n On December 20 Conrail’s board of directors voted to reject Norfolk Southern’s hostile all-cash bid for the business, after it had been raised to US$10·5bn to match CSX’s improved cash and stock offer of US$9·35bn. Conrail shareholders were due to vote on January 17 on a proposal to opt out of a Pennsylvania anti-takeover law and allow CSX to purchase a further 20% of the company’s shares for cash; CSX already owns 19·9% and intends to offer its own stock in exchange for the remaining 60·1%.n German chemicals company BASF has obtained a licence to operate freight trains over the DB network including carriage of merchandise for third parties.n Swiss Federal Railways’ tunnelling engineers have confirmed from test bores at Polmengo that the Piora strata formed of ’sugar dolomite’ extends to the depth of the planned Gotthard base tunnel. Special techniques will be needed to cut through the Piora rocks which are likely to contain high pressure water.n Myanma Railways is completing a major new station at Bagan, located at the end of an extension to the Kyaukpadaung branch which opened to passenger traffic in September. The site of important Buddhist relics, Bagan is generating increasing amounts of tourist traffic.n Under an agreement signed with trade unions in November and effective until April 1998, Netherlands Railways has secured more flexible working practices from drivers, conductors and station platform staff. With a 36h week in force and more frequent peak-hour services planned around Amsterdam, Den Haag, Rotterdam and Utrecht from September, NS is recruiting 150 extra conductors.n Britain’s Association of Train Operating Companies, Banestyrelsen of Denmark (p113), NSB BA and Jernbaneverket of Norway joined the Community of European Railways in January. British Rail will leave the organisation this year as its last operating functions are transferred to the private sector.n Completion of North Korea Railway’s 80 km electrified Wonsan – Kumgangsan route is expected to by the end of March. A new line from Wonsan to the resort of Mount Kumgang was completed in November after 11 months of work.n Since December 14 trams have been running between Karlsruhe city centre and Baden Baden using a new DM12·5m link from the Albtalbahnhof which joins the DB main line west of the main station. LRVs from Bretten to Karlsruhe Marktplatz now continue hourly to Baden Baden, replacing DB’s local services.n German Transport Minister Matthias Wissmann announced on December 19 that a finance agreement had been signed for the Nürnberg – Ingolstadt – München Neubaustrecke. This provides for DB to borrow funds from a private banking consortium; once the DM9bn line is complete, the government will redeem the debts and pay them off over 15 years. Target date for opening is 2003.
The amount of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico a week ago may be around 16,000 barrels, almost double from the initial estimates, according to the United States Coast Guard.The offshore oil and gas operator LLOG Exploration Offshore earlier informed that the oil released from a damaged pipeline at the Delta House floating production facility was estimated in the amount of some 7,950 to 9,350 barrels.The USCG and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) have been coordinating with the responsible party and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to locate and respond to any oil that reaches the surface.Multiple daily over flights and remotely operated underwater vehicle inspections have been conducted with no recoverable oil detected.Skimming vessels from Clean Gulf Associates and the Marine Spill Response Corporation also remain on standby.USCG informed that surface and subsea trajectory models calculated by the responsible party and NOAA indicate that any discharged oil will drift in a southwesterly direction and is not expected to impact the shoreline.Calculations indicate that the discovery of any recoverable oil is unlikely due to the depth and pressure at which the oil was released.The oil was discharged from a small crack in a pipeline that was pressurized to more than 3,000 psi and located some 5,000 feet under water, 40 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana. This high-pressure discharge through a small opening likely caused the oil to be broken down into small particles and disperse into deep-water currents prior to reaching the surface.Water samples taken along the trajectory path at various depths have not detected the presence of oil, USCG confirmed.“While the reported discharge amount is very significant, we are confident in the calculations completed by the LLOG and NOAA scientists,” said Cmdr. Heather Mattern from US Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Morgan City, Louisiana. “Additionally, the lack of any recoverable oil identified by over flights and subsea inspections conducted throughout the past week supports this explanation,” Mattern added.The flowline release began in the morning hours of October 11 from a fracture in a jumper pipe leading from Mississippi Canyon Block 209, Well No. 1 to a manifold located on the seafloor.Once identified, the pipeline leak was isolated and stopped on Thursday morning, however, the incident was said to be the largest oil spill in the US since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, Bloomberg earlier reported. The cause of the incident is under investigation.