Daily Brief 1 July 2013

Latest update 19:10

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News: Rescheduled Condor Rapide Thurs 4 July – Old cars back on Belgian roads – June snow/campervan mishap Norway – Hungarian truck tolls are go – Border controls with Slovenia and Hungary gone as Croatia joins the EU – Luxembourg DUI epidemic – Romania/Bulgaria bridge tolls start today – EBRD new roads Montenegro + Moldova

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Croatia. Welcome to the EU. The population is decidedly ambivalent. Yes they will get EU money but domestic business will have to compete against western European firms on a level playing field. For country in recession for five years that will be difficult. On a happier note, all border controls with Slovenia and Hungary have been removed making getting there easier (though to be honest driving laws have been aligned for some years now).

Croatia. Welcome to the EU, as of 00:00 1 July 2013. Despite a huge party in Zagreb last night generally the population is decidedly ambivalent. Yes they will get EU money but domestic business now has to compete against western European firms on a level playing field. For country in recession for five years that will be difficult. On a happier note, all border controls with Slovenia and Hungary have been removed so getting there is easier (though driving rules have actually been aligned for some years now).

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TRAVEL/WEATHER:

Meteoalarm weather alerts – Amber alert for storms north east Spain. NEW – Amber alert for storms north west Germany.

Weather in brief – fine in the north west. Showers in the very north, heavy from Poland eastward. Sunny and scattered showers Central getting heavier eastward. Dry across the south, hot in Spain and Portugal.

Crossing the Channel – technical hitch with P&O Dover-Calais sees some disruption, see above. DFDS sailings Harwich-Esbjerg resume on 5 July (see notes below). Condor Ferries’ Rapide operating at reduced power on Thursday 4 July with some rescheduled departure and arrival times, see here.

No other operators reporting any current delays.

From @Port_of_Dover this afternoon: ‘Here in Dover sea conditions in the Channel are moderate with West Sou Westerly breeze, force 5 and the visibility is good.’

Latest @CF_travel_news forecast: ‘The current forecast indicates slight to moderate sea conditions during the week.’

See our Traffic/Travel/Weather page for the latest.

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NEWSLOG/PHOTOS:

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An old timer number plate, Belgium

An old timer number plate, Belgium. Pic Ministry of Transport.

Belgium – cars over 25 years old, so-called Old Timers because of the O in the numberplate, are to be allowed back onto the roads says Flanders News after the Transport minister lifted some restrictions. Previously they were limited to driving to and from designated events during daylight hours. Some commercial uses and commuting are still banned however. Read the official announcement (French only).

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Moldova: The Porsche Performance Drive recently drove from Chisinau north west to the Ukraine border.

Moldova: The Porsche Performance Drive recently drove from Chisinau north west to the Ukraine border.

Moldova/Montenegro – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development announced new loans for road upgrades in Moldova and Montenegro today. Some €150m will be spent over three years on four key roads and one bypass in Moldova – click for details – improving the connection between the capital Chisinau and the Romanian border west, and the country’s only port access of 480m on the Danube at Giurgiulesti. The loan is being matched by a similar amount from the European Investment Bank.

Meanwhile in Montenegro, EBRD will supply €25m over the next few years, specifically on the Berane-Kolasin road in the north of the country, the same road, some miles further along, from the horrific crash last weekend when a Romanian coach fell into a gorge killing eighteen. Click for more details.

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Belarus – a boss at Austrian Kapsch TrafficCom has admitted that the company was caught out by ‘an array of diverse legal administrative procedures, some of which we had no idea of when launching the project,’ hence the national electronic road tolls project being delayed by a month (as we reported last week). Doesn’t sound too serious. The system goes live on 1 August and will include all foreign registered vehicles. The Belarus govt has made a point of saying it doesn’t blame Kapsch for the hold-up. See www.beltoll.by for more.

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Norway – a British couple on holiday in a camper van came a cropper after a freak snowstorm on Saturday says thelocal.no. They were on holiday in the Hardangervidda National Park in south central Norway on the highest point of route 7, the road between Oslo and Bergen. Snow was reported over 800m. The vehicle skidded off the road shortly after they departed but there were no injuries. Click for a picture.

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Hungary – HU-GO is go! Electronic tolls for trucks starts today: www.hu-go.hu

Some said it would never happen in time, but HU-GO, the electronic toll system for trucks over 3.5t is now in place and working as of 00:00 today. The system applies to 6,513km of roads – motorways, highways and main roads. Drivers can either register for an on-board unit which comes with admin advantages, especially for fleets, or occasional users can buy a prepay ticket for a designated route. Tolls are calculated on the number of axles, Euro emissions, dimensions, weight and distance travelled. To go to the English language website click the link above.

Some said it would never happen in time but HU-GO, the electronic toll system for trucks over 3.5t is now in place and working as of 00:00 today (though it seems there was a glitch overnight, and then again this morning). The system applies to 6,513km of roads – motorways, highways and main roads. Frequent drivers can register for an on-board unit which comes with admin advantages, especially for fleets. Occasional users can buy a prepay ticket for a designated route at anywhere displaying the orange HU-GO logo. Tolls are calculated on the number of axles, Euro emissions, dimensions, weight and distance travelled. To go to the English language website click the link above.

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Luxembourg – a concerted action by police on Friday night, between 00:00-04:00, saw 817 cars stopped and an incredible 65 drivers found to be DUI.

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Bulgaria/Romania – tolls on the Vidin-Calafat Danube 2 bridge – now renamed New Europe Bridge – come into effect as of today. Cars and light vans, etc, pay €6 each way. Trucks and buses from 3.5-7.5t pay €12, between 7.5-12t pay €18, over 12t with three axles pay €25 and with four axles pay €37.

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British Grand Prix: snatching victory from the jaws of what looked like abject defeat after repeated tyre failures. Not good after the 2012 fiasco. But all is now well. Photo from @RealRonHoward, director of the much anticipated film Rush about the 1976 Grand Prix season. Good to see he's keeping up with his F1 friends even though the film's in the can and due out on 20 September.

British Grand Prix: snatching victory from the jaws of what looked like abject defeat after repeated tyre failures. Not good after the 2012 fiasco. But after some thrilling final laps all is now well. Photo from @RealRonHoward, director of the much anticipated film Rush about the 1976 Grand Prix season. Good to see he’s keeping up with his F1 friends even though the film’s in the can and due out on 20 September.

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NOTES:

Bulgaria – continuing anti-govt demonstrations, day eighteen today. 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. We do not wish to be alarmist but a nationalist leader was photographed on Friday with what looked like a holstered gun (since denied) on his way into parliament; also quoted talking about ‘civil war’. The national ombudsman called for ‘level-headedness’ at the weekend.

DFDS Harwich-Esbjerg – sailings resume on Friday 5 July from Esbjerg at 18:45 and the day after from Harwich at 17:45. The DFDS service is the only regular car/passenger sailing between UK-Scandinavia. Limited space is sometimes available on DFDS Tor Line boats between Immingham/Tilbury-Gothenburg.

Turkey – despite some no-go areas on the Syrian border, general Foreign Office travel advice has been downgraded after the riots of recent weeks. Click for more.

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