Negotiations on opening up national railway networks to European competition have hit an unexpected setback. EU transport ministers registered opposition to a proposal contained in the revised EU rail package to offer ‘noise bonuses’ for quieter wagons.
The Commission has launched its road safety programme for 2011-20, with a commitment to halve road deaths. The programme also contains the first official suggestion that the EU should consider obligatory speed limiters for vans, something T&E has been calling for.
A new study has suggested that investing in high-speed rail can bring various benefits, but should not be marketed as a major part of efforts to combat climate change. The study, 'The Future of Interurban Passenger Transport' by the Swedish transport economist Per Kågeson, calculates the effect on emissions from building a new high speed line connecting two major cities 500 kilometres apart. It says there is no reason to prohibit investment in high-speed rail on environmental grounds as long as the carbon gains outweigh the emissions during construction, but the greenhouse gas savings are sufficiently small that it would be wrong to justify such investment as a solution to climate change.
A legal challenge against Berlin's 'environment zone' has failed. Eleven citizens and Germany's biggest car club ADAC had challenged the ruling that prevented the most polluting vehicles from driving in the designated zone. But in a written verdict published last month, the judges said the environment zone was 'reasonable' to secure the 'protection of the public's health from air pollution'. The judgement could prevent the Hannover environment zone from being abolished, which is being sought by the environment minister of Lower Saxony.