Daily Brief 3 July 2013

Latest update 19:40

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P&O Dover-Calais – ‘All services are operating to schedule and on time apart from the Pride of Burgundy’s following sailings which are currently running with a delay of up to 45 minutes. Calais – Dover 13h25. Dover – Calais 14h45.’

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News: Croatia border queuesTransfagarasan officially open – Russian traffic police 77 today – Finnish road safety panic – Trakia definitely open 15 July – WAVE underway Vienna-Zurich – New registered mileage checks – Serbia setback Corridor 10

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Romania: the famous Transfagarasan DN7c road, from Sibiu to Curtea de Arges (near Pitesti) is officially open says the Romanian roads authority - but the Windy500 camped on the top last week so it must have been unofficially open for a while. Either way, it closes this year on 31 October.

Romania: the famous Transfagarasan DN7c road, from Sibiu to Curtea de Arges (near Pitesti) is officially open says the Romanian roads authority – but the Windy500 camped on the top last week so it must have been unofficially open for a while. Either way, it closes this year on 31 October. Pic: INCHIS it was definitely closed when we went in mid-May. It is also closed each night from 21:00-07:00.

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TRAVEL/WEATHER:

Meteoalarm weather alerts – Amber alert for high temperatures northern Montenegro and for storms in central and east Austria.

Weather in brief – lots of sunshine in southern Europe, but some cloud and outbreaks of rain to the north.

Crossing the Channel – 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 today: ‘Here in Dover sea conditions in the Channel are slight to moderate with West Sou Westerly breeze, force 4-5 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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Croatia widespread reports of log jam, particularly at the Bajakovo border crossing with Serbia, since the new EU regime kicked in on Monday. But checking the webcams this afternoon via the Croatian Automobile Club (HAK) website it now seems quiet. HAK publish a newsletter each day with webcam links and expected holdups here. It’s also not clear yet what effect the new borders are having on drivers going to and from Dubrovnik over the Bosnian land corridor.

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A Finnish road sign, via Liikennevirasto, the Finnish Transport Agency.

A Finnish road sign, via Liikennevirasto, the Finnish Transport Agency.

Finland – no central barriers often, narrow roads (making improvements prohibitively expensive), lack of action on drunk driving and a general apathy about road safety means the land of Kimi Raikkonen lags behind its Nordic neighbours when it comes to accident stats. So says the head of traffic safety organisation ‘Liikenneturva’ to Aamulehti morning paper (via @ylenews) today. It’s true that Finland lags behind Denmark and Sweden in this respect but, according to European Union Road Federation figures, all Scandinavian countries are ahead of the EU average. For road fatalities per million inhabitants, Sweden tops the list on 28 while Finland is in eighth place on 51. The EU-27 average is 62. The UK is 31 (all 2010 figures, the latest available).

Also announced that two LNG fuelled ferries will be built for Scandlines by STX in Rauma. Those new to the ferry industry won’t realise that sentence contains four interesting pieces of news. LNG is vastly cleaner than the near bitumen burned by conventionally fuelled ferries so it will easily meet stringent new emissions targets the rest of the industry say will kill it from 2016. Scandlines has just been put on the block by its UK part-owner 3i. The STX shipyard has been in difficulty for some time, so the new ships guarantee 1,000 jobs for at least twelve months. From 2015, the new ships will serve the Gedser-Rostock route between Denmark and Germany that will be challenged by the upcoming Fehmarn Belt tunnel in 2020.

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WAVE

One shouldn't sneer, but the 1800km covered in ten days by the 2013 WAVE tour

One shouldn’t sneer, but the 1800km covered in ten days by the 2013 WAVE tour is gentle even by electric vehicle standards (WAVE stands for World Advanced Vehicle Expedition). On the other hand the route looks quite interesting, from Vienna to Zurich via Lake Bled in Slovenia and the Grossglockner Pass. Forty teams are taking part to raise awareness of EVs, driving anything wheeled and electric powered. The tour also includes a competition, judged on top speed, acceleration, etc. It’s organised by Louis Palmer, the first man to circumnavigate the world in a solar powered vehicle in 2007/08. We’ll catch up with them when they finish on 7 July to see who won. As of this morning the teams were in La Punt, Switzerland. Keep up with them by the link above.

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Bulgaria – as we reported last week, the Trakiya Highway – from Sofia to the Black Sea – will definitely open on 15 July, the first ever fast road link between the capital and coast. Just in time for the holidays. One issue though will be the lack of new petrol stations says the chairman of the Road Infrastructure Agency, despite permits being available (though at 360km from end to end maybe not a huge issue). But it is strange considering Gazprom is making a big push in the Balkans, announcing its first station in Bucharest on Monday.

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EU – one aspect of the new regime for MOT testing we missed is that vehicle mileage will now have to be recorded at inspections. European Parliament MPs voted through new roadworthiness proposals yesterday.

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Russia – Happy Birthday to the State Road Police of the Russian Federation, it’s their 77th anniversary today. Established obviously on 3 July 1936. The crowds outside the headquarters in Moscow last night however were not celebrating. Three hundred bikers descended on the building after a motorcyclists intervened in a row following a traffic incident and was beaten with baseball bats. The near riot was sparked after it was announced the three assailants would not be charged though the crowd was persuaded to disperse after three hours.

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Serbia – a fresh setback on Corridor 10 (X) but one so long expected that hopefully work will not be halted for long. Corridor 10 will eventually link western Europe with Greece (via non-EU Macedonia), running north south through Serbia. It also includes an off shoot from just south of Nis to the Bulgarian border. This is this leg currently under the spotlight. Progress has been stumbling for sometime, not least over financial trouble at its Austrian contractor Alpina. The World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development had threatened to pull backing over missed deadlines some time ago. Now Alpina has entered insolvency proceedings the plug has been pulled entirely. The Serb authorities have given notice to cancel the contract and put it back out for tender. Despite advanced works, between 40-80% complete, the road will not open until the end of 2014 at the earliest.

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NOTES:

Bulgaria – continuing anti-govt demonstrations, day twenty 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.

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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