Britain: The Department for Transport (DfT) has extended Avanti West Coast’s contract for a further six months after significant improvements have been made since the operator was put on a short-term contract in October and ordered to develop a recovery plan aimed at addressing the poor performance of West Coast Main Line services, including between Manchester, Birmingham and London. This led to the introduction of a recovery timetable which has significantly reduced reliance on overtime working and has seen services increase from 180 trains per day to 264 on weekdays, resulting in significant improvements and enabling weekday ridership to rise to its highest level in over two years. Cancellations have also been reduced from nearly 25% of the entire service in August 2022 to 4.2% in early March. DfT says that 90% of trains are now arriving within 15 minutes of the booked time while more than 100 additional drivers been recruited.

Australia: Systra’s Australia and New Zealand subsidiary has acquired Bamser, an Australian-based infrastructure advisory firm with expertise in underground engineering. Bamser has an integrated team of project development, procurement, and delivery advisors, and has been involved in some of the largest infrastructure projects in Australia, including Sydney Metro, the Suburban Rail Link, and Cross River Rail.

Germany: German Rail (DB) has reportedly selected Goldman Sachs Group and Morgan Stanley to advise on the potential sale of its DB Schenker logistics unit, which could be valued at as much as €20bn. According to Bloomberg, DB is set to formally hire the two banks after a weeks-long pitching process that was one of the most hotly contested in Europe.

Australia: The Victorian state government has extended the contract with Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM), a joint venture between MTR (60%), John Holland Group (20%) and UGL Rail (20%), to operate Melbourne commuter services for a further 18 months. The extension will begin in November 2024 on similar terms to the existing contract. MTM operates 226 six-car trains on 998km of track, carrying 450,000 passengers a day.

Poland: PKP Cargo reported a Zlotys 148.4m ($US 34m) surplus in 2022, up by Zlotys 373.7m from the Zlotys 225.3m loss recorded in 2021. Revenue totalled Zlotys 5.39bn in 2022, up 26.3% on 2021. Consolidated Ebitda stood at Zlotys 1bn, up 107.8% year-on-year. PKP Cargo carried 100.6 million tonnes of freight in 2022.