Driving in Russia OK – new EU transport network – New bridge Day Ukraine, Belarus, Luxembourg

Last updated 21:00 BST.

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NEWS: Tourists and transit drivers can drive in Russia – New Bridge Day in Ukraine/Russia, Belarus and Luxembourg.

Channel delays: DFDS Dover-Calais 30min delay. Eurotunnel Freight: ‘high volumes’ – 2 hour delay to France.

Weather alerts: Amber alert for flooding north east France, fog south east Poland, heavy rain and high winds Hungary, heavy rain Montenegro and storms Greece.

Weather: Very warm in Spain, heavy rain north and west France later.

Traffic: see @DE_Traffic, from 05:15BST.

See Travel/Traffic/Weather for more.

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Russia – panic stations after trucking federation the International Road Transport Union – @The_IRU – retweeted a blog post saying foreign drivers will not be allowed to drive in Russia from 5 November. We now have it on good authority however – from Natalia Agre, President of Road Safety Russia – that the new rules will not apply to tourists or transit drivers. More details will follow via the rsrussia.org website. We suspect it’s to with a terrible accident in Moscow in July when a truck driven by an Armenian man crashed into a bus south of Moscow killing eighteen and wounding 60 people.

Not un-incidentally, the IRU – which runs the international transit system TIR – is currently in dispute with the Russian authorities who are threatening to withdraw (though the IRU seems to be winning at the moment).

update 06.11.13: a report in the Moscow Times says the new rules go live on 9 May 2014.

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The Trans-European Transport Network – TEN-T. A three day conference in Tallinn, Estonia this week consolidates plans after the bruising EU budget negotiations earlier in the year. After some jockeying, the transport budget emerged pretty much intact: basically there’s €26bn to spend 2014-20 which will be leveraged with state and private sector investment to the €250bn needed to complete the core network by 2030. The big news is that there are now nine major corridors, for rail, maritime and roads (in that order). As the dust settles we’ll catch up with the details; what’s already clear though is that there is no direct north-south link through Eastern Europe, the so-called Baltic-Aegean Via Carpathia.

The new Trans-European Transport Network – TEN-T. A three day conference in Tallinn, Estonia this week consolidates plans after the bruising EU budget negotiations earlier in the year. After some jockeying, transport emerged pretty much intact: basically there’s €26bn to spend 2014-20 which will be leveraged with state and private sector investment into the €250bn needed to complete the core network by 2030. The big news is that there are now nine major corridors, for rail, maritime and roads (in that order). As the dust settles we’ll catch up with the details; what’s already clear though is that there is no direct north-south link through Eastern Europe, the so-called Baltic-Aegean Via Carpathia.

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Ukraine/Russia – the two countries are planning to build a bridge over the Kerch Strait, between Crimea and Taman, and the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. It will replace a ferry service. No timeframe as yet but PM Medvedev has put his weight behind it.

Belarus. Meanwhile, a new bridge over the Mukhavets River has opened in Brest in the south west. Six lanes wides and 180m long, the as yet unnamed bridge passes alongside the famous Brest Fortress where defenders heroically held out for nearly a week in the early days of Operation Barbarossa in 1941. It will eventually form part of a Western Bypass but has already reduced congestion by 30% according to official sources.

Also, a newly refurbished border crossing has reopened at Privalki on the Lithuanian border. The new crossing has capacity for 570 cars, 400 trucks and 30 buses per day and provides a direct route from Hrodna to Vilnius.

LuxembourgAnother new bridge has opened, this time between Grevenmacher in east Luxembourg and Wellen in Germany, over the Moselle river. Grevenmacher is on the A1/A64 between Luxembourg city and Trier so the major route wasn’t disrupted during its five month reconstruction though the old bridge made for a handy back route through lush country/farm/vineyard land.

Belgium. Police were especially unhappy to find 17 drivers using mobile phones while behind the wheel during a recent crackdown on commercial vehicles. Out of 252 inspections, 155 violations were found (though they don’t say how many of those were multiple violations).

Serbia. A Google Street View car has been spotted in Belgrade. The company gained permission last week.

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From the archives: 'The usual mash up between an old map, out of date satnav and not really paying full attention sees us drive most of the 45km between Timisoara and Arad by back roads when they’ve just opened a new motorway.'

From the archives, Romania: ‘The usual mash up between an old map, out of date satnav and not really paying full attention sees us drive the 45km between Timisoara and Arad by back roads when they’ve just opened a new motorway.’

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