Daily Brief 20 August 2013

Last updated 19:00 BST.

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NEWS: Rome no-car city – Pagodas in Sauerland – 1st birthday MyFerryLink – Passenger grenade Russia/missing $43m – limit raise Finland – Kazak collapse – no smoking Spain – super safe Model S.

See below for the latest Traffic/Travel/Weather.

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We were being really clever. Rather than sit in the queue for the Gotthard Tunnel - 90minsat this point, even at 19:00 on a Tuesday evening - why not take the pass instead!

Passing the time. Rather than sit in the queue for the Gotthard Tunnel for 90mins we thought we’d try the pass instead, even if the board at Andermatt said it was shut. Funnily enough it was shut, even in mid-May. Still, better than just sitting there waiting, even if the massive ice block sticking out into the road on the way up was a good two metres further into the road five minutes later on the way back down. They shut the passes for a reason. Be careful. This is a good time to mention there are currently road works on the Gotthard Pass, due to finish on Saturday. Photo @DriveEurope.

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Channel delays: none reported currently.

Weather alerts: Amber: high temps south west Spain; storms central Italy; forest fire Slovenia, high temps Serbia & Montenegro.

Weather: hot and sunny apart showers Baltic States and the Alps.

Traffic: see @DE_Traffic. Antwerp city slowly returning to normal. Italy A1 southbound Piacenza delays. Bremen A1 southbound.

See Travel/Traffic/Weather for more.

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All roads lead to Rome? They used to. Photo @DriveEurope.

All roads lead to Rome? They used to. Photo @DriveEurope.

Rome – recently elected mayor Ignazio Marino, a former heart surgeon and keen cyclist, increasingly makes London’s Ken Livingstone look like Henry Ford. If he gets his way – again – Mayorino will transform the centre of the city into ‘the biggest archaeological park in the world,’ says ANSA news agency: a vast pedestrianized zone stretching between Piazza Venezia and Piazza del Popolo, encompassing the three streets known as The Trident: Via di Ripetta, Via del Corso and Via del Babuino. Where they are allowed vehicles will be restricted to 30kmh. That’s not all. Marino reportedly told Italian radio this morning, ‘The city is more than the downtown area. We need to make pedestrian-only zones in other neighbourhoods, so people can enjoy taking a stroll, shopping, and chatting, enriching the urban décor.’ The new plans were announced on the back of successful bid to ban cars from Via dei Fori Imperiali, the road around the Colosseum, from early this month.

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210 Mercedes-Benz Pagodas descended on the Sauerland to celebrate 50 years since the model’s launch at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show. Nicknamed after its concave roof, the Pagoda was considered to be a ladies car initially until it won the 1963 Spa-Sofia-Liege Rally. Sauerland – not to be confused with Saarland - is in central west Germany, between Frankfurt and the Ruhr. Heavily wooded and hilly rather than mountainous it is nevertheless good for skiing. The festivities centred around Willingen, its modern alpine-style Hotel Sauerland Stern and the Muhlenkopfschanze, the world’s longest ski jump where skiiers can exceed 150m.

210 Mercedes-Benz Pagodas descended on the Sauerland to celebrate 50 years since the model’s launch at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show. Nicknamed after its concave roof, the Pagoda was considered a ladies’ car initially until it won the 1963 Spa-Sofia-Liege Rally. The peloton included the original car, chassis 14, that won the race. Sauerland – not to be confused with the Saarland – is in central west Germany, north of Frankfurt and east of Cologne. Easily accessed from Holland, Belgium and the Channel ports. Heavily wooded and hilly rather than mountainous it is nevertheless good for skiing. The festivities centred around Willingen, its modern alpine-style Hotel Sauerland Stern and the Muhlenkopfschanze, the world’s longest ski jump where skiiers can exceed 150m. Photo Mercedes-Benz.

For more, see Mercedes webzine, Hotel Sauerland Stern and Sauerland Tourism.

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Roundup: Russia. A passenger detonated a grenade during an argument in southern Russia killing the driver says Interfax. This is exactly why we don’t allow ordnance in the cabin. Meanwhile, prosecutors are investigating what happened to $43m missing from the roads budget in the region. Spain. @olivepress reports: ‘Anyone caught throwing lit cigarette ends out of their car window will get 4 points on their licence! Watch out”’. Kazakhstan. The Union of Road Builders say 30% of the country’s roads are on the verge of collapse according to Interfax. Finland. Ten out of thirteen members of the parliamentary transport committee are in favour of raising the national speed limit to 130kmh says YLE. The Ministry of Transport itself however didn’t sound too enthusiastic. Tesla. The lack of an engine up front means Teslas’ new wonder car the Model S achieved the highest scores of any car ever tested in US official tests (according to Tesla). Model S is yet to be subjected to the European NCAP regime.

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Eurotunnel-backed Dover-Calais ferry operator MyFerryLink is one year old today. Three lucky passengers were given a bottle of champagne to celebrate. The firm says its July figures make it the second placed operator on the route, i.e. behind P&O but apparently ahead of DFDS, with an 8.2% share of the tourist market and 10% of freight (Eurotunnel takes over 50%). MyFerryLink says it offers the cheapest fares Dover-Calais and will match any like-for-like from a rival. Prices start at £19 each way for a car and up to nine passengers. The big threat is the on-going appeal against the UK Competition Commission’s decision to bar MyFerryLink from the route.

Eurotunnel-backed Dover-Calais ferry operator MyFerryLink is one year old today. Three lucky passengers were given a bottle of champagne to celebrate. Very grateful they look too. MFL says its July figures make it the second placed operator on the route, i.e. behind P&O but apparently ahead of DFDS, with an 8.2% share of the tourist market and 10% of freight (Eurotunnel takes over 50%). MyFerryLink says it offers the cheapest fares Dover-Calais and will match any like-for-like from a rival. Prices start at £19 each way for a car and up to nine passengers. Eurotunnel is currently appealing the UK Competition Commission’s decision to bar MyFerryLink from the Dover-Calais route.

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