TODAY: looking ahead to the weekend traffic. It may be the last but it could be the worst Black Saturday of the summer, in France especially.
Plus, new speed warnings on some French motorways. Belgian police issue a retro warning about speed cameras. The trial of the ‘autobahn shooter’ starts today. A new ferry between Bulgaria, Georgia and Russia sets sail tomorrow. Alleged dodgy practices at car rental firms earn the ire of the European Commission while the new Transbucegi high altitude road in Romania upsets at least one hiker. RT captures the moment the massive humanitarian aid convoys departs Moscow for Ukraine.
BLACK SATURDAY 3: EVASIVE ACTION
The last super-busy summer Saturday is likely to be the worst.
Cumulative traffic jams on France’s major road network look certain to breach the 1,000km barrier this weekend after a record peak of 994km on 2 August, the first ‘Black Saturday’.
Last year’s record – of 828km – was set on 17 August.
Bison Fute says traffic conditions will be ‘extremely difficult’ – black – for traffic heading both to and from the Mediterranean coast.
This Saturday is the first, and only, black day for traffic heading home. It will still be busy, nationwide, on Sunday.
Much of the traffic from the coast will have no choice but to funnel up A7 Avignon-Lyon and then onto the A6 back to Paris. Delays of more than three hours are to be expected on the first stretch from first thing until at least (late) lunchtime.
Drivers from the west should consider the A75/A71 via Clermont Ferrand or, better still, the A20 via Limoges. From the east, either start super-early – hit Avignon no later than 07:00 – or leave as late as possible. From the Nice end, the only real alternative is the N85 Route Napoleon Cannes-Grenoble.
In Germany too, this Saturday will be the last majorly busy day of the summer, and even already slightly quieter on Friday than it has been. More schools across the north are preparing to go back so expect this to be the focus of the heaviest traffic (apart from A8 Munich-Salzburg).
An early start seems to be the best way to avoid the worst in Germany.
Summer traffic in Austria peaked last weekend according to OAMTC but still expect delays on the major transit routes, A13 Brenner, A12 Innsbruck-Munich, B179 Fernpass, A10 Salzburg-Villach and, of course, the A11 Karawanken Tunnel at Villach.
Meanwhile, major delays at the Gotthard Tunnel in Switzerland are set to continue until 13 September. Two hour waits northbound are likely though the big queues have typically not developed, so far this summer, until after 09:00.
roundup: GERMANY. The trial of the alleged ‘autobahn shooter’ starts in Wurzburg today. The 58 year old man named as Michael Harry K is accused of firing more than 700 shots from his cab at passing trucks, mainly car transporters, apparently out of frustration with driving standards. He was arrested last June after a five year hunt. One woman was seriously injured. BLACK SEA. The new roll-on, roll-off ferry between Bulgaria, Georgia and Russia sets sail for the first time tomorrow, between Burgas, Poti and Novorossiyisk. Operated by Port Bulgaria West though there are no details on the website. Previously reported to be owned by Clever Synergies Investment Fund. CAR RENTAL. Complaints over alleged practices like automatic rerouting depending on the potential customer’s internet address – increasing the price by 100% in one case – have sparked a European Commission investigation into car rental firms. Following initial inquiries, Europcar, Hertz and Avis have been told to be seen to be complying with EU non-discrimination rules by 30 August, or else, according to a press release. ROMANIA. The new Transbucegi high altitude road opened last year, between Bucharest and Brasov, has not impressed the editor of Bucharest Life magazine. The prime hiking country is bespoiled by poor parking he says.
A creative video from Russian state-backed English language broadcaster RT of the 287-truck humanitarian aid convoy leaving Moscow for Ukraine this morning. Despite assurances from the Russian government, fears remain the convoy is on a ‘Trojan Horse’ mission. It’s exact contents, and destination, is not known. Social media posts from Russian soldiers repainting the (mainly KAMAZ) military trucks did nothing to quell anxieties. At 750km from Moscow direct to the Ukraine border, the convoy should arrive tomorrow.
GIBRALTAR FRONTIER WATCH: delays up to 45mins this morning and 1h30 around midnight.
CONDOR FERRIES rescheduled services, Commodore Clipper on course to return 26 August.