Daily Brief 12 July 2013

Latest update 19:55 UK time.

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Travel: Some P&O Dover-Calais delayed by 30 mins. No other delays currently.

Weather: Very warm to hot Western Europe.

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News: New op for London’s port Newhaven?Trakia spatFormulaE in Berlin – the Battle of Goodwood – Spain’s most dangerous roads – Evoque Cab hopes return – Ukraine massive road building programme.

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Bernina Pass, Switzerland

Bernina Pass, eastern Switzerland. Thirty miles long, rising to nearly 8,000ft, but you wouldn’t know it from the road: no dizzy vertical drops. Sorry. Very glamorous though: this is the road Blofeld used to escape from James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The Italian border is at the southern end.

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TRAVEL/WEATHER:

Meteoalarm weather alerts – no Red weather alerts in Europe currently, but Amber alert for high temperatures Montenegro and for storms in southern Latvia, plus now a patch of storms in north central Spain.

Weather in brief – Very warm to hot in Western Europe. Patches of cloud, occasional showers Low Countries, Italy. Thunder northern Spain and Poland eastwards.

Crossing the Channel: No operators currently reporting any delays.

From @Port_of_Dover today: ‘Here in Dover sea conditions in the Channel are slight with a North Nor Easterly breeze, force 4 and the visibility is good.’

Latest @CF_travel_news forecast: ‘The current forecast indicates slight sea conditions [for the weekend].’

Traffic – France: The A7 south of Lyon is busy but not jammed as is around Caen and the western Mediterranean coast motorway. Otherwise French roads ok, despite warnings they would be extra busy today. Germany: noticeably busy along most major routes, particularly around cities. Switzerland: jams either side of Gotthard Tunnel (reducing) on the A2 and busy on most other major routes. Low Countries: area between Amsterdam and Brussels already calming down. Italy and Spain both ok so far.

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

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NEWSLOG:

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The Range Rover Evoque convertible has not been canned according to worldcarfans.com. LR brand director John Edwards is quoted telling a recent meeting in Australia that the possibility is back on the cards. A decision is apparently imminent. LR showed a concept Evoque drop top at the March 2012 Geneva Motor Show but it was widely reported to have been cancelled in April 2013, possibly in the face of dire sales of the Nissan Murano convertible in America. An Evoque convertible has undoubted ‘Essex appeal’, but as a compact, good looking, high-riding 4x4 – and additionally open to the elements – it makes a good case for being the only car anybody could ever need. We want one.

The Range Rover Evoque Convertible has not been canned according to worldcarfans.com. LR brand director John Edwards is quoted telling a recent meeting in Australia that the possibility is back on the cards. A decision is apparently imminent. LR showed a concept Evoque drop top at the March 2012 Geneva Motor Show but it was widely reported to have been cancelled in April 2013, possibly in the face of dire sales of the Nissan Murano convertible in America. An Evoque convertible has undoubted ‘Essex appeal’, but as a compact, good looking, high-riding 4×4 – and additionally open to the elements – it could take you everywhere you ever wanted to go. A European touring car champion. We want one.

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Ferries – P&O, MYFerryLink and DFDS are all said to be preparing to fight for the contract to run the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry service when it runs out at the end of 2014 says Lloyds Loading List (via @Burger_Ferry). The route is currently run by the DFDS/LD Lines joint venture as a concession for the Seine Maritime Council. Newhaven is notable for being the closest ferry port to London. Though the crossing time by conventional vessel is four hours, compared to ninety minutes across the Dover Strait – and the fares commensurately higher – Dieppe is 100 miles further south than Calais, while the road toll to popular waypoint Le Mans is €50 less.

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Bulgaria – prime minister Plamen Oresharski has denied an accusation from his recent predecessor Boyko Borisov that the govt is delaying the opening of Trakia Highway until the development minister returns from a trip to Brussels for the ribbon cutting ceremony. ‘It will be ready on Monday (15 July),’ Oresharski told Novinite news agency. Trakia will no less than revolutionise road transport in Bulgaria.

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FormulaE: the all-electric race series announced Berlin as its race venue. 'Yesterday'. Queue the inevitable shots of the Brandenburg Gate. The actual track though is around Tempelhof Airport, the monumental, Nazi-era airfield in walking distance of the city centre (though it redeemed itself with a starring role in the Berlin Airlift).

FormulaE: the all-electric race series announced Berlin as its third European race venue. ‘Yesterday’. Cue the inevitable shots of the Brandenburg Gate. The actual track though is around the much more interesting Tempelhof Airport, the monumental, Nazi-era airfield within walking distance of the city centre (which later redeemed itself with a starring role in the Berlin Airlift). Berlin joins London and Rome in the Winter Series which kicks off in September 2014.

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Netherlands – the handy connecting road between the A2 and the A4 south of Amsterdam, the N201 (and access to Schiphol Airport from the east) will undergo major repairs between 12 July-2 September. Diversions in place but bound to be busy. Best head further north and use A9 instead.

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The battle of Goodwood: who owns the Festival of Speed this year? McLaren, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Porsche or Mercedes? Porsche have the sculpture, Jaguar and Aston have the home crowd. The sale features possibly the most valuable car ever sold at auction, the 1954 W196 Grand Prix Mercedes. It could fetch £10m.

The Battle of Goodwood: who owns the Festival of Speed this year? McLaren, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Porsche or Mercedes? Porsche has the sculpture, Jaguar and Aston have the home crowd, McLaren is bringing every significant car in its fifty year history. The sale features possibly the most valuable racer ever sold at auction, Fangio’s 1954 W196 Grand Prix Mercedes. It could fetch £10m, or $ (update: it actually old for £17.5m).

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SpainEl Mundo has published an interactive map of the country’s most dangerous roads. In Spanish only, supplied by drivers’ campaigning organisation Automovilistas Europeos Asociados, but it’s pretty clear what the individual issues are.

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This year's Porsche Performance Drive has a fun time on Ukraine's back roads.

This year’s Porsche Performance Drive has a fun time on Ukraine’s back roads.

Ukraine – most of the national network is in good condition but that still leaves 90% of the country’s roads in need of repair says Yevhen Prusenko, head of the state roads agency Ukravtodor, according to Interfax. Main roads in the Lviv region and parts of Chernivitsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Transcarpathia still need mending as do 100,000km of Ukraine’s 117,000km rural roads. President Yanukovych was quoted earlier this month saying revamping roads was the govt’s biggest priority in 2014. The programme requires annual investment of 40-50bn UAH (£4-5bn) over the next ten years. Incidentally, officials sought the advice of Prince Michael of Kent – also patron of the Commission for Global Road safety – when he was on an unrelated visit last week. It seems like Ukraine is really taking roads and safety seriously.

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NOTES:

Luxembourg – more weekend road closures on the A4, between Luxembourg city and the French border south east. Resurfacing works on the Lux city-bound carriageway. Diversions in place.

Turkey – after some time without protests the situation became tense again over the weekend. See latest FCO travel advice.

Bulgaria – continuing anti-govt demonstrations, day twenty eight 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.

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