally approves the merger of Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR) and Mass Transit Railway (MTR). Officials close to the negotiations estimate a passenger fare reduction for as many as 2.8 million riders on the first day that the merger is effective. The proposal includes a formula for future fare adjustments. The resulting company will use the MTR name and identity; it will be responsible for the daily operation of both KCR and MTR systems. Although up to 700 layoffs are predicted due to job duplication, officials estimate that the combined company could be looking to hire 1,300 more employees within a few years.

April 12
* - One of the largest rail infrastructure programs in Queenslandmarker history has been let to the Thiess United Group joint venture called the SEQIP Rail Alliance. Four major rail infrastructure projects will be built over the next six years worth $AU665 million. Queensland Rail chose the successful partner and will oversee delivery of the projects. The Transport Minister says around $6 billion is allocated for rail infrastructure projects in south-east Queensland under the South East Queensland Infrastructure Plan and Program announced in April 2005, which are needed to cater for the population boom over the next decade. The SEQIP RAIL Alliance will deliver four major projects: Caboolturemarker to Beerburrum duplication ($240 million), Robina to Reedy Creek extension ($75 million), Corindamarker to Darra third track ($110 million), and Beerburrum to Landsborough duplication and straightening ($240 million).
* - JR East announces that it will begin testing of fuel cell powered trains in July 2006. This would mark the first railway use of fuel cells in the world. The railway hopes that such trains will help to reduce emissions and remove the need for overhead lines, which would in turn help to make the area where the railway's rights-of-way are located more attractive.
April 14
* - Officials in Venezuelamarker award contracts worth an estimated $2.2 billion to build two new railway lines to a consortium of Italianmarker construction companies. Construction on the two new lines connecting San Juan de los Morrosmarker to San Fernando de Apuremarker and connecting Chaguaramas to Cabrutamarker is expected to begin in Q2 2006 and is expected to take a little over six years to complete. Gauge unknown.

April 16 - April 22

April 19
* - Investigators in Francemarker announce that a homemade bomb was discovered on the Nantesmarker-Parismarker railway line used by TGV trains. The device, which consisted of a nitrate-filled plastic tube connected to a battery-powered timer, could have been placed on the tracks any time in the ten days before an SNCF track inspector discovered it near Saint-Sylvain-d'Anjoumarker during a regular inspection of the line. French police state that there have not been any threats made against the railway recently and no organization has stepped forward to claim responsibility for the device.
* - Polskie Koleje Państwowe (PKP), the national rail carrier of Polandmarker, signs a contract to rehabilitate a section of the Łódźmarker-Warsawmarker line with a consortium of companies led by Trakcja Polska. The contract, valued at PLN450 million (116.4 million), is the largest modernization contract for PKP to date. The project is expected to take just over two years to complete from the start of construction.
April 20
* - Botswanamarker President Festus Mogae announces that talks have begun between Botswana and Namibiamarker to establish a joint rail link. Government officials of both countries hope that such a connection would help to increase trade between them and the rest of Africa. President Mogae mentioned in his announcement that coal could become one commodity that would be well accommodated by such a rail connection.

April 23 - April 29

April 23
* - Officials with the governments of Tanzania and Zambiamarker open meetings to discuss the privatization of the Tanzania Zambia Railway (Tazara). Declining revenues and increased maintenance needs are highlighted as reasons for privatization efforts. While the method of privatization is yet to be determined, officials have stated that Chinesemarker interests may be given priority due to their previous involvements in local railway investments dating to the 1970s. A meeting between the three governments on this topic is expected to take place in June 2006.
April 25

* - Officials with the governments of Spainmarker and the Basque autonomous regionmarker sign an agreement outlining the proposed Basque Y railway service. The service would provide passenger and freight rail transport between the three Basque provincial capitals of Vitoriamarker, Bilbaomarker and Donostiamarker and connections to the high-speed Madridmarker-Vitoria-Parismarker rail corridor. The agreement puts the section between Vitoria and Bilbao under Spanish control, and the section in Gipuzkoamarker province under Basque control.

April 30


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