Friday, December 31, 2010

Beijing shows public transport gusto with new subways

Costing almost 61 billion yuan ($9.2 billion), the newly constructed lines most connecting the distant and dusty suburbs to the city center bring Beijing's subway network to 336 km (209 miles).

That distance is just a fraction of what the city government has planned, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport said reporters at the unveiling of the city's No. 15 line.

Beijing aims to have a 561-km-long subway network by 2015, and is planning for between 700 and 1,000 km by 2020, Li Xiaosong, the deputy director of the commission said Reuters.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Russia PM Putin scolds transport officials amid freeze

Mr Putin castigated government officials at a televised meeting, pointing to transport chaos and power cuts triggered by icy weather conditions.

More than 8,000 people got stuck at Moscow's Domodedovo airport because they had not been warned, he said.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled at Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo airports.

"There will be no holidays until a particular order is given. Everyone must be at work," he told cabinet ministers and regional governors.

"The situation is hard, but thankfully not catastrophic, and our task is to make sure it does not escalate to catastrophic levels," he said.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An-22 military transport aircraft crashes in central Russia

The Russian Antonov military transport aircraft crashed overnight on Tuesday in the Tula region south of Moscow, killing 11 people on board, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Itar-Tass cited a source from the Russian Defense Ministry's information division as saying the An-22 aircraft had been flying from Voronezh to Tver when it disappeared from radar screens around 9:30 pm Moscow time (1830 GMT) on Tuesday.

The news group quoted a Russian law enforcement official as confirming all 11 crew members were dead.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Transport Workers In Bolivia Strike Due To Rise In Fuel Prices

Bus drivers and other transport employees in Bolivia began an indefinite strike Monday in protest against an increase of more than 70 percent in the price of fuel.

The drivers are striking due to a 73 percent raise in gasoline prices and an 83 percent increase in the cost of diesel fuel. The Bolivian government said it raised prices to encourage more fuel production in Bolivia and to cutdown on the smuggling of cheap, subsidized fuel across Bolivian borders to other countries.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Allegiant flight attendants vote for union representation

Flight attendants at Allegiant Airlines voted in favor of representation by the Transport employees Union, the union told Wednesday.

The vote with 62% in favor of representation - marks the first time flight attendants have voted in favor of a union under the fresh federal rules that call for a simple majority decision in airline and railroad union representation elections.

It's also the first employee group of the airline, a subsidiary of Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Co., to seek union representation, notes the Las Vegas Sun.

"Allegiant is a fine place to work, and now it's going to get better," said Kristi Cohen, an Allegiant flight attendant, in a statement. "Now we've got a voice on the work. Once we can negotiate about our schedules, work rules, and other issues, we'll be full partners in growing the business."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fresh snowfall disrupts rail and air transport across Europe Read more: Fresh snowfall disrupts rail and air transport across Europe

Thousands of air travelers remained stranded and train services were severely disrupted as fresh snowfall and sub-zero temperatures worsened Europe's Christmas travel chaos.

For the fifth consecutive night, several hundred stranded passengers slept on camping beds at Germany's biggest airport in Frankfurt as the authorities struggled to cope with the tension building up among those still unable to catch a flight.

The airport operator Fraport has been trying to improve the services for stranded passengers and offered them free drinks and snacks after a brawl at Lufthansa's check-in counter previous Saturday.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Air New Zealand, Virgin Blue Get Alliance Approval

New Zealand Transport Minister Steven Joyce gave the deal a green light, a week past Australia's competition regulator approved the alliance.

"More sustainable competition, cost savings and the commitment both airlines have made to maintain trans-Tasman traveler numbers will be major benefits of the alliance," Joyce said in a statement.

Joyce's approval applies for three years, the same time period agreed to by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The carriers will be allowed to coordinate costs, scheduling, capacity and routes for flights between Australia and New Zealand.

High-speed rail route to avoid sensitive spots

The planned route of a fresh high-speed rail line has been altered to deal with serious concerns about its impact of local communities and countryside, the Transport Secretary said today.

Philip Hammond will unveil the preferred path for the expensive and controversial HS2 line from London to Birmingham on Monday and is hoping to calm opposition to it among several Conservative MPs.

Residents' groups and home councils are also vehemently against the line which will pass through the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other Tory heartlands.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Snow and ice cause chaos as Christmas rush hit by transport delays

The return of arctic situation was disrupting the Christmas getaway today as motorists were warned that almost no area of Britain would escape the potentially lethal driving conditions while No 10 was forced to deny there was a heating oil crisis.

Flights and trains were cancelled as the UK's transport network once more threatened to buckle as a result of snow and ice.

Aberdeen, Norwich and Belfast airports have all suspended flights and Gatwick is in discussion with airlines including easy Jet, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic amid worries that snow will close the runway for at least part of tomorrow.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fresh Transport Strike Hits Greece

Employees at Greek public-transport companies walked off the job Thursday in a 24-hour strike that has led to early-morning traffic chaos on the streets of Athens.

During the morning rush hour, television images showed traffic jams stretching for kilometers on different main arteries of the city as Athenians resorted to private transport to get to work.

The strike, which has affected bus, trolley, tram and subway services, is the second all-day strike by public-transport employees this week and comes after a nationwide common strike Wednesday that paralyzed the country and led to violent protests in Athens. Rail workers at the national railroad company, OSE, are also striking Thursday.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

China drives growth in int'l air transport

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Geneva said on Dec. 14 that the focus of international air transport industry is moving east, and China has become the key driver for development in the industry.

Giovanni Bisignani, Director General of the International Air Transport Association said that the profit forecast of the international air transport industry in 2010 is 1.5 billion U.S. dollars with a net profit margin of 2.7 percent.

"More than half of the expected profit is from the Asia-Pacific region, which totaled 7.7 billion U.S. dollars, and China has made great contributions by continuing to increase earnings expectations this year," said Bisignani

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Greek Public Transport Workers Hold Second Strike Amid Wage Cuts

Public transport in Athens and train services across Greece shut down for a second 24-hour strike in less than a week as the government prepare to push through wage cuts to meet pledges in a 110 billion-euro ($147 billion) bailout package.

The metro in the Greek capital, used by 620,000 people every day, along with buses, trolleys and trams, won’t run at all today. Intercity trains are also canceled. The strike will be repeated on Dec. 16 and follows a series of walkouts since Dec. 8. ADEDY, the largest public-sector union, and General Confederation of Labor, or GSEE, Greece’s biggest private- industry union, will hold a three-hour walkout today, before a planned common strike tomorrow.

Public transport employees wages will be trimmed at least 10 percent under a bill to be voted on in parliament later today as Prime Minister George Papandreou deepens cuts to meet targets under the European Union-led rescue package.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Qantas repairs drip shields after mid-air failure

An aeroplane carrying more than 350 people made an emergency landing at Bangkok airport.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released its last report today and found the aircraft lost electrical power because drip shields failed to stop overflowing water entering electrical equipment.

The water affected cabin lighting and the aeroplane's communication navigation, including autopilot.

Qantas was also advised to develop its maintenance process which failed to pick up on the equipment deteriorating.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

SpaceX Reaches First Milestone for Commercial Space Transport

A privately constructed spacecraft has successfully lauched into orbit around world and returned after several hours.

Space exploration company SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft propelled from Florida's Cape Canaveral in the United States on Wednesday morning.

NASA's official website reported the launch and SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk as saying: "There's so much that can go wrong and it all went correct ... I'm sort of in semi-shock."

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Greek Public Transport Workers Go on Strike Against Salary Cuts

Public transport in Athens and train services across Greece are shut down today as state workers protest against salary cuts in wages and bonuses and the reorganization of state-controlled companies.

The metro, used by 620,000 Athenians every day, along with buses, trolleys and trams, will not work all day according to a spokesman at the Athens Urban Transport Organization, who declined to be named. Intercity trains were also canceled, according to an e-mailed statement from Hellenic Railways.

The metro system usually operates from 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. and is the main link between the city center and Athens International Airport. The strike will not affect operations at the airport or ferry services at the port of Piraeus.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Delta Air Lines CEO to Chair Air Transport Association Board

The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry trade association representing the leading U.S. airlines, announced today that Delta Air Lines CEO Richard H. Anderson has been elected chairman of the ATA Board of Directors. Southwest Airlines Chairman of the Board, President and CEO Gary C. Kelly was named vice chairman.

"Richard Anderson is a best leader and a proven chief executive, with the necessary credentials to further propel the mission of ATA as it faces the challenges and priorities in this next Congress," said ATA President and CEO James C. May. "Richard Anderson, Gary Kelly and incoming ATA President and CEO Nick Calio will complement each other as the association's board representatives with the administration and the latest Congress."

"I look forward to working cooperatively with the administration, Congress and regulatory agencies to advance initiatives that support continued improvements in the financial health of the U.S. aviation industry and maintain our focus on safety," said Anderson. "Airlines are a vital industry in the U.S. and give 11 million jobs annually. Our association's focus is to move tax and regulatory oversight in a direction that fosters growth and makes us an even stronger economic engine for America."

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Nissan’s Two-Seat Electric Car

Nissan Motor Co. released pictures today of an electric concept car called the New Mobility Concept. The tall, two-seat car that resembles a Smart Fortwo, is part of a broad transportation program the car maker is studying, which includes car-sharing and raised mobility for older drivers.

Nissan, which is about to start selling its Leaf electric sedan later this month, says it is looking closely at the possibilities presented by electric vehicles. The car maker says one proposal under development involves sustainable, efficient and convenient transport tailored for elderly and single households.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

No end in sight to Cape Town train strike

Train users in the Western Cape might have to make alternative travel arrangements as strike by Metrorail employees in the province looks set to continue, union Utatu said on Wednesday.

United Transport and Allied Union general secretary Chris de Vos also warned that it could spread to other provinces if workers’ grievances are not sorted out. He could not say when the strike would stop.

About 600 000 passenger journeys are made on Metrorail trains each day, company spokesperson Riana Scott said.

Commuters only found out about the cancelled trains on Wednesday morning as Metrorail was “unable to inform them before”, Scott told News24.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NET Holdings, Murphy enter Eagle Ford gas transport agreement

A unit of NET Holdings Management LLC executed a long-term, fee-based natural gas transportation contract with Murphy Exploration & Production Co. USA covering a 100,000-acre dedication in the dry gas portion of the Eagle Ford shale.

Eagle Ford Midstream LP, a wholly owned subsidiary of NET, will build a 110-mile gas pipeline primarily delivering pipeline-quality gas to Tilden, Tex., in McMullen County, where it will interconnects with NET's LaSalle Pipeline and Transco Pipeline. LaSalle Pipeline is a 53-mile, 16-in. OD intrastate gas pipeline extending through McMullen, LaSalle, and Frio counties, providing complete gas supply requirements to a 200-Mw power plant. A second phase of the Eagle Ford Midstream pipeline will include deliveries to interstate and intrastate pipelines at the Agua Dulce hub in South Texas.

Eagle Ford Midstream is holding an open season for additional transportation services on its pipeline method. The pipeline's ultimate capacity and delivery points will be determined by customer interest, the company says.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Government invests in railway civil engineering jobs

The transport secretary has announced that the government will spend in a number of civil engineering jobs relating to the overhaul of Britain's railway infrastructure.

Philip Hammond announced that the £6 billion Thameslink development programme, which involves transformative construction work at London's Blackfriars, Farringdon and London Bridge stations, would go ahead in its entirety.

Moreover, civil engineering employment could also benefit from the government's decision to proceed with the electrification of lines between London and Reading, Didcot, Newbury and Oxford and between Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Blackpool.

Mr Hammond asserted: "At a time of severe force on public spending, it would be tempting to cut back on investment in our railways.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Greek Strike Disrupts Public Transport

A three day strike by Greek seamen combined with a three-hour work strike by public and private-sector unions protesting the government's austerity measures disrupted public transport across capital Athens on Thursday.

Coastal ferries and passenger ships remained docked at ports across the country for the second consecutive day after the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation extended its strike for extra 48 hours.

Hundreds of little Greek islanders without airports had no other means of access to the mainland due to the strike that began on Tuesday. The industrial action left medication and food supplies unattended in trucks and containers at ports.

The seamen are demanding job protection, creation of an independent unemployment fund and a two per cent increase in wages.

ADEDY, the main union for public employees, called a three-hour work stoppage beginning 12 noon and a protest rally outside the Parliament. GSEE, Greece's private-sector union representing two million workers, also joined the stir.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Unions: Portugal Strike Halts Factories, Transport

Tens of thousands of employees walked off the job in Portugal Wednesday, idling ports, trains and stores in the biggest strike in three years, part of a union-led protest against government plans to cut public-worker salaries and raise taxes.

The strike comes as Prime Minister Jose Socrates and his socialist government struggles to restore confidence in its economy and avoid becoming a victim of the government-debt crisis that has brought Greece and now Ireland to the brink of economic collapse. Portuguese bonds have taken a beating in current days as investors remain skeptical about the government's ability to slash the budget deficit.

"The country is imposing very harsh measures and the ones who will suffer are the employees, who had nothing to do with making the crisis happen in the first place," said Rita Silva, an official of the opposition Left Bloc, the fourth-biggest party in parliament.

Accompanied by a dozen youngsters banging on drums in central Lisbon, Ms. Silva added that "our salaries and benefits will be cut. Meanwhile banks and bankers maintain to lead their normal lives."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Report: Agents boozed it up while transporting nukes

Federal agents hired to transport nuclear weapons and components sometimes got drunk while on convoy missions, a government watchdog told Monday.

In an incident last year, police detained two agents who went to a bar during an assignment.

The Energy Department inspector general's office reviewed 16 alcohol-related incidents involving agents, candidate-agents and others from the government's Office of Secure Transportation between 2007 through 2009. Nearly 600 federal agents ship nuclear weapons, weapon components and particular nuclear material across the U.S.

Two incidents in particular raised red flags, the report said, because they happened during secure transportation missions while agents checked into local hotels while on extended missions. In these cases, the vehicles were placed in "safe harbor," meaning they were moved to secure locations.

In one case, in 2007, an agent was arrested for public intoxication. The other occurred last year, when police handcuffed and temporarily detained two agents after an incident at a bar.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Air transport group critical of Brazil's airports

Brazil's overburdened airports cannot meet demand and are a "growing disaster" that could embarrass the country during the upcoming Olympic games and World Cup if they aren't improved, the head of the world's top airline association said.

The language used by Giovanni Bisignani, CEO of the International Air Transport Association, to describe Brazil's overwhelmed airports at an industry conference Thursday was some of the harshest criticism yet leveled at the nation on the topic.

"Brazil is Latin America's largest and fastest growing economy but air transport infrastructure is a growing disaster," he told industry leaders at a meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association in Panama. The organization represents 230 airlines around the world.

"To avoid a national embarrassment, Brazil needs bigger and better facilities for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics," Bisignani said. "But I don't see progress and the clock is ticking. The time for debate is over."

Brazil's robust economic growth has resulted in increased demands on air travel. Thirteen of the country's 20 largest domestic airports cannot accommodate existing demand, and the situation is critical in Sao Paulo, South America's biggest international hub, Bisignani said.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Southwest Airlines Attendants Approve New Rules for Larger Boeing Plane

Southwest Airlines Co. flight attendants approved contract revisions that will enable the carrier to buy a larger-model Boeing Co. 737 to carry more passengers on popular routes.

The vote was 3,126 to 569, the Transport Workers Union said in a statement today. The revisions provide for an additional attendant on the 175-seat 737-800 and extend the current contract by one year to 2013.

Southwest, the largest discount carrier, is considering switching existing orders for some 737-700s to the -800, which has 28 percent more seats and is more fuel efficient. The Dallas-based airline is the largest operator of Boeing 737s, the only type of aircraft it flies.

“It’s a vote of confidence in ongoing progress at Southwest,” Thom McDaniel, president of TWU Local 556, said in the statement. “We are fully involved in the growth and expansion of our company.” The union represents 9,700 attendants at the carrier.

The larger plane will let Southwest boost seating capacity even as it holds its fleet of 737s steady, taking new aircraft only as replacements for older ones. Southwest will also be able to pack more passengers on high-demand routes and fly to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Serbia to Spend $380 Million on Transport Infrastructure in 2011

Serbia will require to spend 30 billion dinars ($380 million) next year improving its underdeveloped transport infrastructure, an “essential condition” for more foreign investment and economic growth, said Verica Kalanovic, minister for the country’s national investment plan.

She said that the amount shouldn’t undermine the government’s plan to narrow its plan deficit to 4 percent of gross domestic product, as agreed with the International Monetary Fund.

The ministry plans to co-finance hundreds of projects proposed by other ministries and local governments totaling more than $1.4 billion, Kalanovic said.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Metro-car contract gets final go-ahead

The funding for the Montreal métro-car replacement contract received last approval Tuesday.

Consortium partners Bombardier Transportation and Alstom Transport confirmed the final go-ahead from the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) for the $1.19 billion contract. The contract for the 468 métro cars, or 52 nine-car trainsets, was signed on October 22, 2010.

Bombardier’s share of the contract is $719 million and Alstom’s is $471 million.

Bombardier said the “design, manufacture and final assembly” would be done at its facilities in La Pocatière and Saint-Bruno. Alstom will do some sub-contracting work in Sorel-Tracy and Montreal.

“The first prototype train is to be delivered in June 2013,” the consortium said, “followed by the base order deliveries that are scheduled to take position between February 2014 and September 2018.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Work begins to remove M4 bus lane

Work to remove an unpopular bus lane on a busy motorway near Heathrow Airport is due to start.

The 3.5-mile lane on the M4 west of London was introduced in 1999 by the then Transport Secretary John Prescott.

But it was rarely used and not always enforced and the recent Transport Secretary Philip Hammond announced earlier this autumn that the lane was being suspended until the 2012 London Olympics.

The Highways Agency is set to begin work, with traffic expected to be able to use the lane later this week.

Mr Hammond said: "Scrapping the M4 bus lane is symbolic of this Government's decision to end the war on the motorist.

"It ends the injustice suffered by thousands of drivers who sit in traffic next to an empty lane day in day out.

"We will monitor the suspension over the next 18 months, but my intention is to scrap the lane permanently after the London 2012 Olympics are over."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

US transport panel urges 15-cent fuel tax hike

One way to bite into the U.S.'s massive deficit is to hike oil taxes, President Obama has been advised.

According to the Journal of Commerce, Obama's deficit cutting panel delivered plans for transportation policy that includes a gradual 15-cent raise in federal fuel taxes.

The bipartisan panel said in a draft statement that there should include increases in the per-gallon "gasoline tax" starting in 2013.

Fuel taxes that go into the Highway Trust Fund include fees on diesel fuel, the Journal notes, but the combined taxes are often described simply as gas taxes.

The proposal may face headwinds, however. Obama, himself, is on the record as being against raising fuel taxes while the economy is still fragile.

Republicans on that panel are more focused on slashing expenses on federal programs to cover transport requirements.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Boris Johnson unveils Ballymena built double-decker

The latest bus, which will be manufactured by Wrightbus, will go into service in London in time for the 2012 Olympics.

A life-size mock-up of the double-decker was unveiled at the London Transport Museum's depot at Acton on Thursday.

Wrightbus was awarded the tender in December.

The Mayor has been a long time champion of London's famous Routemaster bus which is the inspiration for the design.

"Standing on the rear platform of this delectable bus brings back a sense of nostalgia but conversely also demonstrates the quintessence of the newest technology and design, making this bus fit for 21st century London," he said.

"It is wonderful to see how those two-dimensional designs we unveiled in May have been forged into this amazing bus and I for one cannot wait to be launching the buses when they first enter traveler service in 2012."

The new bus will have an open platform similar to the old Routemaster buses and will see the return of the traditional hop-on-hop-off service.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

American, Japan airlines antitrust immunity approved

American Airlines and Japan Airlines have been granted last approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation for antitrust immunity in their plan for cooperative flying between North America and Asia,officials said Wednesday.

DOT's approval clears the way for the two airlines to launch their trans-Pacific joint business in early 2011, airline executives said. The combo will offer travelers additional travel options and greater flexibility, the executives said.

"We appreciate the thorough review that DOT has given our request for antitrust immunity that will allow us to move forward with our cooperative business," said Tom Horton, president of Fort Worth-based American. "We also look forward to officials from the United States government and the government of Japan signing an Open Skies agreement, which will allow for additional flights between the United States and Japan."

The DOT approval follows that by Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and gives the foundation for the two airlines' joint business agreement.

"We would like to express our gratitude to everyone involved in making this positive decision, and will from hence, go ... towards creating more benefits for our passengers, our companies, our financial supporters and our countries," said Masaru Onishi, president of Japan Airlines.

American plans to start its new nonstop daily service between New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Tokyo's Haneda International Airport on Jan. 20.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

German nuclear waste train gets by protests

A train carrying nuclear waste to northern Germany has reached its destination, despite more than 3,000 protesters trying to stop it during its three day-trip from France.

The train, with 14 cars, arrived Monday in the town of Dannenberg with 123 tonnes of nuclear waste.

The waste will transported by truck and be stored in a salt mine in the city of Gorleben, between Hamburg and Berlin. The trucks are expected to meet additional protesters.

During the trip, police used tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons to stop protesters, who held sit-ins on the tracks and attempted to sabotage the rail by removing the gravel bed.

Police say removed about 3,000 protesters from the tracks Monday about 30 kilometres from Dannenberg.

Activists say the waste containers and the temporary storage site in Gorleben are not safe.

They have called the train "Chernobyl on wheels."

CBC reporter Ann MacMillan said the transportation of nuclear waste is always contentious in Germany, but is more so this time because earlier this year the German government reneged on a promise to shut down the country's nuclear power plants by 2021, instead moving the shutdown date to 2033.

"That decision has infuriated many voters and makes this particular shipment of nuclear waste a focus for the discontent," she said.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Leeds transport chief renews plea to ease rail overcrowding

The transport secretary should visit Leeds to experience the epidemic of overcrowding on the city's trains, a transport chief has said today.

Longer rail franchises and a fairer distribution of government transport funding are among the answers to rail overcrowding, said Metro Chairman Chris Greaves today.

Responding to a report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee that says overcrowding on trains in West Yorkshire will increase beyond already unacceptable overcrowding levels, Greaves said that franchises of 15 to 20 years would provide the incentive for rail operators to invest in new carriages.

Greaves told BBC Radio's Five Live that according to the Department for Transport's own figures, since 2004 the Leeds City Region has seen growth in rail users of 34%, the highest in the country.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Largest mobilization ever against CASTOR nuclear transport

Right now in Germany we are witnessing an unprecedented mass mobilization against radioactive waste and against the operational extension of 17 nuclear reactors in the country by an average of 12 years. This anti-CASTOR (Cask for Storage and Transport of Radioactive material) mobilization is the largest Germany has seen, and includes both the young and the old, farmers and politicians, environmental and youth groups. It is truly a grassroots movement, united behind one goal: saying 'Nein Danke' -'No thank you' - to nuclear energy.

I had the honour of addressing this movement at a rally yesterday where I was particularly moved by the inter-generational nature of the crowd. Whole families turned out in solidarity with local residents who have been protesting against radioactive nuclear waste for the past thirty years. This year the demonstrations have escalated because of the decision taken by Chancellor Merkel, and her government, to cancel the legally set deadline for the phase out of nuclear power in Germany.

In my address at the rally yesterday I called on her to end nuclear madness and to ensure that Germany is remembered for its leadership in a real energy revolution rather than remembered for backsliding into an outdated obsolete atomic age. Germany does not need nuclear energy and is a global leader in renewable energy - currently employing 380,000 people.

The CASTOR nuclear waste transport is an example of the nuclear madness that must end. It is a train convoy carrying eleven 100-tonne containers of radioactive waste that is reprocessed in France and returns to Germany each year for storage. Measurements of these eleven containers done by ANDRA (National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management) show that the radioactivity in each container is higher than what was released at Chernobyl in 1986 - this makes the CASTOR transport effectively a Chernobyl on wheels.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Transport bosses work to reduce strike disruption

The newest in a series of strikes on the Tube is due to begin on Tuesday evening but transport chiefs have promised to keep London moving.

Extra bus and river services are being put on, while some roadworks are being delayed for the period of the 24 hour industrial action.

Canary Wharf Group said it will have additional bike spaces in Cabot Square and extra staff advising people of the best routes to take.

However, for cars, it has said those without parking permits should, as a precaution, not drive to work as the car parks in Canary Wharf will give priority to those with permits.

Thames Clippers is putting on additional boats for the strike.

Mayor Boris Johnson said: "The action of the union leaderships may cause some inconvenience but we are determined to continue the capital moving by providing a plethora of alternatives so that people can get around."

The TSSA union, meanwhile, accused the Mayor of playing a 'poor man's Churchill' and going against his election pledge of keeping Tube ticket offices open.

Unions say 650 ticket office jobs, as well as 150 station managers, are under threat over the plans

Friday, October 29, 2010

Airline workers seek union

Flight attendants at Allegiant Air have filed a petition with the federal National Mediation Board, seeking union representation with the Transport Workers Union of America.

The Las Vegas-based low-cost carrier that links Medford to Arizona, Nevada and Southern California has about 420 flight attendants. Allegiant attendants would become the first employee group at the airline with a union contract if they vote in the Transport Workers Union.

TWU has more than 9,400 flight attendants at Southwest Airlines and that number will be bolstered by an additional 2,200 flight attendants who now work at AirTran once the announced acquisition of AirTran by Southwest becomes final.

"We love our company and we are proud to be a part of the Allegiant success story," said Loren Edge, an Allegiant Air flight attendant in a statement released by the TWU. "We are not anti-company; we are pro-flight attendant."

Allegiant Air flight attendants filed their petition for a union election on Wednesday with The National Mediation Board, which supervises union representation elections at commercial airlines and railroads. Federal law requires an election be scheduled within 45 days.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

White House stokes high-speed rail

The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced an additional $2.4 billion in grants for high-speed rail projects throughout the country.

In 2009, the DOT provided $8 billion of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money for high-speed rail projects. The funding announced today by DOT Secretary Ray LaHood will go to 54 rail projects in 23 states.

The funding is part of the Obama administration's commitment to develop America's first nationwide program of high-speed intercity passenger rail service, federal officials said.

Currently, the "Acela Express" of Amtrak, which runs between Boston and Washington D.C., is the only high-speed rail line in the U.S.

DOT's Federal Railroad Administration received 132 applications from 32 states totaling $8.8 billion, more than three times the $2.4 billion available. During the first round of awards in the fall of 2009, applicants submitted more than $55 billion in project proposals for the initial $8 billion, officials said.

"Demand for high-speed rail dollars is intense and it demonstrates just how important this historic initiative is," said Secretary LaHood. "States understand that high-speed rail represents a unique opportunity to create jobs, revitalize our manufacturing base, spur economic development and provide people with an environmentally friendly transportation option."

More than 30 rail manufacturers and suppliers, both domestic and foreign, have agreed to establish or expand their bases of operations in the United States if they are hired to build America's next generation high-speed lines, a commitment the Obama Administration secured to help ensure new jobs are created here at home, LaHood said.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Canada Follows U.S. Lead on Fuel Efficiency Standards

As expected, Canada has announced plans to follow the U.S. lead in developing CO2 emissions standards - fuel economy standards - for medium and heavy vehicles.

Jim Prentice, Canada's Environment Minister, released a consultation document outlining the proposed elements of the future regulations to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from new heavy-duty vehicles.

"Canada and the United States have had great achievement in working together to reduce emissions from new light-duty vehicles, and we are looking forward to doing the same for heavy-duty vehicles," said Prentice.

The Regulatory Framework consultation document outlines the major elements of the planned regulations in order to seek early views from stakeholders, which will be taken into account in developing proposed regulations which are expected to be available in mid-2011. Canada's heavy-duty vehicle regulations will be aligned with those of the United States.

Canadian truckers are concerned that if Canada adopts U.S. standards word for word, the targets will not be met by sectors hauling heavier loads than is presently the practice. Canada allows combinations of eight axles or more with gross vehicle weights exceeding 140,000 pounds in some cases. The U.S. proposed standards appear designed for 80,000-pound, five-axle combinations.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rail strikes hit German regional, local transport

Walkouts have affected rail journey in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt and Lower Saxony, unions GDBA and Transnet said, adding that the temporary warning strikes would hit almost all of Germany's other states.

The unions have said the action will maintain during the week to back their demand that national operator Deutsche Bahn and private operators improve their offers in wage negotiations that have reached an impasse.

They are demanding wage agreements to be set across the industry so that operators cannot utilize lower pay to boost their competitiveness in bids to win lucrative rail contracts.

They say private operators pay up to 20 percent less for the similar work.

Monday, October 25, 2010

U.S. to propose first fuel standards for trucks

Future tractor-trailers, school buses, delivery vans, garbage trucks and heavy-duty pickup trucks must perform better at the pump under first-ever fuel efficiency rules coming from the Obama administration.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation division are moving ahead with a proposal for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, beginning with those sold in the 2014 model year and into the 2018 model year.

The plan is expected to seek about a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption from longhaul trucks, according to people well-known with the plan. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to speak publicly before the official announcement, expected Monday.

Overall, the proposal is expected to seek reductions of 10 percent to 20 percent in fuel consumption and emissions based on the vehicle's range. Large tractor-trailers tend to be driven up to 150,000 miles a year, making them ripe for improved miles per gallon.

The rules will cover large rig tractor-trailers, "vocational trucks" such as garbage trucks and transit and school buses, and work trucks such as heavy-duty versions of the Ford F-Series, Dodge Ram and Chevrolet Silverado.

The White House has pushed for tougher fuel economy standards across the nation's fleet as a method to reduce dependence on oil and cut greenhouse gas emissions tied to global warming.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mitsubishi's electric vehicles to be tested in Canada

Transport Canada is joining with Mitsubishi Canada to test two of the Japanese group's i-MIEV (innovative electric vehicles) in government facilities and also in real-world situation.
Road handling, performance and range results will help experts to assess the environmentalbenefitsof e-vehicle technologies in Canada.
Mitsubushi said it already has test agreements with Hydro-Quebec, the city of Boucherville, BC Hydro and the city of Vancouver, and federal government support is an important step toward achieving a cleaner environment.
The Mitsubishi e-vehicle seats four people and has a 330-volt lithium-ion battery powering a 63-horsepower electric motor. The battery can be recharged on standard household 110-and 220-volt sockets or commercial quick charger. Its maximum range is 120 kilometres on a single charge.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

London transport prices to rise next year

Mayor of London Boris Johnson yesterday quietly confirmed that from 2 January 2011, fares on London's tubes, buses, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway and trams will rise.

The Mayor was quick to add that the rise will be at the level signalled last year and is the minimum to secure investment in London's transport network.

It will rise at an average of RPI (retail price index inflation) plus 2%, opposed to the RPI plus 3% on Britain's railway network.

Basing this on July's RPI figures of 4.8%, this represents an average 6.8% fare increase across TfL services and oyster pay as you go.

But in some cases, costs could go up more quickly. Products like the zone 2-6 one day travelcard will be permanently withdrawn.

This means travellers, who usually buy this type of travelcard, will have to buy a 1-6 zone travelcard instead – meaning a jump from £8.60 to £15 during peak times. That's an increase of 74%. Off-peak, it's a rise from £5.10 to £8.00 – a jump of 57%.

This could also mean a double whammy for rail commuters who also only use the tube for zones 2-6 – they will meet the tube increase and the rail increases, which could add a significant amount to the price of their annual ticket.

On the buses, Oyster pay as you go fares will increase again, this time by 10p to £1.30 for a single journey - cash fares will go up from £2 to £2.20.

The cost of purchasing an Oyster card is also set to rise, from £3 to £5.

It comes as the spending review yesterday axed the transport budget by 21%. This means Department for Transport's (DfT) budget has been reduced by £2.17bn in total over the four years. But the Mayor is adamant that key London transport projects will remain.

Approximately one-third of TfL's funding comes from a direct grant from the DfT.

TfL claim that the rises are necessary to upgrade of the Tube and construction of Crossrail, which together TfL say will add 30% capacity to London's rail transport network and provide a £78bn boost to the UK economy.

Boris Johnson said: 'Last year, I made it clear that when setting fares my priority is to protect the elderly, the young, the poorest and disabled Londoners and this fares package will continue to do so, particularly at a time when many need that protection.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mitsubishi Motors and Yamato Transport Start Light Commercial Electric Vehicle Field Testing for Collection/Delivery Operations

Yamato Transport Co., Ltd. (Yamato Transport) and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announced that they have started field trying for parcel collection and delivery operations with the use of a prototype light commercial electric vehicle (EV) built by MMC.

Yamato Transport is working to decrease environmental burden in all areas of its express home delivery operations through a series of initiatives which include: restricting the size of its delivery vehicle fleet; introducing low-emission delivery vehicles; promoting eco-friendly driving habits; reducing driving distances and promoting modal shift*.

The Yamato Transport fleet comprises around 45,000 vehicles moreover the company is intent on contributing to the realization of a low-carbon society through the active introduction of next-generation eco-friendly vehicles. (As at the end of March 2010, the fleet included 11,538 low-emission vehicles, of which 4,659 use hybrid propulsion systems.)

MMC is the pioneering manufacturer in the field of mass-produced electric vehicles. The company launched the i-MiEV new-generation electric vehicle to the Japanese market in July 2009 targeting corporate, government and local authorities. In April of this year MMC started sales of i-MiEV to individual owners.

The EV is the ultimate eco-car because its zero CO2 tailpipe emissions allow it to effectively address such environmental issues as air pollution, global warming and the shift away from oil. By adding a light commercial vehicle to its EV lineup - which, unit for unit, clock longer life-cycle driving distances than passenger cars - MMC is aiming to do its part to quickly make possible a low-carbon society.

Yamato Transport has been studying the use of commercial EVs which, of all next-generation vehicles, hold high promise for making possible a low-carbon society, and together with MMC, which has been pushing ahead the development and manufacture of electric commercial vehicles, has agreed to work in conducting a program of collection/delivery field tests using a light commercial EV.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

'Fat' Blackpool bus drivers dispute resolved

Talks began on Monday and ended on Tuesday with Blackpool Transport and the drivers' union Unite saying it would not create any further comment.

The men had been suspended on complete pay after being told they needed to lose 7lbs (3kg) in the next four weeks.

The firm had said it was performing in the interests of passenger safety.
Unite had warned that if the men were not reinstated it could ballot members for industrial action.

A statement from Blackpool Transport said: "After extensive negotiations the issue relating to the two individuals concerned has been resolved amicably.

"The trade union and management wish to ensure the confidentiality and dignity of those involved and have no further comment to make."

Blackpool Transport is an arm's length body of Blackpool Council and provides transport on the Fylde Coast.

Unite says it has 400 members at the company.

Monday, October 18, 2010

London 2012 transport plans come under scrutiny

London Assembly Members are to investigate the ability of the capital’s transport network to cope with the expected half a million Olympic spectators, in addition to getting Londoners around town and to work as common.

Visitors to the 2012 Games are to be “encouraged” to use public transport which will increase pressure on Transport for London’s services with the bus and Tube networks.

The committee’s findings will used to “inform” the third edition of the Olympic Delivery Authority’s 2012 Transport Plan which is due for publication next spring.

As part of their investigation, AMs on the Assembly’s Transport Committee will hold two public meetings in November and January and take evidence from the ODA.

AMs will also examine plans to create an ‘Olympic Route Network’ which will restrict the use of some roads and routes to athletes, officials and media.

Transport Committee Chair Val Shawcross AM said: “The transport network will come under a lot of pressure – and the international spotlight – so we need to get it right to ensure the success of the London 2012 Games.”

Friday, October 15, 2010

Australia Asks US To Approve Delta, Virgin Blue Airline Pact

The Australian government has formally asked U.S. officials to reverse their opposition to an alliance between Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. (VBA.AU) and Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL).

The U.S. Transportation Department last month said it planned to deny an application for antitrust immunity that would have allowed the airlines to cooperate on pricing, revenue management and marketing on trans-Pacific routes.

Australian competition officials approved the tie last December. The country's deputy transport secretary, Andrew Wilson, this week asked the Department of Transportation to approve the application, according to a regulatory filing.

Wilson said it was "extremely rare" for such applications to be rejected, and said the Delta-Virgin plan was consistent with the open-skies aviation treaty between the countries.

The case is being closely watched as it involves an airline outside of the three global alliances that dominate the global airline industry. Regulators have approved numerous antitrust applications involving members of the SkyTeam, Star and Oneworld groupings.

Delta is a member of SkyTeam, and has antitrust immunity with a number of European and Asian alliance partners, while Virgin Blue is unaffiliated.

U.S. officials said last month that the carriers hadn't demonstrated that the proposed alliance would produce sufficient public benefits, such as lower fares and increased capacity, to justify an exemption from U.S. antitrust laws.

Delta and Virgin Blue this week submitted additional information in support of their application.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tarmac delays improved in August

Airlines in the US have slashed tarmac delays in August.

Figures released from the Department of Transport show that US airline delays dropped sharply in August compared to a year ago.

In August 2009, passengers stranded on runways when 66 flights with passengers on board were stranded for more than 3 hours of waiting time.

In August 2010, there was only one such incident, according to the DOT, even though there was no change in the rate of cancelled flights.

There is now a DOT maximum for tarmac delays.

A new rule says passengers must be allowed off the plane if it is delayed for 3 hours or more.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Qatar Gas Transport Profit Rises 50% as Vessel Revenue Doubles

Qatar Gas Transport Co., the liquefied natural gas transporter known as Nakilat, posted a 50 percent gain in third-quarter profit after revenue from vessels it owns more than doubled.

Net income for the third quarter rose to 172.2 million riyals ($47.3 million) from 114.5 million riyals a year earlier, based on Bloomberg calculations. The mean estimate of two analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for a third-quarter net income of 209.5 million riyals.

Nine-month profit rose to 501.9 million riyals, or 0.91 riyal a share, from 347.9 million riyals, or 0.63 a share, the company said in a statement posted on the Qatar Exchange today. Third-quarter earnings were calculated by subtracting first-half profit from the nine-month figure.

Revenue from wholly owned vessels rose to 1.99 billion riyals from 952 million riyals a year earlier. The company took delivery in July of Rasheedaa, a Q-Max liquefied natural gas tanker, and the last of 54 vessels on order including 25 wholly owned LNG tankers.

Chief Executive Officer Muhammad Ghannam said last year his company would be able to transport 18 percent of the world’s LNG volumes when all ships are in operation. The company is also venturing into ship construction and dry-dock operation.

Qatar, the world’s biggest producer of LNG, plans to increase its annual capacity to 77 million tons by early next year with the start of the last two of 14 liquefaction plants. LNG is gas cooled to a liquid for transport by ship.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Air Transport Association to Participate in Fourth Annual Energy Day

The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, along with members of the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), are uniting today for Energy Day 2010.

This year's Energy Day, the fourth of its kind, will be a sustainability forum in which CEA affiliates, industry stakeholders and leading experts discuss how their respective sectors have advanced initiatives aimed at boosting energy efficiency, conservation and sustainability.

ATA participation in Energy Day provides another opportunity to highlight the airline industry's latest sustainability efforts. U.S. airlines remain committed to an ambitious list of goals to address climate change, including:

* Improving fuel efficiency by an annual average of 1.5 percent per year through 2020
* Achieving carbon-neutral growth from 2020 (subject to industry and government support for critical aviation infrastructure and technology)
* Reducing CO2 emissions by 50 percent by 2050, relative to 2005 levels

"ATA applauds CEA for hosting Energy Day 2010, which continues to advance energy-efficiency, sustainability and conservation goals – goals that are shared by the airlines," said ATA President and CEO James C. May.

ATA member airlines have improved their fuel efficiency by 110 percent since the late 1970s – saving more than 2.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking approximately 19 million cars off the road each of those years. Additionally, ATA continues its role as a founding and leading member of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), a consortium of airlines, manufacturers, airports, energy producers, researchers and government agencies dedicated to the development and deployment of environmentally preferred, affordable alternative fuels.

In conjunction with Energy Day 2010, CEA will be releasing its 2010 sustainability report, "Private Sector Leadership in Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Sustainability." This report outlines the need for sustainability to be incorporated into a rational energy policy, and advocates increased domestic energy production and greater use of renewable and alternative energy. The CEA report is available online at "Sustainability Report 2010: Private Sector Leadership in Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Sustainability"

CEA is a coalition of agriculture, manufacturing, trucking, airline (including ATA), small business, energy producers and municipal governments focusing on sustainability and promoting an "all of the above" approach in developing American energy security.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Commercial electric cars replace transport pods plan

Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Government's clean energy company, has put its plan for futuristic transport pods on the back-burner and will instead turn to commercial electric cars, executives said yesterday.

The personal rapid transport (PRT) system, a network of driverless electric vehicles, is in use at the Masdar Institute, the first stage of the city that was completed last month. But the technology would require further development to meet the needs of later stages of the city, said Dr Sultan al Jaber, the chief executive of Masdar.

"We're big believers in this technology," he said. "But today does it meet our requirements moving forward? No, not as it is today. "Has the PRT matured over the past three years? Absolutely. But the way to get it from where it is today at the Masdar project to where we want it to be, is going to take a little bit more time than our own design."Today we have access to electric vehicles that have developed very quickly over the past three years."

The emerging electric vehicle industry has accelerated, with the release of two battery-powered cars, the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf, due before the end of the year. Dr al Jaber confirmed that Masdar had begun talks with Daimler to co-operate on electric cars and said it would make use of developments by other UAE-based companies focused on clean technology, including Aabar, the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, known as Taqa, and IPIC. Alan Frost, the director of Masdar City, said the project ought to make use of these mass-market technologies instead of developing its own networks. "For Masdar to be a true learning experience it needs to be innovative but it also needs to be tapping into what's available in all the rest of the world," he said.

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Friday, October 08, 2010

RAAF to get new Airbus tanker, capable of carrying cargo, troops or refuelling

The RAAF has provisionally accepted one of a five-aircraft order with two more of the advanced tanker planes to be delivered by mid-November, a spokesman for Australian Aerospace told The Australian Online.

The wide-body aircraft have been specially modified for air-to-air refuelling and personnel transport.

To be known as the KC-30A, the latest addition to the RAAF's fleet will be able to carry 45 tonnes of cargo or 300 troops, in addition to refuelling fast jets using two underwing hose and drogue pods.

“This is an enormously gratifying moment for all. It confirms the A330 MRTT has satisfactorily demonstrated its global military airworthiness and the maturity of all its systems, and its full readiness to enter service with its customers,” Airbus Military said in a statement.

The aircraft, regarded as the most advanced of its type in the world, has also been ordered by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Britain.

Aircraft delivery was delayed due to a non-contract request by the RAAF for the installation of two interior consoles for the boom operators.

One other hurdle has to be overcome - installation of the plane's self-defence measures, work the US government says must be done in America due to sensitivity about the cutting-edge technology.

Defence hopes that like Britain, the federal government will be able to convince Washington to have the installation work completed in Australia.