Daily Brief 24 June 2013

Latest update 19:15

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Red alert for rain Czech Republic.

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Newslines: Autobahn random shooter detained – France ‘boites noires’ – DFDS Harwich-Esbjerg suspended – Deadly bus crash Montenegro – Wolf wee in crash cut bid – Bridge theft Russia – Poland roads opportunities – EU raps UK, France, Belgium, Portugal and Romania – Kazak in-car smoking ban plan – New border point cuts Georgia transit time – Kravice Falls & Medjugorje in easier reach – Capljina-Neum direct – Russian truck toll protest – Luggage crash horror – Bulgaria E79 road block threat – Danube 2 ‘premature’

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Top Gear was out and about on the Mall, London, yesterday for what they describe as its most ambitious shoot ever... in addition to the red, white and blue (black?) Jaguar F-TYPES was a McLaren P1 hypercar (see right). The new series begins on Sunday, June 30th at 8pm, BBC Two.

Top Gear was out and about on the Mall, London, yesterday for what was described as its most ambitious shoot ever… in addition to red, white and blue (black?) Jaguar F-TYPES was a McLaren P1 hypercar (see right). The new series begins on Sunday, June 30th at 8pm, BBC Two.

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TRAVEL/WEATHER:

Meteoalarm weather alerts – storms continue in eastern Europe with red alerts for all Czech Republic. Amber alerts for northern Italy, Hungary, southern Austria and Serbia.

Weather in brief – lots of showers in north west Europe though UK largely dry. Dry and sunny Romania, Greece and Turkey. Hot and sunny Spain and Portugal, less so South of France.

Crossing the Channel – all DFDS sailings Harwich-Esbjerg have been cancelled until the end of the week (see below) following the incident on Saturday. No other operators currently reporting any delays.

From @Port_of_Dover this morning: …

Latest @CF_travel_news forecast: ‘Current forecast indicates slight sea conditions for the week.’

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NOTES:

Eurotunnel – “Resurfacing works will be taking place in the boarding lanes of the UK Terminal from 17 – 28 June. During this period, there will be no catering or toilet facilities available in this area. Please visit the Victor Hugo Terminal building after you have checked in to make full use of the facilities available there.”

Brussels – a European Summit for Heads of State on Thursday and Friday (27 and 28 June) will mean the area around the EU buildings in the east of the city will be completely closed to all traffic and pedestrians. Residents are even being barred from putting out their rubbish. Click for more.

Bulgaria – after eleven straight days of protest against the recently elected government the British Embassy says, ‘There is a small risk of violence. Avoid large gatherings in public spaces and follow local media and the advice of the local authorities.’ For the latest FCO travel advice click here. For Bulgarian news in English see www.Novinite.com or @novinite_com on Twitter.

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NEWS/PHOTOS:

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Germany – after five years, federal police (BKA – Bundeskriminalamt) have detained a man believed to be responsible for 700 random shootings on autobahns. The 57 year old professional driver was detained at his home in Nord Rhein Westphalia, western Germany, yesterday, according to a statement. The incidents started in July 2008 mainly targeting car transporters. Several serious injuries but no fatalities resulted. A change to more powerful ammunition last year saw the investigation move up a gear. The BKA will hold a press conference tomorrow.

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Road safety – the 650,000 deer on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido caused over 2,500 accidents last year. In a bid to reduce the carnage transport operators are sprinkling wolf urine along the roads according to AFP. The effect lasts for a month. The wolf urine is imported from America.

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Ferry – DFDS’ Sirena Seaways will be out of service until at least next Saturday (29 June). All departures until Friday have been cancelled. The vessel struck the berth at Harwich as it returned from its regular sailing from Esbjerg, Denmark. Nobody was injured. The ship is said to be holed below the water line. The DFDS service is the only regular sailing between UK-Scandinavia. Limited space is sometimes available on DFDS Tor Line boats between Immingham/Tilbury-Gothenburg.

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A glitch, Rolls-Royce style: Pordoi aborted in favour of Falzarego. Click for the official blog/photos.

Saturday saw a spectacular gala dinner presided over by HRH the Duke of Gloucester for participants in the Rolls-Royce Rally, at Lake Garda. It marked the half way stage and also exactly 100 years since the start of the original 1913 rally. Since then, drivers have tackled the Dolomites in two stages, stopping in Moena overnight, taking in the Gobbera, Broccone, and Rolle Passes. The original plan to take the Pordoi Pass was aborted at the last moment in the face of a ‘very large and unexpected bicycle tour’ so they opted for the Falzarego Pass instead.. Oh well, it wouldn’t be an adventure if it all went to plan. Next: Slovenia and Trieste.

Saturday saw a spectacular gala dinner presided over by HRH the Duke of Gloucester for participants in the Rolls-Royce Rally, at Lake Garda. It marked the half way stage and also exactly 100 years since the start of the original 1913 rally. Since then, drivers have tackled the Dolomites in two stages, stopping in Moena overnight, taking in the Gobbera, Broccone, and Rolle Passes. The original plan to take the Pordoi Pass was aborted at the last moment in the face of a ‘very large and unexpected bicycle tour’ so they opted for the Falzarego Pass instead.. Oh well, it wouldn’t be a genuine adventure if it all went to plan. Next: Slovenia and Trieste.

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Kazakhstan – a member of the lower legislative house Majilis last week proposed a ban on smoking while driving says Interfax. ‘Why is this still legal?’ asked Omarkhan Oxikbayev, also chairman of the national Accounts Committee. Italy and the Netherlands are considering similar bans. Smoking in the presence of under-16s, including in cars, is prohibited in Cyprus. Ireland and Finland are considering the issue.

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France – another day, another road safety initiative. Addressing a road safety conference on Friday, interior minister Manuel Valls proposed cars should have ‘black box’ (boites noires) accident recorders, a move he points out is also being discussed around Europe and in America (not to be confused with UK insurance black boxes). The minister also restated the objective to reach 2,000 accident fatalities by 2020, down from 3,653 in 2012. Other ideas include a ban on hands-free phones that use earphones or headphones though embedded phones would be exempt. There is also some discussion that the age for driving unaccompanied should be reduced to 15 years old. Read thelocal.fr report, and the Liberation report.

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Russia – a tractor driver has been caught after stealing a bridge in Frolovo in the south west Vologda region. The man had been intending to sell it for scrap metal but was apprehended after police followed drag marks to his house.

Meanwhile, a new law which will levy an approx. 6p per km ($0.11) charge for 12t trucks using federal roads met immediate opposition from the industry with ‘Turkish’ style protests planned, i.e. road blocks. The new legislation will come into force in November 2014. The exact number of heavy vehicles is unknown but reckoned to be around 1.5m. The system will be governed by on-board electronic units with revenues ring fenced for roads maintenance.

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Belgium – motoring association Touring says its research shows a crash at 50kph multiplies the weight of unsecured luggage in the passenger compartment by fifty and can inflict fatal injuries even at that speed. It recommends using rear seatbelts to tie items down.

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Bosnia - a brand new 5km section of dual carriageway opens this week between the brand new Bijaca international border point and one of Bosnia’s finest natural attractions, the Kravice Waterfalls. Only a few miles further on is the world’s second most visited Catholic pilgrimage site, Medjugorje. The new road, part of A1, was finished ahead of time and 6m BAM (£2.6m) below budget.

Bosnia – a brand new 5km section of dual carriageway opens this week between the brand new Bijaca international border point and one of Bosnia’s finest natural attractions, the Kravice Waterfalls. Only a few miles further on is the world’s second most visited Catholic pilgrimage site, Medjugorje. The new road, part of A1, was finished ahead of time and 6m BAM (£2.6m) below budget.

In related news a new direct road from southern Bosnia city of Capljina and the country’s sole coastal resort Neum got the go-ahead last week. The existing road winds around the mountains so drivers commonly drive through Croatia instead. With Croatia joining the EU from 1 July however crossing two Schengen borders will be impractical. The Bosnian authorities perhaps belatedly see the new road as high priority. The funding instrument is almost in place. Construction should start by the end of the year.

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Poland – the Director General of National Roads and Motorways (GDDKiA) has announced tenders for four new motorways: one section each of S5 (Wielkopolskie) and S7 (Warminsko-Mazurskie), and two sections of S19 (Podkarpackie). Nine more tenders will be announced before the end of June says the New Poland Express, and a further 450km-worth in the second half of 2013 (for a yearly total of 700km). The GDDKiA rep at the EC’s Road Charging conference in December famously announced that, from 2015, Poland would become ‘a massive building site’ as its ambitious roads programme was put into full effect. The UKTI website has more information and advice on road and motorway construction in Poland. Also see this easy guide in English from the Turkish Ministry of Economy. Only contracts less than €5.2m appear on the EU TED’s tender site while GDDKiA has a preference for short 10-15km road sections.

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Montenegro – 18 people have died and 29 injured after a coach plunged 40m off a bridge in Montenegro, apparently in heavy rain. The victims are all from Romania. The accident happened on the Kolasin-Podgorica road at the Grlo Bridge according to the official report, some 30km north of Podgorica. The mountainous area is a known accident hotspot in the tourist season according to reports.

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TechnologyTelegraph Travel has advice on the cheapest way to make mobile phone calls when on holiday in Europe, hopefully soon to be obsolete when roaming charges are outlawed next year.

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Turkey/Georgia – a new border point at Cildir will cut the transit time from Turkey’s eastern province of Ardahan to Azerbaijan from the current four hours to under 2h30. It was opened last week by Turkey’s President Gul.

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EU – in its monthly roundup, the European Commission has collared Belgium, Portugal, Romania, France and the UK for infringements in Transport. Belgium is yet to transpose directives on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), for instance real time warnings about dangerous road conditions ahead (via the Belgian Road Rage twitter feed – @BE_RoadRage – DriveEurope is detecting increased dissatisfaction with road conditions in the country). Separately Belgium and Portugal have not taken ‘action regarding safety management of road infrastructure’ including road safety audits and safety rankings. Romanian authorities are in breach of EU Public Procurement rules over the upgrading of the Crasna-Iasi highway having relied on national law which does not include, for instance, ‘full right of effective review’ for failed bidders. The infringement roundup also includes last week’s widely reported failure of the UK and France to ensure a fully independent regulator for the Channel Tunnel, and for continued high access charges.

Separately, European Commission Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas met with the UK Transport Select Committee in Brussels today and discussed, among other things, ‘how to boost Channel Tunnel use,’ according to his twitter feed (@SiimKallasEU).

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Bulgaria – the 101 year anniversary of the liberation of Pirin Macedonia in southern Bulgaria from Ottoman rule has sparked protests in Blagoevgrad over the recent election of the District Governor from the minority Turkish-ethnic DPS party. Demonstrators say they will block the important E79 road south to the Greece border at noon on Wednesday unless Musa Palev resigns. ‘Road blocks will be staged every week in the following order: the Ilinden and Kulata border crossing points, main road E-79 near Sandaski, Simitli and Strumlyani until this person understands that he is not wanted,’ one protestor told news agency Novinite.com today.

Also – a lack of road signs, and places to buy the road vignettes needed for both Romania and Bulgaria – and no connecting infrastructure at either end – are fuelling the feeling that last week’s opening of Danube 2 was premature. The bridge has been the subject of several reports on Bulgarian television. Despite this, Danube 2 is proving popular, perhaps because tolls will not be levied until 1 July.

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