Czech Republic: Infrastructure manager SŽ has awarded a contract for design work on the 80km Poříčany - Světla nad Sázavou section of the Prague - Brno high-speed line to a consortium of Sudop Praha, Egis Rail and Mott MacDonald. Their bid was selected in accordance with the best value method and project goals include reducing the impact on landscape as much as possible. The contractors must obtain planning permission in 2025 and construction should begin in 2027.

United States: President, Mr Joe Biden, and transportation secretary, Mr Pete Buttigieg, have announced that two rail projects will receive allocations from the $US 1.2bn National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega) grant programme. The Concrete Casing for Hudson Yards project - part of the new Hudson River Tunnel and Gateway Project to upgrade the North East Corridor between New Jersey and New York City - will receive $US 292m. In Chicago, $US 117m will support commuter operator Metra’s UP North Rebuild: Fullerton - Addison project. This involves replacing 11 bridges, 6.3km of trackbed and 2.8km of retaining walls.

Estonia: Rail Baltica Estonia has signed a contract with Ardanuy Ingeria for design work on regional stations to be built in Harju and Pärnu counties as part of the Rail Baltica project to build a standard gauge line between Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The scope includes designing platforms, overpasses and underpasses, outdoor areas, station car parks and access roads. Senior project manager, Mr Rauno Lee, said that standard solutions based on the design of the existing station at Raplamaa would be used but adapted to local conditions. He added work on stations was progressing along virtually the whole length of line through Estonia, except in Surju and Häädemeeste, and detailed plans had been initiated for nine regional stations on the Talinn - Pärnu section.

Britain: Network Rail has appointed VolkerFitzpatrick as main contractor for the project to reopen the Pill - Portishead branch as a commuter line. The £6.14m ($US 7.43m) contract covers the first phase of a scheme to reopen the line, which closed in 1964. The project is being funded by the government’s Restoring Your Railway fund, the Department for Transport, the West of England Combined Authority and North Somerset Council. Reopening the line will help to connect 50,000 residents to Bristol and the main line network. The project is part of the MetroWest programme to bring more frequent commuter services to the Bristol area, including opening new stations.

Mexico: Comsa has been awarded a contract to rehabilitate 14.9km of track on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec Railway (FIR) through Oaxaca state in the southwest of the country. The contract will be carried out in conjunction with Diamond Construction Group and covers a section of line that passes through an area of complex topography with very sharp curves that limit the speed of heavy freight trains. As well as comprehensive track renewals, the project involves rehabilitation of structures, stabilisation of embankments and drainage and installation of new trackside signage.

Indonesia: The government has approved an extension of the operating concession for the 142km Jakarta - Bandung high-speed rail project in Java from 50 to 80 years. This was requested by construction consortium PT KCIC in December 2022 after it revealed a $US 2bn budget overspend due to technical issues and unstable terrain impeding civil engineering work. Coordinating minister, Mr Luhut Pandjaitan, says that extending the concession will enable the project to be completed on time in June, as well as boosting the line’s socio-economic impact and strengthening relations between Indonesia and China.

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