Daily Brief 10 June 2013

Daily newslog. Last update 14:30

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In brief: DFDS flash sale Dover-Dunkirk – A1 Bologna-Florence widening scheme – roadside blood tests Finland – French police expand mobile speed camera car scheme – tolls set for Danube 2 bridge

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TRAVEL/WEATHER:

Weather alerts – the highest level flood warning for the west Czech Republic is still in place with severe warnings for southern Germany and west Austria. For the latest on the flooding affecting central/east Europe see the EU’s Crisis Response page: ‘the situation is improving slowly but remains critical’. Thousands of people were evacuated from Magdeburg in eastern Germany yesterday; flooding is also affecting parts of central SwitzerlandWarsaw, PolandCroatia and Serbia.

Weather – heavy rain showers in central Italy also affecting Switzerland, Austria and Hungary. Cloudy but fine otherwise.

Crossing the Channelthe 16:30 MyFerryLink sailing from Calais has been delayed by an hour due to a technical problem. No operators currently reporting any delays.

@Port_of_Dover reported at 15:30: ‘Here in Dover sea conditions in the Channel are slight with a North Easterly breeze, force 3 and the visibility is good.’

@CF_travel_news, Condor Ferries’ twitter account, reports, ‘The current forecast indicates slight sea conditions, which will moderate towards the end of the week.’

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NOTES:

@Burger_Ferry reports that, ‘Mont Blanctunnel between #France and #Italy closes today from 22.00-06.00hrs due to maintenance work.’

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NEWS & PHOTOS:

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DFDS – a flash sale today and tomorrow by the Dover-Dunkirk operator sees drivers save 20% on all sailings until 18 December: a car and up to four passengers could pay as little as £28 each way. Valid for cars and motorbikes, Dover-Dunkirk only.

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EU – the Commission’s proposal to beef up the roadside inspection regime of commercial vehicles has been watered down after today’s meeting of the Transport Council: LCVs under 3.5t will not be included; it’s a directive not a regulation; no annual quotas/targets; cargo securing checks not compulsory; and seven years to introduce risk-based inspections. See the meeting’s minutes here. Simplified pet movement rules have also been approved.

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Finland – needlephobics look away now. Twenty of Finland’s 7,500 police officers are qualified to take blood from drivers suspected of drink/drugs offences. Under very specific circumstances, and only where the officer concerned has previously worked as a healthcare professional, drivers suspected to be under the influence can be asked to provide a blood sample by the roadside according to the TISPOL newsletter (see page 9). ‘I hope this piece of information is useful to other colleagues in Europe when considering how to intensify police efforts in the fight against drink driving on the roads of Europe,’ says the Finnish TISPOL rep. Question: how can they ensure hygiene?

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Major upgrade to A1 Bologna-Florence by 2014

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Italy – news on Friday that a new motorway was to open between Bologna and Florence in 2014 raised eyebrows because it’s not clear where it would go. The existing A1 ‘spinal motorway’ already runs direct for the 70 miles between the two, with the legendary Futa and Raticosa mountain passes running parallel to the east. The reports following the ‘Republic of Ideas’ event in Florence were it seems lost in translation. In fact an extra lane is planned for the A1 on this stretch and will indeed open in 2014. It does though represent a new phase in Italian motorway development titled ‘wider but not longer’. Giovanni Castellucci, CEO of concessionaire Autostrade per l’Italia (the largest in the country, and one of the biggest in Europe), was also keen to point out his company’s tolls were also the cheapest in Europe.

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France – In two months of operation new mobile police speed camera cars have caught 10,000 speeding motorists according to official figures. The new scheme is said to have already contributed to a fall of 27% in road deaths in March 2013 compared to the year previously, and 15.4% in April 2013. In addition to the 26 units already deployed, another 20 will be operational this month. By 2016, 300 units will be in action at a rate of 100 new ones per year. Keep up-to-date with coverage of the camera cars here. Tip: when driving on French motorways, if you see an unmarked Renault Megane driving precisely at the limit with two burly heffers in the front seat, slow down.

Paris Grand Palais, awe-inspiringly huge exhibition space, is remade as a temporary drive-in movie theatre this week though film go-ers will not be able to bring their own cars. The vast space alongside the Champs Elysee will house Fiat 500 convertibles for seats as well as a host of other Americana to help buffs get in the mood. Click for more.

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Bulgaria/Romania – tolls for the Danube 2 bridge, set to open on Friday, have been set at €6 each way for cars. Vehicles between 3.5-7.5t will be charged €12. Up to 12t the fee is €18. Triaxle trucks and buses over 23 seats pay €25 while four axle lorries pay the maximum €37.

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Navigation – Google has reportedly offered $1.3bn for the crowd sourced navigation/traffic app Waze, topping a $1bn offer from Facebook. The Israel-based company apparently has 47m subscribers worldwide, all updating maps and traffic conditions in real time.

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Touring with the family – Marking the 200th anniversary of the publication of the stories of the Brothers Grimm, Daily Telegraph writer Judith Woods takes her family on a magical journey along Germany’s Fairy Tale Route.

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