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Thursday, July 31, 2008

£400m Government investment in North East transport

Major renewals on the Tyne and Wear Metro and plans for a new river crossing in Sunderland have been given the green light today, after Transport Minister Rosie Winterton announced a new funding package of around £400 million for these important North East schemes.

Rosie Winterton said:

"This new investment underlines the Government's commitment to delivering major improvements in the North East.

"The Metro is an iconic system, with a vital role to play for people travelling in and around Tyne and Wear. Almost £300 million will be spent to upgrade this service and ensure smoother running trains, better stations, better services and better provision of information to customers.

"I am also pleased that we are able to support Sunderland's proposal to create a crucial new crossing over the River Wear with nearly £98 million in Government funding. This will create a much-needed new gateway into the City centre, alleviate the congestion currently experienced at crossing points and make a major contribution to regeneration along the river corridor."

The Tyne and Wear package will pave the way for a reinvigoration of the service, with upgrades to ageing infrastructure and rolling stock. It is part of an important package of measures to create a more modern and reliable service that is secure and comfortable for the people who use it.

Sunderland's plans for a new crossing consist of building a new four-lane multi-user bridge between Claxheugh and Castletown to accommodate road traffic, pedestrians and cyclists. It will create a new gateway linking the A19 trunk road with the City centre and Port of Sunderland, improving access to key employment locations, reducing congestion and enhancing regeneration along the river corridor.

It will also include the provision of bus lanes on Wearmouth Bridge and the upgrading of the signalised Southern Bridgehead Roundabout.

Today's decision means that Sunderland City Council can move forward with detailed planning for the scheme, including obtaining all the necessary statutory procedures, so that main construction works can potentially begin in late 2011, with completion in Spring 2014.


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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

U.S. Transportation Secretary Peters Unveils Bush Administration's

New Approach for America's Transportation Future

ATLANTA - A clean and historic break with the past is needed to encourage the future vitality of our country's transportation network, said U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters, who today unveiled the Bush Administration's new plan to refocus, reform and renew the national approach to highway and transit systems in America.

"Without a doubt, our federal approach to transportation is broken. And no amount of tweaking, adjusting or adding new layers on top will make things better," Secretary Peters said. "It is time for a new, a different and a better approach."

The Secretary said the plan sets a course for reforming the nation's transportation programs by outlining a renewed federal focus on maintaining and improving the Interstate highway system, instead of diverting funds for wasteful pet projects and for programs clearly not federal priority areas like restoring lighthouses.

Addressing urban congestion and giving greater flexibility to state and local leaders to invest in their most needed transit and highway priorities is another key focus of the reform plan, said Secretary Peters. Local leaders will have greater freedom and significantly more resources to fund new subways, bus routes or highways as they choose, based on the needs of local commuters instead of the dictates of Washington.

As part of this focus on congestion, the plan would create a Metropolitan Innovation Fund that rewards cities willing to combine a mix of effective transit investments, dynamic pricing of highways and new traffic technologies, the Secretary said.

The reform plan also calls for greatly reducing over 102 federal transportation programs which have proliferated over the last two decades replacing them with eight comprehensive, intermodal programs that will help focus instead of dilute investments, and cut the dizzying red-tape forced upon local planners, she said.

Secretary Peters said a hallmark of the plan is a refocused and redoubled emphasis on safety, using a data and technology-driven approach that also gives states maximum flexibility to tackle their toughest safety challenges. Using a data-driven approach, she said, we are and must continue focusing on issues that put drivers, commercial drivers, passengers and pedestrians at risk, including crashes involving drunk drivers, motorcycles, work zones and rural roads.

And to improve the current 13-year average it takes to design and build new highway and transit projects in the United States, the Secretary said the federal review process would be streamlined to ask the same stringent environmental and planning questions, but get answers more quickly.

The Secretary emphasized that central to any reform for transportation is finding new revenue sources to supplement the unpredictable and unsustainable gas tax, in order to fund maintenance and pay for new needed projects. She said the gas tax is an antiquated mechanism, underscored by the current climate of high gas prices. Americans are driving less and taking advantage of transit options, but less driving also results in less revenue for transit operations.

Secretary Peters said more direct pricing options like tolling are needed and states must be empowered to take advantage of the over $400 billion available worldwide for infrastructure investments from the private sector. "The idea is simple: use federal funds to encourage new sources of investments for transportation, instead of replacing them," she said.

"Our plan will make it easier to pay for and build roads and transit systems. It will deliver fewer traffic tie ups, better transit services and a stronger economy. It will make our roads safer and give Americans new confidence that the money they invest in transportation will actually deliver results," Secretary Peters said.

The Secretary said the plan lays out the Administrations' framework for completely overhauling the way U.S. transportation decisions and investments are made, and is intended to spur local, state and federal debate about how best to incorporate the new reforms into surface transportation legislation slated to be considered by Congress in 2009. She will personally brief Members of Congress on the contents of the plan this week.

"I look forward to working with my colleagues on Capitol Hill over the next few months to really explore the innovative ideas contained in this proposal," Secretary Peters said. "While I understand that this plan represents a significant departure from the status quo, I hope that Congress will shed partisan labels and come together to consider a piece of legislation that will keep our transportation system viable well into the next decade."


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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Plans to deter inconsiderate parking announced

Plans to help councils tackle inconsiderate parking were outlined in a consultation published today by Transport Minister Rosie Winterton.

A new parking framework, introduced by the Department for Transport in March, gave councils in England the power to issue Penalty Charge Notices to motorists who park at dropped footways or double park.

Authorities in London have successfully used this tool for a number of years to help wheelchair users and those with prams manoeuvre on and off pavements. It has also helped deter motorists from blocking the road when parking.

To make the power more effective, DfT is today launching a consultation on plans to allow authorities outside London to enforce against these specific offences without having to indicate the restrictions with traffic signs or roads markings.

This will improve national consistency by bringing the rest of England in line with authorities in London where these restrictions do not have to be indicated with signs or markings. It will also help reduce street clutter.

Transport Minister, Rosie Winterton, said:

"Dropped footways are provided to help wheelchair users and those with powered mobility vehicles or prams get around easily and safely. They also allow residents to easily reach their garages or park on their driveways. The Highway Code says that you should not stop or park in such places and we believe placing of traffic signs and/or road markings to indicate these restrictions should not be necessary - as is the case in London.

"The same rules should apply to allow councils to enforce against double parking - a dangerous activity that causes an unnecessary obstruction of the road, putting all road users at risk.

"While we believe signs and markings are not necessary in these specific and restricted circumstances, we expect local authorities who want to use these powers to publicise their plans to do so. All other restrictions will continue to require clear signs and markings."

Welcoming the consultation, Keith Banbury, Chief Executive, British Parking Association, said:

"The BPA welcomes the Government's decision to consult on proposals to clarify the law regarding the enforcement of double parking and the obstruction of footway crossovers where this is undertaken by local authorities as part of civil parking enforcement. We must be absolutely sure that this power, which has been used in London for a number of years, is implemented in a fair and transparent way and this consultation will allow all stakeholders to comment on the application of these new rules across the rest of England."


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Sunday, July 27, 2008

New plan to improve safety for Motorcyclists

Plans to tackle the numbers of motorcyclists killed or injured on Britain's roads were published today by Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick.

The new Motorcycling Strategy Action Plan - agreed with the National Motorcycle Transport Council - sets out what the Government will do to improve safety for motorcyclists and to continue to facilitate motorcycling as a choice of travel.

Jim Fitzpatrick said:

"Motorcyclists are the single most vulnerable group on Britain's roads today. They account for just 1% of all road traffic, but for 20% of all those killed on the roads.

"The new action plan sets out how we will work to improve the safety of motorcyclists, and make sure that we continue to address their concerns and fully consider their needs when making decisions."

Updated actions in the new plan include building on initial work to identify the feasibility of a motorcycle safety assessment programme, in particular, looking at the safety benefit to motorcyclists offered by new technologies and the potential for including security and environmental aspects. We will also investigate reporting options for diesel spills and other highway defects, and disseminate options for tackling diesel spills. Since the strategy was published in 2005:

* The DfT has developed and launched a new TV and radio THINK! campaign to encourage car drivers to "take longer to look for bikes".

* THINK! has sponsored the British Superbikes Championship.

* The DfT has published new safety ratings for motorcycle helmets through the SHARP scheme that could save up to 50 lives a year.

* The Driving Standards Agency has established a voluntary register of approved Post Test Motorcycle Trainers and an Enhanced Rider Scheme offering insurance discounts to licensed riders who take further training with an approved instructor.

* The DfT has published new guidance to local authorities on Use of Bus Lanes by Motorcycles.

* Guidance to highway authorities on motorcycle-friendly infrastructure has been published by the Institute of Highway Incorporated Engineers with support from DfT.

The 42 new actions update those in the 2005 Strategy. Some of the original actions have been completed, others are ongoing, many have developed over time and been revised to reflect the latest progress, while some new issues have arisen requiring new actions.


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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Crossrail given go ahead by Parliament

Work on the largest civil engineering project in Europe to get underway

Crossrail, the largest addition to the transport network in London and the South East for more than 50 years has completed its Parliamentary process, with the Crossrail Bill receiving Royal Assent last night.

Following the Prime Minister's announcement last October that a £16bn funding package had been secured for the construction of Crossrail, Parliamentary approval of the Bill means that the project is on track to be operational for passengers in 2017. It will mean more capacity and faster journeys for passengers, as well as a £20bn boost to the wider UK economy.

The line will run from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west through tunnels under central London - with new stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Isle of Dogs (Canary Wharf) - then out to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

The Crossrail Act grants powers to acquire land and for Crossrail to be built and maintained. Enabling works will take place next year, with main construction works set to begin in 2010.

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly said:

"This landmark project is of major significance to both London and the whole country. It will generate jobs and economic growth, help re-vitalise some of our most deprived areas and deliver major improvements for the travelling public.

"Crossrail has been talked about for decades, so I am delighted that now we have secured both the funding package and parliamentary approval work can finally begin to deliver this fantastic project."

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said:

"I am absolutely thrilled that work can now begin on one of the largest projects ever seen in the capital, a project that is vital to the future prosperity of our city and a project that has the potential to improve the lives of many thousands of Londoners.

"Crossrail will shorten journey times for Londoners and visitors to our city whether they are heading for the bright lights of the west end or the citadels of commerce at Canary Wharf. But most importantly it can act as a catalyst for regeneration across the whole of our city, particularly in the east of the capital.

"Londoners living in the east will have far greater access to jobs in the centre of London and we expect to see the areas where they are living flourish from private sector investment in housing and development. All this and Crossrail even pays for itself. That is what I call a cracking deal for the capital."

Douglas Oakervee, Executive Chairman of Cross London Rail Links said

"Royal Assent is the most significant milestone in the history of Crossrail. After years of planning and discussion, we are ready to move into the delivery phase of a project that will benefit London, the south east region and the UK as a whole.

"Up to 14,000 people will be employed in the construction, and training schemes are planned to help equip Londoners along the route with the skills to secure these jobs. This will be a project for the whole community - a new world class affordable railway that London expects and deserves."

London's Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy said:

"The importance of Crossrail to London's economy and transport network cannot be overstated. Along with the vital upgrade of the Tube, it will provide much needed additional transport capacity to keep London moving.

"When complete, it will carry twice as many passengers as the Jubilee line, increasing London's public transport network capacity by 10%. Our priority now is to ensure delivery of this project, on time and on budget."

Iain Coucher, Chief Executive, Network Rail said:

"We have a thriving and punctual railway and the key challenge now is providing more capacity for passengers. Crossrail, along with projects such as Thameslink will provide a huge boost to public transport across the capital and beyond, linking some of the UK's busiest transport hubs and adding a vast array of new journey opportunities to commuters, business and leisure travellers.

"Network Rail will play a vital role in preparing the existing rail network to accommodate a vast increase in traffic and providing upgrades to passenger facilities that encourage people to use the railway."

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First said:

"Today's final parliamentary approval is great news for the capital's commuters and businesses. It signals Government intent to get moving on delivering on this crucial project. But, more than that, it signals a world city investing in its future competitiveness."

Stuart Fraser, Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee, City of London Corporation said:

"Financial services in the UK - and billions of pounds in taxes - depend on London having an integrated transport system linking the capital to the rest of the country and the world. We have always backed Crossrail, even in the 1990s when no-one else did, and now we want to see it, delivered, as part of a chain of infrastructure that includes an efficient Tube and rail networks and airports (especially Heathrow) that are fit for the 21st century. Crossrail is vital but delivering it should not become an excuse for cut-backs in other areas."

When complete, there will be 24 trains per hour in each direction through Central London during peak times. This will provide substantial new passenger capacity and crowding relief, particularly on the Central and Piccadilly lines.

The service will be delivered by a new and dedicated fleet of approximately 600 air conditioned carriages. They will be greener, lighter, quicker, able to carry a greater number of passengers and more reliable than existing designs. Stations along the route will be accessible.

Royal Assent is the most significant milestone in the history of Crossrail and the time when Cross London Rail Links Limited changes from a planning and promotional organisation to the Delivery Agent for this exciting new railway. As part of this transformation four new independent non-executive directors - Michael Cassidy CBE, Patrick Crawford, Sir Joe Dwyer and Heather Rabbatts, CBE - have been appointed.

The Executive Chairman Douglas Oakervee, who has successfully led the company over the past three years, will continue in that role until the appointment of a CEO and non-Executive Chairperson in accordance with best corporate governance practice. An open and competitive selection process will commence shortly to bring about this change. It is expected that Mr Oakervee's experience and knowledge will continue to be closely associated with Crossrail through the challenging and exciting times ahead.


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Monday, July 21, 2008

Deputy Secretary of Transportation Barrett Announces $1 Million Grant to Help Reduce the Leading Causes of Rail-Related Deaths

Deputy Secretary of Transportation Vice Admiral Thomas J. Barrett today announced a $1.015 million grant to continue federal support of public education efforts to reduce collisions between trains and motor vehicles at highway-rail grade crossings and discourage illegal trespassing along railroad rights of way.

"Most rail-related deaths are preventable, and the far-reaching educational outreach efforts of Operation Lifesaver helps save lives every day," said Barrett, noting that in 2007 there were 338 grade crossing and 473 trespasser deaths which accounted for a combined 95 percent of all rail-related fatalities.

Barrett explained that the grant is being provided by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and will support the public outreach and training programs of Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), a national not-for-profit rail safety organization. An additional $338,332 will be generated in matching funds or services, he added.

The federal funds will be used for OLI's States Assistance Program, which provides up to 50 grants to state organizations that manage railroad safety awareness programs. In addition, the FRA grant will support training programs for OLI's more than 2,100 volunteer trainers and presenters, specialized communications programs, publications and other related materials.

Barrett further stated that the annual FRA grant funding will be used for new OLI initiatives, including production of a training video for commercial truck and bus drivers, development of more outreach resources for the Hispanic/Latino community, creation of new public service announcements, and a special initiative targeting college age and 25- to 30 year-olds. And, in response to the consistently high and relatively unchanged number of trespass deaths in recent years, OLI will renew its emphasis on addressing trespass issues.

The grant announced today supports the goals of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation's 2004 Action Plan for Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety and Trespass Prevention that provides a roadmap for guiding federal, state, local, railroad industry and other efforts to combat these problems.

Deputy Secretary Barrett announced the FRA grant at the OLI International Symposium in Covington, KY.


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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Free bus passes for injured armed forces personnel

Free England-wide bus passes will be offered to seriously injured Service personnel and Veterans, under new plans to recognise the valuable contribution made by the Armed Forces, Transport Minister Rosie Winterton announced today.

As part of the Ministry of Defence's cross-government Command Paper, it was also announced that there will be an automatic Blue Badge entitlement to allow injured Armed Forces personnel and veterans greater access to on-street parking and free use of parking meters.

These enhancements build on April's extension of the free bus pass, to allow up to 11 million older and entitled disabled people to travel for free on local buses across England, and the Department's recent consultation on changes to the Blue Badge scheme.

Rosie Winterton said:

"Ensuring injured Service personnel and Veterans receive a free England-wide bus pass and have an automatic entitlement to Blue Badges are key ways in which we can recognise the valuable contributions they make.

"It will help injured Service personnel and Veterans to access key services and keep in contact with friends and family - giving the freedom to live a more independent life. It is only right that we do everything we can to help personnel injured whilst serving their country and I am pleased to work with the Ministry of Defence to bring these important changes into effect."

The concessionary bus fare scheme was extended in April this year to include England-wide travel for those over 60 or those with certain disabilities. The new extension will come into force in 2011 and will include people in the armed services under the age of 60 who have been seriously injured.

Veterans receiving War Pensioners Mobility Supplement currently quality for a Blue Badge, and will continue to do so. However, these proposals will extend this to people who have been given certain awards under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. They will also make the process of getting a Blue Badge much smoother.

Today's commitments have been designed to reflect the considerable and unique demands of life in the armed forces and will provide improved access to public services for those affected.


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Thursday, July 17, 2008

New Rule Reduces Risk of Fuel Tank Flammability on Passenger Jets

ASHBURN, Va.- Within two years, all new aircraft must include technology designed to significantly reduce the risk of center fuel tank fires as part of a final rule announced today by U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters. In addition, passenger aircraft built after 1991 must be retrofitted with technology designed to keep center fuel tanks from catching fire, she said.

"We want to do everything possible to make sure safety examiners won't have to investigate another plane shattered by an exploding tank," said Secretary Peters. "We can't change the past, but we can make the future safer for thousands of air travelers, and this rule does just that."

The Secretary, who spoke on the day before the anniversary of the crash of TWA Flight 800, said the new rule was needed to help avoid a similar tragic incident. She said the rule requires aircraft to have technology to neutralize or eliminate flammable gasses from fuel tanks under the center wing of commercial passenger planes.

Secretary Peters noted that in the wake of the TWA crash researchers with the Federal Aviation Administration developed a breakthrough system that replaces oxygen in the fuel tank with inert gas, which effectively prevents the potential ignition of flammable vapors. She added that commercial aircraft manufacturer Boeing also has developed a similar system.

"Today's rule will add another layer of safety reducing the chance that the vapors in the tank will ignite, even if there is a spark," said FAA Acting Administrator Robert A. Sturgell.

Secretary Peters noted the cost of installing the new technology would range from $92,000 to $311,000 per aircraft, depending on its size. She said this cost could be as little as one-tenth of one percent of the cost of a new aircraft. The U.S. aircraft that will be retrofitted include approximately 2,730 aircraft belonging to the A320 family of 900 airplanes, 50 A330s, 965 Boeing 737s, 60 Boeing 747s, 475 Boeing 757s, 150 Boeing 767s and 130 Boeing 777s.

"I recognize that this is a challenging time for commercial aviation," Secretary Peters said. "But there is no doubt that another crash like TWA 800 would pose a far greater challenge."

The Secretary made the announcement while addressing accident investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) Training Facility in Virginia. Before addressing the examiners, the Secretary, Acting Administrator Sturgell and NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker visited the remains of the TWA flight which are kept at the site as an educational tool for safety investigators.

The rule is published on the FAA and Federal Register's web sites at: or


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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kelly announces £6bn motorway improvements

London will receive £2.1m through the Urban Congestion Performance Fund

Ruth Kelly, Transport Secretary, today announced a £6 billion investment package to improve and make better use of England's motorways and other key roads and also published the Command Paper 'Roads - Delivering Choice and Reliability' setting out more detail on her innovative plans to tackle congestion, both on strategic routes and in our towns and cities.

This will fund a mix of techniques to get the most out of the existing network, such as opening the hard shoulder to traffic, taking forward the Advanced Motorway Signalling and Traffic Management Feasibility Study which identified almost 500 lane miles of motorway with the potential for hard shoulder running.

The Command Paper confirms that the M25 Junctions 5-7 and 23-27, the M3 and M4 approaching the M25 and the M23 Junctions 8-10 around Gatwick are being considered for hard shoulder running. The £6bn package includes funding for widening the M25 between Junctions 16 and 23 and between 27 and 30.

In addition, London will receive £2.1m through the Urban Congestion Performance Fund.

Ruth Kelly said:

"I am determined to get the best from our road network so that motorists in London have reliable journey times on roads that are safe and well-managed. The greatest barrier to this is congestion. It is frustrating and has serious consequences for the economy and the environment.

"To achieve this we need a smarter programme of investment. The £6 billion I am announcing today will allow us to develop and implement more innovative approaches to the way we use our major roads. This includes measures like opening the hard shoulder when traffic is at its heaviest, alongside some conventional widening where that makes best sense.

"Where we add new capacity through measures like this I am also interested to see what role car share or tolled lanes could play in helping traffic flow more smoothly - giving motorists a choice about how they make their journeys."

New funding has also been announced for our biggest towns and cities, recognising that 80% of congestion is currently in urban areas. This sees eight areas - Bristol, Greater Manchester, Leicester, London, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear and the West Midlands - benefiting from the first allocation of the performance-based £60m Urban Congestion Performance Fund.

Leeds has also won pump-priming funding to join those local authorities looking at tackling congestion through public transport improvements combined with local congestion charging. Cambridgeshire and Reading also receive further pump-priming funds to carry on developing their congestion-busting plans.

Ruth Kelly added:

"The majority of congestion is in our towns and cities, where the answer cannot be building new roads. That is why I will continue to support councils who want to investigate whether radical packages, which include public transport improvements combined with local congestion charging, would be the right solution for them."

Today's announcement includes:

- Up to £6bn in funding for improvements to strategic national roads in the period up to 2014 to cut congestion, support economic growth and improve road safety.

- Further details of how the hard shoulder could be used to provide extra space on the motorway network. We are looking in particular at sections of the motorway network previously planned for widening, and at some new locations including the M3 and M4 approaches to London, the M4 and M5 around Bristol and the M3 and M27 around Southampton. We are also considering how to make best use of the extra capacity, including looking at successful examples of dedicated or tolled lane use in America and hard-shoulder running in Europe.

- Revised cost estimates for the Highways Agency Major Roads Programme, including regional priorities.

- Pump priming funding for Cambridgeshire, Reading and Leeds through the up to £200m a year Transport Innovation Fund to allow them to investigate how they can manage congestion in innovative ways.

- The first tranche of performance-based funding from the £60m Urban Congestion Performance Fund. The first performance payments, totalling £6 million, will be shared between Bristol, Greater Manchester, Leicester, London, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear and the West Midlands.

An additional £8m to help local authorities manage their transport assets more effectively.


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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

News Digest

FRA Issues Final Rule for Rail Relocation and Improvement Grant Program. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a Final Rule detailing the eligibility requirements and selection criteria for capital grants under the Rail Line Relocation and Improvement program created in the SAFETEA-LU legislation. In order to be eligible for grant funding, a project must mitigate the adverse effects of rail traffic on safety, motor vehicle transport traffic flow, community quality of life or involve a lateral or vertical relocation of any portion of the rail line. Under the law, half of all grant funds are reserved for projects costing no more than $20 million each. A state or other eligible entity will be required to pay at least 10 percent of the shared costs of the project. Congress appropriated $20,040,200 for this program for FY2008 with $5,240,000 directed to nine (9) non-competitive projects. FRA intends to issue a Notice of Funding Availability later this year following which applications will be accepted for a competitive selection process for the remaining program funds. Click here for a copy of the Final Rule. Contact Steve Kulm: (202) 493-6024.


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Monday, July 14, 2008

Breathing new life into local lines - community rail project announced for New Forest

The picturesque train route between Brockenhurst and Lymington Pier stations has today been officially awarded Community Rail status by Transport Minister Tom Harris.

Designation of the five and quarter mile line, which passes through the New Forest National Park on its way to the key Isle of Wight ferry link at Lymington, brings a variety of benefits. It means official recognition of the new Community Rail Partnership set up at grassroots level to develop the service with a greater emphasis on meeting local needs. They also look at ways of increasing use of the route and improving the service.

Transport Minister Tom Harris said:

"This is good news for passengers in Hampshire. By becoming a community line this key transport link through an environmentally sensitive area will benefit greatly from the work of the Community Rail Partnership. A recently published study by the Association of Community Partnerships has demonstrated that they can boost use of the service, reduce car journeys in the area, help develop tourism and contribute to regeneration along the route.

"It is fitting that this positive news about its future comes as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first train to travel on the line."

Stewart Palmer, Managing Director, South West Trains added:

"Since the Lymington Line was first identified as a potential community railway transport we have worked hard to try and give the route an extra boost by creating a heritage railway with traditional slam door trains and a historical green and cream theme. We are proud to be part of the new Lymington to Brockenhurst Community Rail Partnership and hope that by all working together we can achieve the sort of success already achieved by the Isle of Wight Community Rail Partnership, of which we are also very proud to be a part."

Councillor Mel Kendal, Transport Portfolio holder for Hampshire County Council and Chairman of the Lymington-Brockenhurst Community Rail Partnership Steering Group concluded:

"Hampshire is proud to be associated with the Lymington - Brockenhurst Community Rail Partnership which is a real bonus for the enhancement of tourism in the New Forest area and for strengthening the maritime link with West Wight. Designation of the line will unlock measures to attract more visitors to the area by train and help generate a real sense of 'ownership', involvement and civic pride in the stations at Brockenhurst and Lymington and in the distinctive heritage trains themselves."


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Sunday, July 13, 2008

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters Announces $1 Million Quick Release to Wisconsin for Urgent Repair of Roads and Bridges Damaged by Floods

The federal government is making $1 million available immediately in emergency relief funds for Wisconsin to help pay for urgent repairs to roads and bridges damaged by floods, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters announced today.

"We're making this down payment to help restore essential traffic routes so people can get back to their lives and businesses can begin to recover," Secretary Peters said.

Secretary Peters said the $1 million quick release was intended to help Wisconsin begin restoring roads that were washed out from the floods, including County Trunk Highway that provides access to Sauk County's Lake Delton, an important tourist destination and revenue generator for the region.

The Secretary added that the Department would continue to work with officials from Wisconsin and other Midwestern states as they assess the extent of road damage caused by the floods. She said more resources will likely be made available based on those evaluations.

The Federal Highway Administration's emergency relief program provides funds to states for the repair or reconstruction of federal-aid highways damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events. The program typically works on a reimbursable basis.

In June, the Department provided a $1 million quick release to Iowa as well to repair damage from the Midwest floods.

"We're committed to bringing back essential transportation links after a natural disaster strikes," FHWA Acting Administrator Jim Ray said.


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Thursday, July 10, 2008

New car co2 targets will reduce emissions and cut motorists' running costs

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has today launched a consultation on European Commission proposals to introduce compulsory CO2 targets for new cars. This will reduce carbon emissions, make cars more fuel efficient and cut the running costs of new cars.

The proposed target of 130gCO2/km by 2012 as the fleet average for each car manufacturer across the EU for all new cars will not only be an important step forward in tackling climate change, it will also incentivise the use of technology that will improve the fuel efficiency of new cars.

The Government is also urging the EU to adopt a longer term target - 100gCO2/km by 2020. This would deliver a cut in CO2 emissions from new cars by an extra five million tonnes a year by 2020, in addition to the six million tonnes cut under EU proposals. It could also reduce the running costs for motorists buying new cars by about £500 a year by 2020, a particularly important consideration at a time of rising oil prices.

The Government also wants to avoid the regulation creating competitive imbalance between different types of car manufacturers. The Government therefore welcomes provisions in the EU proposals for setting different targets for manufacturers producing small numbers of cars. A provision in the regulation for niche manufacturers who produce a narrow range of cars is also being urged by the UK.

Ruth Kelly said:

"Tackling climate change is one of the single most important issues we face. Harmful road transport emissions continue to rise and it is important we act now to reduce them.

"That is why we support this move to introduce mandatory CO2 targets for new cars - and are taking the lead in urging the adoption of a tougher target from 2020. This has potential for being the biggest CO2 saving measure in transport.

"It will be good for the environment and for the motorist, as more fuel efficient cars could mean reduced running costs of about £500 for new car buyers.

"But we also want to ensure that it does not unfairly impact on car manufacturers, particularly those that produce niche vehicles or a small volume of vehicles.

"That is why we argued for provisions that ensure these manufacturers are not unfairly penalised, whilst still producing more efficient vehicles that have a less harmful impact on the environment."

The consultation formally closes on 3 October but those who wish to respond are urged to do so as soon as possible.


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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

FMCSA Continues to Protect Consumers by Cracking Down on Rogue Interstate Moving Companies

WASHINGTON - Unscrupulous interstate moving companies that violate federal consumer protection and safety regulations will continue to be targeted for investigations and prosecutions by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which today announced the results of a recently concluded strike force investigation involving nearly 350 moving companies located in 13 states and the District of Columbia. In all, 1,140 violations of federal regulations were recorded, resulting in nearly $325,000 in assessed fines.

"Interstate movers with fraudulent or rogue operations are hereby put on notice: federal investigators will be knocking on your door in the future and you will face serious legal and financial consequences," FMCSA Administrator John H. Hill said. "During this strike force alone, six companies received federal fines in excess of $27,000."

From May 5, 2008, through May 16, 2008, FMCSA, in cooperation with state law enforcement and consumer protection agencies, conducted focused compliance reviews on carriers hired to transport consumers' personal property across state lines. For a list of companies cited during the strike force, see

The strike force targeted states that received the most complaints in the National Household Goods Consumer Complaint database ( In fiscal year 2007, FMCSA received nearly 4,000 complaints.

The compliance reviews were conducted by federal investigators in Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas and Virginia.

"We owe much of our success to our state partners who eagerly participated in the strike force," said Rose McMurray, FMCSA chief safety officer and assistant administrator. "Our state counterparts, including state commercial vehicle enforcement units, consumer protection agencies and the state Attorney General offices, were an integral part of this ambitious effort. We will continue working together to protect the public from these rogue and often predatory moving companies."

Consumers can help identify noncompliant household goods movers by calling FMCSA's nationwide complaint hotline, 1-888-368-7238 (1-888 DOT-SAFT) or by visiting Prior to selecting a household goods carrier, consumers should also visit FMCSA's for information on planning a successful move and to search movers and their complaint history.


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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Airline On-Time Performance Improves in May

The largest U.S. airlines' rate of on-time flights this past May was higher than in both the same month last year and April 2008, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The rates of flight cancellations and mishandled baggage also declined compared to the same periods, according to the report.

According to information filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), the 19 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 79.0 percent in May, higher than both May 2007's 77.9 percent and April 2008's 77.7 percent.

The monthly report also includes data on the causes of flight delays and consumer service, disability and discrimination complaints received by DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Division. This report also includes reports required to be filed by U.S. carriers of incidents involving pets traveling by air.


The consumer report includes BTS data on the number of domestic flights canceled by the reporting carriers. In May, the carriers canceled 1.0 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, lower than both the rates of 1.1 percent in May 2007 and 1.7 percent in April 2008.

Causes of Flight Delays

In May, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 7.73 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 7.70 percent in April; 6.39 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 6.51 percent in April; 5.12 percent by factors within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.63 percent in April; 0.53 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.55 percent in April; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, the same percentage as April. Weather is a factor in both the extreme-weather category and the aviation-system category. This includes delays due to the re-routing of flights by DOT's Federal Aviation Administration in consultation with the carriers involved. Weather is also a factor in delays attributed to late-arriving aircraft, although airlines do not report specific causes in that category.

Data collected by BTS also show the percentage of late flights delayed by weather, including those reported in either the category of extreme weather or included in National Aviation System delays. In May, 44.05 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up 12.54 percent from May 2007, when 39.14 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, and up 16.26 percent from April when 37.89 percent of late flights were delayed by weather.

Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available on the BTS site on the World Wide Web at

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting flight delays and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.59 reports per 1,000 passengers in May, an improvement over both May 2007's rate of 5.94 and April 2008's 4.99 rate.

Incidents Involving Pets

In May, carriers reported six incidents involving pets while traveling by air, up from three incidents in April. The May incidents involved four deaths and two injuries.

Complaints About Airline Service

In May, the department received 885 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 4.8 percent from the 930 complaints filed in May 2007 and 20.5 percent fewer than the total of 1,113 received in April 2008.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in May against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The Department received a total of 39 disability-related complaints in May, up 14.7 percent from the 34 filed in May 2007 and 8.3 percent more than the 36 complaints received in April 2008.

Complaints About Discrimination

In May, the Department received 13 complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability - such as race, religion, national origin or sex – up from both the five complaints received in May 2007 and the total of eight received in April 2008.

Consumers may file their complaints in writing with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, W96-432, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20590; by voice mail at (202) 366-2220 or by TTY at (202) 366-0511; or on the web at

Consumers who want on-time performance data for specific flights should call their airline's reservation number or their travel agent. This information is available on the computerized reservation systems used by these agents.


May 2008

Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics
by the 19 Reporting Carriers


79.0 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Hawaiian Airlines - 88.9 percent
2. Pinnacle Airlines - 85.9 percent
3. AirTran Airways - 84.7 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. American Airlines - 67.3 percent
2. United Airlines - 72.4 percent
3. Continental Airlines - 75.4 percent

Most Frequently Delayed Flights

1. Southwest Airlines flight 2709 from Houston to San Diego - late 100 percent of the time
2. Northwest Airlines flight 851 from Detroit to Anchorage, AK - late 94.12 percent of the time
3. SkyWest Airlines flight 2718 from Muskegon, MI to Flint, MI - late 91.67 percent of the time
4. American Airlines flight 1555 from New York JFK to Miami - late 90.32 percent of the time
4. American Airlines flight 1828 from Seattle to Dallas/Fort Worth - late 90.32 percent of the time

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. American Eagle Airlines - 2.8 percent
2. Mesa Airlines - 2.2 percent
3. American Airlines - 2.1 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. Frontier Airlines - 0.1 percent
2. JetBlue Airways - 0.2 percent
3. Atlantic Southeast Airlines - 0.2 percent


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Monday, July 7, 2008

Sustainability and cautious approach are key to future of biofuels

Transport Secretary, Ruth Kelly, and Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, today set out a new approach to biofuels based on recommendations from the Gallagher review, including that the introduction of biofuels in the UK should be slowed down to take into account emerging scientific evidence about their sustainability.

The review, commissioned by Ruth Kelly in February, looked at the wider social and environmental impacts, particularly the indirect impacts of different forms of biofuel production, in order to inform the development of both the UK and EU's policies.

The key findings of the review, published today, are that:

  • Government should "amend but not abandon its biofuel policy";
  • biofuels can play a role in tackling climate change and "there is a future for a sustainable biofuels industry";
  • by 2020 "biofuels have the potential to deliver annual global greenhouse gas savings of approximately 338 - 371 million tonnes of carbon dioxide"
  • however, there is a strong need for further evidence and monitoring to determine the sustainability and wider impacts of biofuels;
  • there is a risk that the uncontrolled expansion and use of biofuels could drive unsustainable land use change. In turn this might lead to net increases in greenhouse gas emissions and potentially contribute to rising food prices;
  • current Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation levels are right but we should be cautious about how fast further increases are brought in; a moratorium on biofuels should be rejected - "a moratorium will reduce the ability of the biofuels industry to invest in new technologies or transform the sourcing of its feedstock to the more sustainable supplies necessary to create a truly sustainable industry. It will make it significantly more difficult for the potential of biofuels to be realised";
  • At the EU level a 10%, by energy content, renewable transport fuel target is not presently justified by the scientific evidence, but could be possible if a number of important conditions are fulfilled, eg. sufficient controls on land-use change being enforced globally as part of a new climate agreement, and new evidence providing further confidence that the target can be met sustainably.

As a result of these findings the Government will:

  • consult on slowing down the rate of increase in the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation so that the level of biofuels will increase to 5% by 2013/14, rather than 2010/11.
  • continue to support the EU target of 10% renewable transport fuels by 2020, but argue that the target is conditional on the evidence showing that it is being delivered sustainably and without significant impacts on food prices.
  • press for the 10% target to be kept under regular review in the light of the emerging evidence.
  • press that the sustainability criteria for biofuels, currently being negotiated, should address indirect, as well as direct, effects on land use.
  • beyond Europe, work to establish international standards and controls, which reflect the international nature of the biofuels industry.


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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Warns Drivers Nationwide Not to Drink and Drive Over the Holiday Weekend

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters today urged the nation's drivers not to drink and drive over the holiday weekend, warning that law enforcement will be out patrolling the streets and will be taking offenders to jail.

"The 4th of July is cause for celebration, but no day is a day to drink and drive," Secretary Peters said.

The Secretary emphasized that drinking and driving would get drivers a one-way ticket to jail. "Losing your freedom is no way to celebrate our nation's independence," she added.

In 2006, over 13,000 people died in alcohol-related crashes nationwide, meaning alcohol was a factor in 39 percent of traffic deaths that year, Secretary Peters said. In South Carolina over 1,000 people died on state roads, and 420 fatalities were alcohol related, almost half of the total deaths. The alcohol-related fatality rate in South Carolina is nearly twice the national average, she said.

The Secretary noted the Department invests $40 million a year to sponsor a national advertising campaign alerting motorists to the increased enforcement and to help local law enforcement run check points.

Last year, nearly 500 potentially life-saving drunk driving arrests were made in Charleston, almost two-and-a-half times the arrests made in 2006, she said.


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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Freight Inland Waterways maps to help business go green

A report and supporting set of maps highlighting the key inland waterways suitable for freight have been published by the Department for Transport today.

The documents, published under the title The Key Inland Waterways for Freight, highlight those areas where the UK's existing network of inland waterways has the greatest potential for freight services and can fit with the needs of modern freight businesses.

Transport Minister, Jim Fitzpatrick said:

"The role of inland waterways in moving freight is already significant, primarily in the moving of construction material, agricultural products, waste and liquid bulks. We would like to see the market build on this success so that we can reduce the environmental impact of moving goods.

"In response to feedback from the market we have produced this report and supporting maps so that operators and their customers have a greater appreciation of the areas where inland waterways may help them most.

"Our aim is to promote the use of our waterways for freight transport where they provide a viable alternative to road freight. The benefit of this is reduced carbon emissions and congestion on the road."

The report shows that the areas of greatest potential are the larger waterways and river navigations linked to our major estuaries.


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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Rule Makes Cheating on Drug Testing Harder

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters announced today new rules that will make it more difficulty for transportation workers to cheat on their required drug tests by requiring drug testing labs to analyze every test for tampering.

"We want to make sure there are no doubts about the ability of anyone working in transportations do their job as safely as possible," said Secretary Peters said. "There is no margin for errors when it comes to the safety of the traveling public."

The Secretary said the new rules would cover the nation's approximately 12.1 millions transportation employers, safety and sensitive transportation employees, collectors, labs, and medical review officers. She noted that under the terms of the rule, labs would no longer have the options of testing urine samples for signs of cheating, but instead would be required to testing every specimen for possible adulterants and urine substitutes.

"In addition, all collectors will be required to put in place new procedures designed to prevents tampering with drug tests," the Secretary said. For example, observation procedures will include checking employees for items designed specifically to cheat the test. The rules also require collectors to observe all tests for transportation workers who return to their jobs after a previous test failure. Secretary Peters added that the Department would treat any invalid test results as the same as a refusal to be tested by any employee who admits to tampering with or adulterating their test.

The U.S. Department of Transportation regulates drug and alcohol testing of safety and sensitive transportation employees in the aviation, motor carrier, railroad, transit, pipeline, and maritime industries. DOT publishes rules on who must conduct drug and alcohol tests, when to conduct those tests, and what procedures to use when testing.

The Drug and Alcohol Testing Final Rule was published June 25, 2008 in the Federal Register. The effective date of the Final Rule is August 25, 2008.


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