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