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Friday, May 30, 2008

Tom Harris appoints Ron Culley as Member of the British Transport Police Authority

The Transport Minister, Tom Harris, today announced the appointment of Ron Culley as a Member of the British Transport Police (BTP) Authority.

Ron Culley has been appointed for four years from 1 June 2008. Remuneration will be £14,881 per annum for a time commitment of 30 days per annum.

Educated at the University of Strathclyde, since 2006 Ron Culley has been Chief Executive of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport which is responsible, among other things, for running Glasgow's underground railway. He is involved in the comprehensive redevelopment of the Glasgow Underground railway system and was responsible for developing the Glasgow Airport Rail Link, transferring the task of construction to Transport Scotland in April 2008. He lives in the suburbs of Glasgow with his wife and two young sons.

This is not Ron Culley's first public appointment. He is currently a Board Member with the Glasgow Economic Forum and of The Wise Group and receives no remuneration in respect of any of these appointments. He was previously a member of the Police Advisory Board of Scotland and was a Governor of the Scottish Police Academy.

All members of the British Transport Police Authority are appointed in accordance with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees' political activity (if any declared) to be made public. Ron Culley has declared that in 1999 he stood as a prospective parliamentary candidate for the first Scottish Parliament on behalf of the Scottish Labour Party. He was not elected and has not been active in politics since.


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Thursday, May 29, 2008

New campaign highlights lasting damage of Drink Driving

The lasting impact of drink driving is highlighted in a new THINK! campaign launched today by Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick.

The £1.6m summer campaign with new radio adverts emphasises that a drink drive conviction stays on your licence for 11 years - affecting your job prospects and serving as a constant reminder of the 12-month driving ban you received for driving while over the limit.

Jim Fitzpatrick said:

"Drink drivers put themselves and others in serious danger, but getting behind the wheel after drinking can have a devastating impact on your life even if you avoid a crash. You'll get a minimum 12-month driving ban and a large fine - and the record will stay on your licence for 11 years.

"As the weather gets warmer we all want to be out enjoying ourselves and might end up drinking when we hadn't planned to, but that doesn't mean we have to drive home. If you've had a drink use public transport or take a taxi - otherwise that quick pint might end up lasting 11 long years."

The new THINK! adverts highlight just how long a drink drive conviction stays on your licence by pointing out what else you will do in the 11 years. For example:

* Your heart will beat 400,000,000 times
* You'll breathe enough air to fill 20 hot air balloons
* You'll eat enough potatoes to fill 6 phone boxes
* You'll drink 36 bathtubs full of water
* You'll climb enough stairs to ascend Mt Everest twice
* You'll sweat enough to fill 1,612 fish tanks.

As well as the new radio adverts and in-pub advertising the summer drink drive campaign features TV and cinema advertising and a partnership marketing campaign. It runs from June 2 to August 10.


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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

U.S. Transportation Secretary Peters Announces Opening of Military Airspace for Memorial Day Weekend Flights, Other Measures to Reduce Flight Delays

Air travelers are getting some relief from the military this Memorial Day Weekend thanks to a new agreement to make military airspace available for commercial airline flights off the East Coast, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters announced today.

"This airspace will give travelers yet another reason to thank the military this Memorial Day weekend," Secretary Peters said. "It gives airlines a fighting chance to beat delays by allowing them to plan new routes in one of the most congestion aviation corridors on the country."

The Secretary said that the Department of Defense is making airspace available off the eastern seaboard for commercial airline flights starting at 6 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 23rd. The space will be available continuously until 7 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 27th. She noted that the arrangement follows similar openings of military airspace for last year's Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons.

Secretary Peters added that travelers also are likely to benefit from other steps being taken by the Department of Transportation to reduce air travel delays. She noted, for example, that the Department is pursuing a plan at all three New York airports that combines caps and auctions to reduce congestion while keeping fares low.

She added that the Department's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expanding a program to help airlines avoid delays by adjusting air traffic routes to respond to weather developments. "Even though we can't manage the weather, this program allows us to work around weather conditions and keep traffic moving," said acting FAA Administrator Robert Sturgell.

Secretary Peters also noted that the agency was putting in place a new program that cuts delays by using advance software to scan airports for unused take off and landing "slots." She added that the FAA was also continuing to make a number of new airspace routes available in the New York region to help address chronic aviation backups in the region.


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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

50% of parents pass on dangerous road habits

THINK! launches roadshow to highlight dangers of copycat behaviour

Parents will be given a dramatic insight into how their own behaviour on the road can pass dangerous habits on to their children as Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick today launches a series of innovative workshops in schools across England.

This comes as new Government research shows that 54% of parents admit to participating in poor road safety behaviour in front of their children.

Launching the roadshow at Burdett Coutts and Townshend Church of England Primary School in Westminster, London, Jim Fitzpatrick said:

"Although we have made good progress by halving the number of children killed or injured on our roads over the last decade, there is still more to do. Last year 169 children were killed and another 3,000 seriously injured in road accidents so I am determined that we continue to do everything we can to make our roads safer.

"Simply telling our children about how to use our roads safely is not enough - parents must practise what they preach or their sons and daughters will slip into dangerous habits."

The Child's Eye View: Practical Parenting in Road Safety sessions, part of the Department for Transport's THINK! campaign, will urge parents to think about their behaviour and ensure they set a good example to their children in the future. Giant props - including oversized cars and zebra crossings - will help parents see the road through the eyes of an eight-year-old and better understand road safety from their child's perspective.

The roadshow will run throughout June with experts offering parents easy-to-follow tips and advice on how to address the issue of road safety with their children.

Liz Brooker from the Local Authority Road Safety Officer's Organisation (LARSOA) led the first session, providing expert information and advice on learning techniques and child development.

She said:

"Copycat learning is one of the key ways children form skills and establish their behaviour, so setting a bad example when it comes to road safety can have serious consequences.

"LARSOA is constantly working with parents in the community to improve road safety for children and we are all looking forward to the Child's Eye View roadshow sessions to reach even more parents and hopefully make the roads safer for everyone ."

The road show will run throughout June, with the following schools participating:

* 4th June - Weetwood Primary School, Leeds
* 11th June - St Paul's and St Timothy's Infant School, Liverpool
* 18th June - Milecastle Primary School, Newcastle
* 25th June - Anderton Park, Birmingham
* 26th June - Barton Hill Primary School, Bristol

Attendees will also receive a copy of the Parent's Manual to Road Safety with further tips, advice and information.


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Driver Testing and Training to be overhauled

New proposals to reform the way people learn to drive and how they are tested have today been announced by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly.

Road deaths and serious injuries have fallen by 33since the mid 1990s, but the casualty rate for young drivers has not changed. One in five people have an accident within six months of passing their test, and another 70% report near- misses in the same period. Alongside this newly-qualified drivers and their passengers account for one in five of all car deaths in Britain.

The aim of the consultation is to create safer drivers for life by strengthening the current learning and testing procedures, and creating a culture of extended and advanced learning. This follows extensive discussions with young people, employers, driving instructors and the insurance industry.

A foundation course in safe road use for under 17 years olds will be piloted in schools and colleges in Scotland from this Autumn. This will lead to a qualification that will be available across Great Britain.

For the first time there will be a syllabus to ensure more effective and comprehensive training is offered to learner drivers. This will set out more clearly the necessary steps to driving safely - beginning with the basics of car control, progressing to skills such as driving in difficult weather or at night and culminating in ensuring driver awareness is enhanced, to help novice drivers predict the intentions of other road users. This will help more learners to pass first time as safe and responsible drivers.

We want to create a culture in which the driving test is a milestone towards lifelong learning. Employers and insurers should have greater confidence in the driving abilities of those who have undertaken further training, and so we will work with them to develop proposals for post test courses and qualifications that produce safer drivers, and that they are prepared to reward. Examples of this could include a new advanced training qualification, a course in motorway driving or vocational qualifications such as for van drivers.



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Sunday, May 25, 2008

More capacity and better services for passengers on South Central Franchise

Rail passengers in the South London, Surrey and Sussex are set to benefit from 10% more capacity across the South Central franchise area and significant service improvements under proposals outlined by Rail Minister Tom Harris MP today.

The proposals are part of the consultation document that details the services that the future operator of the South Central franchise will run. The South Central franchise will comprise services currently run by Southern and will include Gatwick Express services and the Redhill - Tonbridge route currently operated by Southeastern.

It outlines extra capacity, smartcards rolled out throughout the franchise area, safer stations and better environmental performance of the franchise. Views are also being sought on whether fares and performance could be linked.

It also states that the winner of the franchise must help facilitate important projects like the East London Line Extension and the £5.5bn Thameslink Programme, both of which will provide a significant increase in capacity in and through London.

Proposals include:

* Around 25% more capacity on most routes in South London where trains will be extended from 8 - 10 carriages,

* More than 3,700 additional seats in and out of London at the busiest times because of retained doubling of peak time express trains between Brighton and London Victoria in the high peak. Two extra trains between Redhill and London at peak times will also be retained. These services will start later this year

* Later services - Last services from Central London to places such as Sutton, Tulse Hill and Crystal Palace at around 0030 compared to 2330 or midnight today. Later services will also operate on the Uckfield route

* Smartcards across the franchise area, including provision for Oyster Pay as You Go Commuter

* Fares - regulated fare increases capped at RPI+1%. Views are being sought on how fares could made simpler, as well as how they could be linked to performance

* Safer stations - including extended hours of staffing, gating of around 30 stations and enhanced CCTV across the franchise

* A new Sunday service between Brighton and Southampton

* Better facilities for travel to stations - Around 1,000 more car parking and around 1,000 cycle parking spaces

* Greener travel - a 10% reduction in non-traction electricity supply and better environmental performance

Rail Minister Tom Harris said;

"Passengers are central to our proposals. That is why we are proposing 10% extra capacity across the South Central routes, better evening and weekend services and more people will be able to use smartcards.

"Additional stations will be staffed late at night and there will be around 1,000 extra car parking and cycle spaces. I expect the winner of this competition to tackle delays and cancellations as well as help deliver major projects in London that will benefit passengers for years to come."


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Thursday, May 22, 2008


Premier Anna Bligh is urging all aspiring writers to get their entries in for this year's Queensland Premier's Literary Awards before they close on Friday 23 May.

The awards program, which offers $225,000 in prize money across 14 categories, is marking the 10th anniversary of supporting and enhancing the arts throughout Australia.

"The awards recognise and reward great talent, whether you are a budding writer or an established author, and have been held in high regard across the country for the past 10 years," Ms Bligh said.

"All writers should make their mark and submit their entries before they close on Friday".

After The Lambing Flat won the Queensland Premier's Literary Award in 2002, Nerida Newton was named as one of the Sydney Morning Herald's Best Young Australian Authors. Her second novel, Death of a Whaler, was published in 2006. She is presently working on a third novel, which is set in France, and has recently returned to Queensland after living and researching in Paris.

"The voice of the culture of a nation, and of a state, is best heard through its artists. The Queensland Premier's Literary Award encourages new voices to speak up; to shout, as it were, from our corrugated iron rooftops, from our sun-baked suburban backyards, from our damp tropics and from our dusty western corners," Nerida said.

"Winning it allowed me the best possible reward: the opportunity to write, and to keep writing. In the elusive publishing industry, this kind of entrance is invaluable".

Nominations are being sought in the following award categories:

  • Fiction Book Award $25,000
  • Emerging Queensland Author - Manuscript Award $20,000
  • Unpublished Indigenous Writer - The David Unaipon Award $15,000
  • Non-Fiction Book Award $15,000
  • History Book - Faculty of Arts, University of Queensland Award $15,000
  • Children's Book - Mary Ryan’s Award $15,000
  • Young Adult Book Award $15,000
  • Science Writer Award $15,000
  • Poetry Collection - Arts Queensland Judith Wright Calanthe Award $15,000
  • Australian Short Story Collection - Arts Queensland Steele Rudd Award $15,000
  • Literary or Media Work Advancing Public Debate - The Harry Williams Award $15,000
  • Film Script - Pacific Film & Television Commission Award $15,000


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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Extra funding for rural stations

Passengers on rural and regional rail services across the country are set to benefit from a £60,000 fund for Community Rail Partnerships, Rail Minister Tom Harris announced today.

The new Designated Community Rail Development Fund will help deliver improvements to make a real difference at local stations, such as more seats at stations, cycle parking and better information for passengers. It can also help fund awareness campaigns to encourage more people to use these lines.

Rail Minister Tom Harris said:

"This extra funding will support the small projects that can make a big difference to passengers using rural routes and will help Community Rail Partnerships provide services that really benefit their local community."

Community Rail Partnerships promote and develop the railway services for local people and will apply to Association of Community Rail Partnerships for the funding. A full list of the Community Rail Partnerships eligible for funding can be found below. All partnerships working on these lines can apply to the fund for a grant of up to £5,000 per route.

Jerry Swift, Network Rail's Account Director for Community Rail, said:

"Network Rail has seen real improvements around the network as a result of the work of Community Rail Partnerships. We are delighted to be able to support this initiative and we are looking forward to seeing some innovative schemes that benefit rail users and local people. Delivering a railway that meets local needs is key to seeing the network develop."

Neil Buxton, General Manager at ACoRP said:

"Community Rail Partnerships can deliver a lot from very little and I am pleased that we are working with the Department and Network Rail to get this project off the ground. Local rail is thriving in many parts of the country and with continued work we expect it to grow further over the next few years."

The following Community Rail Partnerships are eligible to apply for funding:
Abbey Line: St Albans - Watford Junction, Hertfordshire
Atlantic Coast Line: Newquay - Par, Cornwall
Barton Line: Barton-on-Humber - Cleethorpes, North Lincolnshire
Bittern Line: Norwich to Sheringham, Norfolk
Clitheroe Line: Clitheroe - Manchester, Lancashire and Greater Manchester
Derwent Valley Line: Matlock - Derby, Derbyshire
Esk Valley Line: Whitby - Middlesbrough, Teesside and North Yorkshire
Gainsborough Line: Sudbury - Marks Tey, Suffolk and Essex
Island Line: Ryde - Shanklin, Isle of Wight
Lakes Line: Oxenholme - Windermere, Cumbria
East Lancashire Line: Preston - Colne, Lancashire
Looe Valley Line: Looe - Liskeard, Cornwall
Maritime Line: Falmouth - Truro, Cornwall
Marston Vale Line: Bedford - Bletchley East, Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire
Medway Valley Line: Paddock Wood to Strood, Kent
Penistone Line: Barnsley - Huddersfield, South and West Yorkshire
Poacher Line: Skegness - Grantham, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire
Severn Beach Line: Bristol - Avonmouth - Severn Beach
South Fylde Line: Preston - Blackpool South, Lancashire
St Ives Bay Line: St Ives - St Erth, Cornwall
Tamar Valley Line: Gunnislake - Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall
Tarka Line: Exeter - Barnstaple, Devon
Wherry Lines: Norwich - Great Yarmouth and Norwich - Lowestoft, Norfolk and Suffolk


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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rosie Winterton announces £42 million for new improved Bristol Bus Services

Transport Minister Rosie Winterton today announced approval of £42million funding for the Greater Bristol Bus Network, meaning residents of the local area will soon benefit from new buses and better services.

Ten existing bus corridors and over 70 routes around Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset will be modernised. The upgrades will include new, more comfortable low-floor and low-emission vehicles, dedicated bus lanes and improved traffic signals for buses on the roads to create faster journeys. Passengers will also benefit from new bus stops with real time information.

Speaking from College Green in Bristol, Rosie Winterton said:

"The Government is investing £42million in the Greater Bristol Bus Network to help transform people's experience of bus travel around the area, creating quicker, more comfortable and convenient journeys by bus. Real time information at stops will also help people plan their journeys more effectively and create more reliable services.

"I'm confident the new network will encourage more people to use public transport in the area, helping to tackle local congestion and pollution.

"This project is a result of the excellent partnership between the West of England local authorities and bus operators who have come together for the benefit of the travelling public. I congratulate all concerned."

The Government's contribution of £42 million will be brought up to over £70 million with funding from local authorities, as well as businesses and developers. Now that final approval has been given, work to begin building the network can start. Improvements will be completed in phases over the next three years.


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Monday, May 19, 2008

Click It or Ticket Campaign Cracking Down on Young Drivers & Passengers Not Buckled Up During Nighttime

Despite a decade of gains in daytime seat belt use, research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that nighttime belt use continues to be much lower, particularly among young drivers.

The annual Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign, launched today by NHTSA Administrator Nicole R. Nason, will focus on nighttime belt use when the odds of being killed in a motor vehicle crash are three times greater. The campaign runs from May 19 to June 1.

"Seat belt use among young drivers and occupants is not what it should be, especially at night when the risk of dying in a crash triples," Administrator Nason said. "Clearly, we need to do more to make people of all ages understand that-whether traveling by car, SUV or truck-a seat belt is the best way to stay alive, day or night."

Nighttime seat belt use is often much lower than the nationwide average of 82 percent daytime belt use, according to NHTSA research. The consequences of not buckling up are even more tragic among young passenger vehicle occupants. Of the 2,926 16- to 20-year-old passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2006, 68 percent were unrestrained. During the daytime 57 percent of the 16- to 20-year-old occupants killed were not wearing seat belts.

Joining Administrator Nason at the national launch today at Calvin Coolidge High School in Washington, D.C. were Vernon Betkey, Vice Chairman, Governors Highway Safety Association and James W. McMahon, Chief of Staff, International Association of Chiefs of Police. Across the country, law enforcement will issue tickets to seat belt law violators. The campaign is supported by a $7.5 million national and state advertising campaign. Ads produced by NHTSA in English and Spanish will run across a wide range of highly targeted media, including print, radio, and television.

"Wearing your seat belt costs you nothing," said Nason. "But the cost for not wearing one certainly will. So, don't risk it with a ticket or worse, your life. Please remember to buckle up day and night."


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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kelly announces £244m for Manchester tram extensions

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly today announced that people living and commuting in Greater Manchester will soon benefit from extensions to the popular Metrolink tram. This follows the Government pledging £244million towards the £382million total cost of the scheme.

By 2012, residents and commuters will be able to use the Metrolink to travel as far as Oldham, Rochdale or Chorlton, as well as benefit from upgrades to the existing network that will enable faster and more frequent services.

Whilst visiting St Peter's Square tram stop, Ruth Kelly said:

"Metrolink has been at the heart of Greater Manchester's transport system for more than a decade. Carrying 20 million passengers a year, it has been providing an excellent service to local residents and commuters.

"These much-anticipated improvements will make a huge difference to local public transport, and are expected to carry an extra 10 million passengers a year.

"Giving final approval to these plans reflects the Government's commitment to providing convenient, reliable and comfortable public transport. This ensures people have a real alternative to using their cars, and supports my aim to tackle congestion and reduce harmful pollution."

The extensions will go from the city centre to Oldham, Rochdale, and Chorlton as new track and new stops are created. Work will also include upgrades such as rejuvenating disused rail routes for the trams to run on. This will in turn contribute to faster journey times and more frequent services.

This £244m investment represents the final allocation of the £520m dedicated by the Government to Greater Manchester transport improvements in 2004.

Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) is also constructing a further extension to the Metrolink network, separately funded, to Droylsden in the east of the city.


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Friday, May 16, 2008

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters Issues Recommendations to Help Avoid Future Abrupt Aircraft Groundings, New Measures to Improve Air Tr

Travelers to Get Better Delay Data, Warnings About Baggage Fees and Better Service, Lower Fares At New York's JFK and Newark Airports

Airlines, aircraft manufacturers and the federal government should review current procedures to avoid the kind of massive abrupt flight cancellations that left hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded this April, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters announced today.

FAA and American Airlines Report Recommendations

Citing lessons learned from reports submitted by the Federal Aviation Administration and American Airlines in response to last month’s grounding of hundreds of MD-80 aircraft, the Secretary called on the FAA and airlines to better ensure mutual understanding of what constitutes compliance with an Aviation Directive.

Secretary Peters added that the FAA and airlines need to review and improve procedures for understanding the process, timing and criteria for requesting and approving alternative solutions for safety directives, known as Alternate Means of Compliance.

The Secretary also said she is calling on airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to review existing protocols for communications to make sure that significant safety decisions are made using a clearly documented process.

"When situations of this magnitude evolve, it is critical that all parties have the right information so the right decisions can be made," Secretary Peters noted.

She said the reports make clear that the FAA is the ultimate arbiter of what constitutes a safety of flight issue and that safety deadlines must always be met on time. "It's important to note that both American and the FAA agree when it comes to aviation safety, there are no soft deadlines."

New Air Travel Consumer Protections

Secretary Peters also released new consumer protection measures designed to improve air travel nationwide and cut congestion, increase competition and reduce fares at New York's JFK and Newark Airports. She said the Department would begin requiring airlines and travel agents to disclose fees for checking a second bag in their internet and print ads and before anyone purchases a ticket.

The Secretary also said that the Department today issued a final rule to require airlines to report new and more complete data on the time passengers spend on the tarmac. She noted that in the past airlines sometimes did not have to disclose how long aircraft were delayed after leaving the gate.

The new rule will require airlines to provide complete on-time and tarmac delay data about flights that may depart from a gate more than once, flights that are cancelled after having left the gate and flights that are diverted to another airport. "Passengers should know whether it will take as long for their flight to get to the runway as it will to land at their destination," she added.

Cutting Delays, Improving Service, Reducing Fares in New York

The Secretary also announced three new measures designed to address severe delays at the three major New York area airports while preserving consumer choice, allowing for continued airline competition and keeping fares affordable.

She noted that the Department today posted the final order to temporarily cap flights at Newark Liberty Airport at an average of 83 scheduled flights per hour at the airport from June 1 until October 2009. However, she noted that while the measure will spread flight schedules more evenly throughout the day, it still will allow for an additional 30 operations per day than what was offered at the airport last summer.

Secretary Peters announced that the Department of Transportation will invest $2 million for a new study to look at ways to add transit connections to New York's Stewart Airport, which is located approximately 90 miles north of Manhattan. She noted that the facility has the kind of runways and facilities that could take pressure off the region's busier airports as long as travelers can easily get there.

The Secretary said these two new measures build on previous steps by the Department to cap JFK and LaGuardia Airports, to improve airspace capacity and to better manage the region's airspace under a single aviation czar. But she cautions that while "all these measures are significant, no one should consider them sufficient."

She noted that capping the region's airport capacity without providing new ways to attract competition "would likely deliver fewer delays, but would certainly bring stagnant service, limited consumer choices and increased fares." As a result she said the Department was proposing new measures to make available a limited number of take off and landing opportunities, know as slots, for auction at JFK and Newark Airports.

"In order to ensure that airport caps do not become an economic drain on the region and the rest of the country, we need a way to keep aviation competition alive in the free market capital of the world," Secretary Peters said. "This new proposal will do much to make flying to New York attractive."

Under the proposal, all airlines operating at Newark and JFK would be given up to 20 slots a day for the 10-year life of the rule. The proposal offers two options for JFK. Under the first, 10 percent of the airline's slots above the 20-slot baseline would be made available via an auction. The revenue from those auctions would then be invested in congestion and capacity improvements in the region.

Under the second option for JFK, the airlines would auction 20 percent of slots above the 20-slot baseline and keep all of the proceeds. The Secretary noted that, depending on the option, between 91 and 179 slots would be affected out of 1,245 total slots at the airport.

The proposal also calls for auctioning 10 percent of slots at Newark Airport above the baseline annually for the first five years of the rule. As a result, only 96 slots out of a total of 1,219 slots at the airport would be auctioned over the 10-year span of the proposal.

The Secretary noted that airlines operating at the two airports "would receive a 10-year interest in some of the world's most valuable aviation assets, free of charge, free of question and free of hassle." She added that other airlines would get a chance to compete in an attractive aviation market, but to do so they would have to make investments that benefit every existing carrier.

She said the Department was making the proposal because economists estimate that caps at airports without competition can increase fares for passengers between 11 to 15 percent over similar flights at other airports. Meanwhile economists estimate that fares drop by over 30 percent when new airlines enter a market.

"Simply put, competition drives down fares," Secretary Peters said. She added that the Department will accept comments on the new proposal for the next 60 days, which would be thoroughly reviewed and analyzed before any final rule is issued.


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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fewer People Injured in Highway Crashes Every Year, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters Announces

But cautions that too many teens still getting injured in crashes, Announces new teen driving safety measures

SEVERNA PARK, Md. - The number of people injured in crashes on our nation's highways has declined every year since 1995, Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters announced today, noting that there were 4.8 percent fewer injuries in 2006 (2,575,000) than in 2005. The trend also extends to teenaged drivers, who achieved a more than 6 percent decline from 2005 to 2006.

Still, the new data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation indicates that teen injuries make up more than 16 percent of overall crash-related injuries, even though they represent only 8 percent of the driving public, Peters noted after meeting with the Severna Park Senior High School chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).

"In the test of life, teenage drivers are failing at twice the rate as the rest of us. That's a safety grade none of us is willing to accept," Peters said. "Just as you hit the books to turn things around in class, we're going to redouble our efforts to make our roads safer and our teenagers healthier."

To help improve teen road safety, Peters announced a nationwide competition to develop the next generation of advertising and educational materials with a fresh focus to encourage teenagers to drive safely. The winning campaign will receive $5,000 and broad distribution to where it can do the most good with the help of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

She also announced that the Department of Transportation will award $300,000 each to two states to promote seat belt use in their local communities through creative and highly visible law enforcement efforts. And she said two states would each be awarded $100,000 to help combat drunk driving through the use of promising technologies for impaired driving offenders that would disable a vehicle if the driver is legally impaired.

"You are not invincible," Peters said to a group of 50 juniors and seniors at Severna Park Senior High School. "Take your driving seriously. Put down your cell phone and stop text messaging. You can get back to your friends once you've turned off the ignition, but you can never get your life back."


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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Financial penalties for utility companies which fail to give proper notice of street works introduced

New powers allowing councils to financially penalise utility companies which fail to give proper notice that they intend to dig up the roads have come into force, Transport Minister Rosie Winterton announced today.

Following last month's strengthening of powers to better co-ordinate when street works are carried out, councils can now issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) to any utility company which fails to give correct notice before digging up the roads. This new tool will improve the quality of the information councils use to co-ordinate street works, reducing disruption for all road users, residents and local businesses.

Transport Minister Rosie Winterton said:

"Disruption from street works costs the economy about £4.9 billion each year and ongoing roadworks are among road users' biggest concerns. These Fixed Penalty Notices are an additional new tool to encourage utility companies to give accurate and timely notices of works, thus helping councils co-ordinate street works, reducing disruption for road users, residents and businesses.

"Utility companies need to dig up the road to maintain essential services such as gas, electricity and water. However, they need to follow the rules we have put in place."

New street works regulations came into force last month, giving councils the ability to insist that utility companies give longer notice periods before starting works - improving co-ordination and making it possible to prevent multiple works in different streets in the same area at the same time.

FPNs can be issued against utilities for certain offences, such as failing to give councils enough notice about major works and not telling councils when the works are completed. Previously, councils had to take court action.

Authorities already have the power to charge undertakers, such as utility companies, if their works take longer than planned. Charges currently range from £100 to £2,000 a day.


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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Independent Transport: The key to independent living

Transport Minister Rosie Winterton was in York today to look at the involvement of disabled people in the Government's Independent Living Strategy, launched in March. She also discussed the role that transport can play in transforming people's lives. Speaking at the Royal York Hotel, Rosie Winterton said:

"The Independent Living Strategy is unique in its vision to make a real impact on people's lives, working closely with disabled people and across Government. We believe that every single disabled person should be able to choose how they live their lives.

"This Government is committed to enabling independent living, and at DfT we have taken significant steps towards this aim. From our work to make trains and buses more wheelchair accessible, to the development of an England-wide bus pass we have shown our dedication to improving public transport for disabled people."

The Government's Independent Living Strategy sets out over 50 commitments covering all aspects of disabled people's lives, from housing, employment and health to transport and social care. It also focuses on important turning points in people's lives, for example the transition to adulthood for young people, the needs of disabled parents, and the experiences of growing older.

The Strategy is unique in Government because it is jointly owned by six departments and has been co-produced with those whose lives will be directly affected by its policies: disabled people. It commits the Government to monitoring its impact year on year.

Today's event brought together disabled people, local service providers and government officials to discuss how to involve disabled people in implementing and monitoring the Strategy.

The Department for Transport has made good progress in improving accessibility to public transport. The most comprehensive review of the Blue Badge scheme for a decade was recently announced, with the aim of providing a scheme fit for modern users and which will meet changing needs. A similar consultation on taxi accessibility will be launched later this year.

In 2006, the DfT announced £370 million to improve access to railway stations and this year has announced that a further 40 stations and 223 small schemes will benefit from this funding. This is in addition to the extended concessionary fares scheme, which was introduced on 1 April. Following DfT funding of £212 million, up to 11 million elderly and disabled people can now travel anywhere in England for free by bus.

The Independent Living Strategy was developed in response to the Independent Living Review, which was launched in July 2006 and aimed to find imaginative ways of supporting independent living for disabled people; it was a cross-government project led by the Office for Disability Issues.

The involvement of disabled people, from all parts of the country, of all ages, backgrounds and experiences will be critical to delivering the vision of independent living. It is this involvement, at both national and regional levels that will ensure the success of the Strategy.


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Monday, May 12, 2008

Traffic Officers on the School Run!

Highways Agency Traffic Officers in Lancashire will be departing from their usual motorway duties this month - instead taking their high visibility four wheel drive vehicle on the school run!

On Monday week (May 19) a crew of Traffic Officers from the Highways Agency's Lancashire outstation just off the M6 at Samlesbury is visiting St Barnabas Church of England Primary School at Darwen as part of the school's People Who Keep Us Safe week.

Traffic Officers Wendy Penkethman and Paul Barratt will be showing off the yellow and black chequered four wheeled drive as well as explaining to the school's four and five-year-olds how the work of England's newest uniformed service helps keep their mums and dads on the move along the motorway network.

Wendy and Paul will also be talking to the youngsters about road safety and the dangers of playing around motorways.

Wendy, who is one of around 40 Traffic Officers at Samlesbury providing round-the-clock patrols along Lancashire's motorways - including the M65 near Darwen - said, "The aim is to tell the children a little about what we do and then for them to ask us any questions they may have. We will also show them around the vehicle and explain the equipment we carry. We are certainly hoping to give them a go at putting out traffic management cones and lanterns to get a real feel for the job!"

And Paul said, "The Highways Agency works very hard with other agencies across Lancashire to get road safety messages to children but as well as talking about our jobs we will also be spreading the word about the dangers of wandering onto the motorway."

Class teacher Joanna Turner said the children were excited about Traffic Officers attending the school.

She said, "We have had the police and fire and rescue services here in the past but this is a first with the Traffic Officers. I am sure the youngsters will particularly enjoy giving the four wheel drive car the once over!

"As well as getting safety advice the children get a lot from engaging with people from the real world."


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Sunday, May 11, 2008

DOT Increases Protections for Air Travelers with Disabilities

People with disabilities will have additional protections against discrimination when they travel by air, as the result of a new rule issued today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that strengthens the existing regulation implementing the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and extends it to foreign airlines.

The new rule will apply to foreign air carriers operating a flight that begins or ends in the United States. It applies to U.S. air carrier operations worldwide. Passengers flying to Europe, Asia, or other destinations on foreign air carriers now will have similar protections against discriminatory policies and be entitled to the same accommodations as passengers flying on U.S. carriers. DOT will also be better able to take enforcement action against a foreign carrier if it discriminates against an individual because of his or her disability on flights to or from the United States.

"This revised rule expands the protections people with disabilities will enjoy while traveling by air," U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said.

The new rule will also make it easier for passengers to use medical oxygen during flights by requiring airlines to allow the use in the passenger cabin of portable oxygen concentrators that meet applicable safety, security and hazardous materials requirements for safe use aboard aircraft. The Department will seek further comment in a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) about whether airlines should be required to provide medical oxygen to passengers upon request. The SNPRM will also address subjects such as accessibility of airline web sites, automated ticketing kiosks, and in flight entertainment systems.

The new rule will also provide greater accommodations for passengers with hearing impairments. It will require airlines to include easy-to-read captions for the hearing-impaired in its safety and informational videos. Airlines also must promptly provide the same information to hearing- and vision-impaired passengers that it provides to other passengers in airport terminals or on the aircraft - such as information on boarding, flight delays, schedule changes, weather conditions at the flight's destination, connecting gate assignments, checking and claiming of baggage, and emergencies. The rule does not specify how carriers should make this information available to passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The ACAA, enacted by Congress in 1986, prohibits airlines from discriminating against disabled passengers. The Department issued its first ACAA regulations in 1990 and has amended the rules several times since then.


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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Government takes action to deliver 106 new Pendolinos for West Coast

The Government has taken a substantial step forward in providing 106 new carriages for the West Coast Main Line.

Agreement has been reached with Alstom so that they can begin the production process of new high speed tilting Pendolino trains and carriages which will deliver over 7,420 additional seats on this busy rail route.

This is in addition to the 45% increase in long distance services on the line due in December 2008.

The agreement with Alstom provides for 106 carriages which will create four new eleven-car trains and will also lengthen 31 of the existing trains from 9 to 11-cars. These will be in full service by December 2012. There is also an option to procure a further 42 carriages by early 2013 to meet rising passenger demand.

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly said:

"Our priority for the railways is increasing capacity and this will provide much needed extra seats on the busiest services from London to Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.

"In addition, the £8.8bn upgrade of the West Coast Mainline will cut journey times and deliver more frequent services."

The shortlist of bidders for the contract for Service Provider for the Pendolino Lengthening Project is also being announced by the Department for Transport (DfT).

The following bidders have been shortlisted for Pendolino Lengthening Service Provider and will receive an Invitation to Tender shortly:

* Govia Transportation Projects Limited. Govia Limited's parents are the Go-Ahead Group plc and Keolis SA

* Virgin Rail Projects Limited. Owned by a single incorporated entity - Virgin Rail Group Holdings Limited. Virgin Rail Group Holdings Limited is owned 51% by Virgin Holdings Limited and 49% by Stagecoach Rail Holdings Limited (whose ultimate parent is Stagecoach plc).

The Service Provider will support the Department throughout the design finalisation, manufacture, delivery, testing and commissioning of new 'Pendolino' rolling stock through to the end of the current West Coast franchise (31st March 2012). andYYysc


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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Driver Testing and Training to be overhauled

New proposals to reform the way people learn to drive and how they are tested have today been announced by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly.

Road deaths and serious injuries have fallen by 33% since the mid 1990s, but the casualty rate for young drivers has not changed. One in five people have an accident within six months of passing their test, and another 70% report near- misses in the same period. Alongside this newly-qualified drivers and their passengers account for one in five of all car deaths in Britain.

The aim of the consultation is to create safer drivers for life by strengthening the current learning and testing procedures, and creating a culture of extended and advanced learning. This follows extensive discussions with young people, employers, driving instructors and the insurance industry.

A foundation course in safe road use for under 17 years olds will be piloted in schools and colleges in Scotland from this Autumn. This will lead to a qualification that will be available across Great Britain.

For the first time there will be a syllabus to ensure more effective and comprehensive training is offered to learner drivers. This will set out more clearly the necessary steps to driving safely - beginning with the basics of car control, progressing to skills such as driving in difficult weather or at night and culminating in ensuring driver awareness is enhanced, to help novice drivers predict the intentions of other road users. This will help more learners to pass first time as safe and responsible drivers.

We want to create a culture in which the driving test is a milestone towards lifelong learning. Employers and insurers should have greater confidence in the driving abilities of those who have undertaken further training, and so we will work with them to develop proposals for post-test courses and qualifications that produce safer drivers, and that they are prepared to reward. Examples of this could include a new advanced training qualification, a course in motorway driving or vocational qualifications such as for van drivers.

Alongside this the driving test will be revised to place less emphasis on mechanical manoeuvres and allow examiners to properly assess the full range of a candidate's abilities. An assessment of their ability to drive independently and test to judge awareness of road safety issues will be introduced.

Speaking to young drivers at the Driving Standards Agency training centre in Cardington, Ruth Kelly said:

  • Every year more than 750,000 people pass their driving test. New drivers are keen to gain the freedom driving offers them to access further education, jobs or keep in touch with family and friends.
  • But too many new drivers are involved in road accidents and are not properly prepared for driving alone.
  • It is time for a new approach to learning to drive. We must make sure that novice drivers are safe drivers when they have passed their test. We must also create an expectation of lifelong learning, so that people continue advanced learning after their test.
  • That is why I am publishing proposals which offer new drivers more opportunities to learn both before and after the test, including at school.
  • Those who undertake extra training will not only be safer drivers, but will have the added incentive that they could see a financial reward in terms of lower insurance premiums."

More detail on the proposals in the consultation is below:

* A new foundation course, to be piloted in schools and colleges in Scotland from this Autumn, leading to a qualification on safe road use being offered across Great Britain;
* A more focused and thorough learning process before the driving test, which focuses not just on vehicle control but also the wider skills needed to be a safe driver, from driving in difficult conditions (for example at night or in poor weather) to learning to predict and respond to other road users' intentions;
* A new training syllabus to ensure learners understand what is required of them to become a responsible driver, enable them to undertake structured and efficient learning and accurately assess when they are ready to pass their driving test;
* An improved driving test which requires the driver to demonstrate independent driving skills and clear understanding of different situations on the road, with the option of modular assessment;
* New opportunities to take extra training post test; working with the insurance industry and employers in the driving for work sector we will develop new courses and qualifications to be taken after the driving test that could lead to lower premiums and a better chance of securing a career in the driving for work sector;
* A star-rating system for driving instructors so that learners can make an informed choice based on pass rates and the level of training instructors have undergone;
* A review of driving instructor training and testing to ensure they provide a quality service and are focussed on those areas of driving performance that are closely linked to safe driving.


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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Federal Government Will Help Michigan Officials Tap Into $400 Billion

In Private Infrastructure Funds to Improve Transportation Network and Help Businesses Thrive, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Announces

Saying that businesses must be able to move goods to customers swiftly and efficiently to succeed, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters today announced a series of measures designed to help Michigan take advantage of over $400 billion in private infrastructure funds available worldwide for investments in transportation projects. The new measures, which include technical assistance for state and local officials, and expediting federal reviews, are designed to allow Michigan to take advantage of private sector funds once the State Legislature authorizes their use.

"It's time to take the brakes off this state's engine of growth and give businesses the transportation network they need to compete and succeed in today's global economy," Secretary Peters said. "Faster roads, more reliable deliveries and cheaper shipping can and will make a difference."

Before making her announcement, Secretary Peters visited a local steel distributor in Jackson, Michigan to see how plans to repair and widen nearby I-94 would help companies like it grow and thrive. After the visit, the Secretary announced she was making the Department's innovative finance team available to help local community and state officials take advantage of creative and proven approaches to funding highway and other needed transportation projects.

The Secretary also announced that the Department would provide expedited reviews for any proposal from Michigan to widen I-94 that the finance team helps develop. She said the Department would do this "because fresh innovation in Michigan shouldn't be met with stale red tape in Washington."

Private sector investments are needed in Michigan because too many people in Washington prefer to spend transportation dollars on fixing lighthouses and building museums, instead of repairing roads and widening highways, Secretary Peters said. She noted that even though the federal government is spending record levels on transportation, special interest spending has left local and state officials with too little flexibility to invest those funds where they are most likely to help commuters, shippers and local communities.

"Businesses don't need a bridge to nowhere when local roads can't get them anywhere else on time," she added.

Secretary Peters noted she was working with members of Michigan's congressional delegation, including Congressman Tim Walberg, who joined her for the morning tour, to improve the federal transportation program when it is renewed next year. However, she warned that "businesses in places like Jackson shouldn't have to wait for Washington to get things right."

"Whether creating assembly lines, perfecting modern manufacturing or developing sophisticated supply chain networks, Michigan has long led the way," said Secretary Peters. "Today it has a chance to lead again when it comes to attracting the capital needed to give this state a new edge over its competitors."


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Sunday, May 4, 2008

News Digest

FRA Awards Two Grants to Washington State DOT. The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded two grants to the Washington State Department of Transportation to improve rail safety and upgrade infrastructure. A $1,485,000 grant for the Tacoma Rail Mountain Division will be used to upgrade four bridges and repair rail, crossties, and equipment on several highway/rail grade crossings between Tacoma and Morton. These safety improvements will benefit freight as well as passenger excursion operations to Mt. Rainier National Park.

In addition, $360,943 has been granted for the Olympia Infrastructure Enhancement Project to improve safety at the Market Street highway/rail grade crossing adjacent to the Port of Olympia Marine Terminal. The funds will be used for the installation of safety gates and cantilevered warning lights and the replacement of crossties and rail. Washington DOT will provide an additional $90,236 for the Market Street grade crossing improvements


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Friday, May 2, 2008

Nation's Top Highway Official Says New SR 167 HOT Lanes in Washington State Will Cut Congestion

WASHINGTON, DC - Washington state's first first-ever high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on SR 167 will give drivers more choices and cut congestion in the Seattle area, Acting Federal Highway Administrator Jim Ray announced today.

"Traffic jams don't need to be a fact of life," Ray said. "For a small price, HOT lanes give drivers more options to get home to their families and to work on time."

Today, SR 167 experiences significant congestion during both the morning and evening peak periods. The road carries approximately 120,000 vehicles a day and runs parallel to I-5 between Tacoma and Seattle.

The four-year pilot project on lanes between Renton and Auburn in King County will allow solo drivers to pay a toll to use the HOV lanes when there is space available beginning May 3. At the same time, space will free up in the general purpose lanes for all drivers, keeping transit and carpools reliable. The price of the toll will rise and fall according to traffic levels. Electronic tolling will allow drivers to pay the toll without stopping.

Ray added that the U.S. Department of Transportation's plan to tackle traffic congestion and freight bottlenecks promotes HOT lanes as one of the innovative measures to improve mobility for people and commerce. "We are focused on reining in congestion because it is one of the single largest threats to our economic prosperity and quality of life."

The Federal Highway Washington Administration provided $5.13 million for the project.


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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Statement of Federal Transit Administrator James S. Simpson

Earlier today, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has substantially improved its proposal to extend Metrorail in response to technical, financial and institutional concerns raised by the Department of Transportation in January.

Consequently, we have sent the required 10-day notification to Congress that we intend to move the project into the Final Design stage of FTA's New Starts Process. FTA will commit $158.7 million to use toward completion of a financial plan, construction plans, detailed engineering specifications and cost estimates, and other technical requirements.

However, there are still hurdles facing this project and we will not commit any federal funds for construction until a number of outstanding issues are resolved. These issues include MWAA's ability to: ensure that sufficient funds are available to cover risks; demonstrate that the project can proceed on schedule and on budget; and properly oversee the single largest design-build contract in the history of the New Starts program. In addition, we must be assured that state-of-good-repair needs for the entire Metro system will be addressed.

Secretary Peters and I have been personally involved in the discussions leading up to this decision, and we appreciate the cooperation and commitment of Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, the Virginia Congressional delegation, MWAA and WMATA to assure FTA and the public that this project can be responsibly managed and meet statutorily-required thresholds for cost, risk and other factors under the New Starts process.

It is our hope that the project will continue down this path toward success and deliver a vital and new rail capacity for the region.


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