Finland moving to road tolls – Col des Roches – Wings to Syria

Last updated 18:00 GMT.

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Channel delays: P&O cancellations, tech issue: Calais-Dover 16:05 and Dover-Calais 17:25.

Weather alerts: Amber alert for snow central Finland and yellow for fog/ice Germany, north east Spain, north Italy and Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia and Serbia. See below for Switzerland.

Weather: Sunny across Southern Europe but ‘jet stream brings rain to the north’.

See Travel/Traffic/Weather for more.

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SWITZERLAND. Heavy fog plaguing the Swiss plateau region from Geneva to Zurich will persist until Thursday. Meanwhile, authorities across the border in France have reduced the speed limit by 20kmh, to 110kmh on autoroutes and 70kmh on main roads.

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Wings on Wheels – a second aid convoy has left Unterturkheim, Stuttgart, destined for Gazientep on the Syrian border in south central Turkey. Two hundred tonnes of supplies worth €2m, including winter clothing, food, medicine and tents, left Friday on the six day 3,300km journey via Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria. This on top of a €4m shipment in September. Mercedes-Benz supplied the eleven strong fleet of brand new 420bhp Actros trucks. Daimler and its employees raised €100,000.

Wings on Wheels – a second aid convoy has left Unterturkheim, Stuttgart, destined for Gazientep on the Syrian border in south central Turkey. Two hundred tonnes of supplies worth €2m, including winter clothing, food, medicine and tents, left Friday on the six day 3,300km journey via Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria. This on top of a €4m shipment in September. Mercedes-Benz supplied the eleven strong fleet of brand new 420bhp Actros trucks. Daimler and its employees raised €100,000.

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FINLAND MOVING TO ROAD TOLLS.

Pay per kilometer charge to replace all vehicle taxes.

Finland: the A12 at Tempere in south west Finland earlier today. Picture via

The A12 at Tampere in south west Finland earlier today. Picture via www.liikennevirasto.fi national traffic website. BTW Pyynikki is a 26m high observation tower with views over the city and lakes Nasijarvi to the north and Pyhajarvi to the south, open for tourists.

Finland is moving steadily towards a national pay as you go road user charging system.

A working group sponsored by the Transport ministry and headed by former Nokia boss Jorma Ollila – now chairman of Shell – published its report today (here in English).

It recommends replacing all vehicle taxes, purchase and road taxes, with a pay per mile rate of around 3.3c/km. The charge would vary depending on the vehicle emissions and location, countryside or city. Existing fuel levies would remain.

It’s the latest in a long line of reports recommending road tolls. A survey in September said 57% of Finns would welcome the move. Initial reaction to the report has been favourable.

The system won’t apply to freight or public transport.

Removing purchase taxes would see the price of an average new car fall by €7,000. Current tax on an entry level VW Golf retailing for €19,735 is €3,495.

Overall, the tolls would be tax neutral for the average motorists doing 17,000km each year.

The next step is on-road trials to develop the technology and iron out privacy concerns. The system works via GPS though real time monitoring would apparently not be possible.

Transport minister Merja Kyllonen welcomed the report saying the system would best be introduced ‘in stages with a long transition period’. It’s unlikely to be fully up and running before 2020.

update Saturday 21 December: 55% are opposed to the road charging scheme according to an opinion poll, with only 25% in favour. The principal objection is fairness, particularly for drivers in rural areas.

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More than a million images taken from books in the British Library Collection have been published for free on Flickr Commons. The picture above – ‘The Col de Roches, Jura’ – is taken from p221 of ‘A Ramble round France’ by J. Chesney published in 1885. Col des Roches is a mountain pass (919m, 3,015ft) in the Jura Mountains between Le Locle in west Switzerland and Morteau in east France, just north of Lake Neuchatel. Now replaced by a tunnel on the D461. For more info on the project see www.bl.uk

More than a million images taken from books in the British Library Collection have been published for free on Flickr Commons, all from the 17-19th century. The picture above – ‘The Col de Roches, Jura’ – is taken from p221 of ‘A Ramble round France’ by J. Chesney published in 1885. Col des Roches is a mountain pass (919m, 3,015ft) in the Jura Mountains between Le Locle in west Switzerland and Morteau in east France, just north of Lake Neuchatel. Now replaced by a tunnel on the D461. The images are published with basic page and book references. The British Library will launch an App next year for users to fill in more information. For more see www.bl.uk

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RUSSIA. A shoot out inside an armoured car in St Petersburg last night resulted in the death of two guards. The men were transferring $6m in cash to deposit at the Central Bank. FRANCE. Parking fines could rise significantly reports The Connexion. Responsibility for parking is set to transfer from police to local authorities. The fine is currently €17 nationwide but could rise to €36 in Paris. GERMANY. Angela Merkels’s limo was rammed by an elderly motorist last night while en route from her weekend retreat in Brandenburg to Berlin (to announce her new cabinet). Merkel alternates between armoured versions of the BMW 7-series, Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8 to avoid favouritism in the German ‘limo-wars’. The impact, at the exit for Berlin-Weissensee on the A10, was described as a ‘glancing blow’ but was enough to smash the wing mirrors of both cars. BULGARIA. New roads vignette sticker goes on sale today. Prices – which haven’t changed since 2007 – range from 10LEV (£4.30) for a weekly pass, to 25LEV (£10.80) for a month or 67LEV (£28.90) for one year for cars, category K3. The vignette applies to all motorways and most main roads; avoiding buying it is not really practical. See www.vinetka.com for more, or to buy in advance.

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