Daily Brief 1 August 2013

Last updated 20:20 BST.

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in brief:

Channel delays: Only Eurotunnel Freight, DFDS Dover-Dunkirk + P&O Calais-Dover.

Weather: Hot central/south; cloud north.

Traffic: See @DE_Traffic from 09:00 BST.

News: Italy toll strike off – Man steals road – Belarus road tolls start – Coach crash road operator prosecuted.

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Swiss-Italian border, Chiasso-Como. Admittedly there are worse places to queue. Chalet-dotted wooded hills rising behind, Lake Como just a few hundred yards away. But the borderless Schengen Area was supposed to have put an end to ‘Controlli Doganali’ (customs control), even between Italy and Switzerland. The delays are mostly to do with the toll stations just down the road on the A9 to Milan apparently but nevertheless cars pass slowly under suspicious eyes across the border. Long southbound queues are normal here; up to 8km at busy times.

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WEATHER.

Meteoalarm weather risk alerts – Red and Amber alerts for forest fire south Norway. Amber alert heavy rain Ireland. Amber alerts for high temperatures Montenegro, Hungary, Spain and Belgium.

Weather – hot and fair France, Low Countries, Germany, Spain, Italy, Alps. Cloud and some drizzle in the north.

TRAVEL.

P&O Calais-Dover: ‘All services operating to schedule except the Calais to Dover 20h35 which will now depart approx. 21h35 due to earlier technical problem.’

DFDS Dover-Dunkirk: ‘The following departures on our Dover Dunkirk services are operating with delays of up to 60 minutes due to port movements – Departing Dover at 2000, 2200 and 2359. Departing Dunkirk at 2200 and 2359.’

Eurotunnel Freight: UK Terminal delay 2h30, French Terminal delay two hours.

No operators currently reporting any delays.

See Traffic/Travel/Weather for more.

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NEWS.

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Italy – it sounded too good to be true, and so it turns out. The strike at motorway toll stations planned for this weekend has been called off… Like with the motorway filling station strike a few weeks ago, it seems the powers-that-be caved in. Was great while it lasted. Hope not too many people completely rejigged their travel plans in anticipation.

Rome – private vehicles will be banned from the road around the Coliseum – Via dei Fori Imperiali – from this Saturday morning and throughout the extensive renovation works. But recently elected, cycling mad mayor Ignazio Marino said today ‘I am dreaming’ that roads around the world famous monument would be free of all vehicles, even public transport, before the end of his five year term. The term ‘total pedestrianisation’ is gaining currency in the city. One wonders where it will end. For the full story read this from ANSA news agency.

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Flags flew at half mast at the Ferrari factory in Maranello on Tuesday in memory of the 38 victims of the Avellino coach crash.

Flags flew at half mast at the Ferrari factory in Maranello on Tuesday in memory of the 38 victims of the Avellino coach crash.

Avellino – two executives from road operator Autostrade are among several people under investigation for manslaughter following the coach crash catastrophe on the A16 near Naples last Sunday. Thirty eight people died when their coach plunged off the Acqualonga Viaduct near Avellino. The charges reportedly relate to the type of crash barrier used on the carriageway.

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Russia – a few weeks ago we reported how a man was arrested after stealing a bridge in northern Russia. Now a man from Syktyvkar, a city in the centre of the country, has been detained on suspicion of stealing a road. According to the Moscow Times, police stopped three trucks carrying 82 reinforced concrete slabs – with a, er, street value of $6,100  – that previously formed a carriageway in the region.

Other news: If you thought Russian traffic cops were on the make purely for themselves then think again. A group of front line traffic police in southern Siberia have reportedly petitioned the Kremlin about an alleged extortion racket. Each mobile patrol group is apparently forced to pay their bosses 1,500 rubles (£30) per shift. An oft quoted poll in 2007 said 48% of Russians thought the traffic police were corrupt; that’s why so many have dashcams to prevent them being fitted up (and why Russian dashcam videos are such a rich source of online entertainment). But now a senior parliamentary deputy has tabled a motion to have them banned under privacy laws. Similar rules already make the devices illegal in Luxembourg and Austria, the latter with a swingeing €10,000 fine, even for a first offence.

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The new electronic toll system, Belarus.

The new electronic toll system, Belarus.

Belarus – the BelToll system goes live today. Electronic road tolls are now payable by all EU-registered vehicles at a rate between €0.04-0.12 per kilometre, on 815km of the country’s major roads. In the future they could vary the tolls depending on vehicle emissions, an advanced feature even by Western European standards. See www.beltoll.by for more.

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NOTE:

Crossing the Channel – All operators are warning passengers to leave plenty of time for journeys to the port. With availability often limited at this time of the year, late passengers may have to want considerable time for space, and/or be liable for extra charges.

Bulgaria – anti-govt demonstrations becoming a permanent feature, stepping up a gear on 23 July with a blockade of parliament. 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.

Turkey – after some time without protests the situation is unpredictable again. See latest FCO travel advice.

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