Ship slip-up, bad bangers & destination Kosovo

Your weekly update of all things transport

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🚢 The Shipping News

New international rules on limiting sulphur emissions from shipping are in force but there might be a problem: low-sulphur fuels can emit more climate-bashing black carbon. Finland and Germany are hoping for a quick fix.

Ammonia has the potential to clean up boats in a big way and a new project hopes to build a demo vessel powered by the stuff. The prototype oil tanker might be ready to set sail in 2024.

Electricity is also an option but a lack of dockside charging infrastructure is blocking its uptake. The trendsetting Port of Rotterdam has been offering free juice-ups for certain vessels since December.

Icebreakers are often nuclear-powered and Russia is due to launch its most powerful yet in 2027, at an astronomical cost of $2 billion

A crew of troublesome Danish sailors has accepted a fine for trading tax-free booze and cigarettes for narwhal teeth and shooting a protected musk ox for dinner. 

🚄  On track

It was night-train fever in Brussels, as Austrian Railway’s new Vienna service pulled into the EU capital for the first time. It is only a small step according to some but the debut journey had one notable fan, instantly recognisable to any Brussels-bubbler…

Turkey opened up its railways to competition in the last decade but there is still plenty of work to be done. Now the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development wants to pump in new money to boost liberalisation further.

The EIB is also on the same track it seems, announcing €68m in loans for Italy to buy 40 new electric trains. The locomotives will operate on the historic Circumvesuviana line in Naples.

Spanish passengers in the northwest of the country will soon enjoy more high-speed options after the Commission approved €226m to help link Madrid to Santiago de Compestela, the infamous final destination of the camino pilgrimage.

A rail firm in the UK has come under fire for one of the most British reasons imaginable: serving the wrong sausages on its services. LNER claimed to have Lincolnshire bangers on its menu when they are in fact made in Yorkshire.

✈️ Sky-high

German airline Lufthansa hopes to resurrect a direct flight between Belgrade and Pristina soon, more than two decades since commercial services flew between the two capitals. The final green light could hinge on political wrangling though.

The UK government’s decision to bail out regional carrier Flybe has opened up a fresh debate about aviation and climate policy, check out this great op-ed. It has also provoked fresh calls in Wales for powers over setting air travel taxes to be devolved to Cardiff.

Europe’s air safety regulator confirmed that operators should avoid flying through Iranian airspace for the time-being, as troubles in the region flared up this year. 

Billionaires have been presented with a green option at the World Economic Forum pow-wow in Davos this year. Their private jets can be refuelled with a slightly less dirty jet fuel. Check out our daily update from the Swiss town for all the other news.

And fancy a slice of private air travel yourself? Then you’re in luck! Mexico’s president is selling his plane and due to lack of takers, is mulling with the idea of raffling it off. Tickets are priced at just $27.

🚗 Driven

Used cooking oil could well be one of the options we find ourselves using more and more to power our vehicles. Check out how one Greek company is aiming to make it easy to recycle your old chip fat.

Also in Greece, the Commission approved more than €200m in Cohesion Funds to help complete an ambitious motorway project. When completed, the E65 will link continental Greece to Western Thessaly. More info for Greek readers here.

Poland’s consumer protection office issued its highest fine ever against Volkswagen and its role in the Dieselgate scandal. The German carmaker was hit with a bill of nearly €30m.

Almost-Spitzenkandidat and all-round nice guy Alexander Stubb bowed out of his vice-presidency of the EIB by signing a grant with Estonian rideshare company Bolt. Ink was put to paper (or finger to iPad) in the back of one of the cars.

Work is moving ahead near Berlin, where Tesla plans to build its European manufacturing plant. Protestors, both in favour and against the proposed site, made their voices heard this weekend.

🚀 Spaced-out

Tesla sister-company SpaceX conducted its first test of an aborted mission for its space capsule, an important milestone in securing approval to actually send humans into the great beyond. Here’s how NASA appraised it.

It seems like a long time since Donald Trump announced a new Space Force division of the US armed forces but there has been a development: uniforms. Twitter users were quick to ask why space soldiers would need camouflage gear off-world.

📖 What else I’m reading

  • Why farmers are buying 40-year-old tractors [Vice]
  • Shipping’s $1 trillion problem [CityAM]
  • Dominant male terrorises squirrel bridge [VRT]

Next stops

MEPs on the environment committee later today hold a public hearing on monitoring shipping emissions. It is an important milestone, as including the sector more in climate policy is a key pledge of the new Commission’s Green Deal.

Margrethe Vestager, Thierry Breton and more are speaking at the 12th Space Conference in Brussels.

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