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Compulsory “clean stickers” for vehicles in Paris
11 Jan 2017:

Paris has passed a new regulation which requires vehicles to display a “clean sticker” indicating the cleanliness of the vehicle in high pollution areas.

Effective from January 2017, cars will be graded from one to six – each signified by a different coloured sticker which must be placed on the windscreen.

The different grades are awarded according to a number of factors, such as the car’s year of registration, its energy efficiency, and its emission quantity.

Air pollution has become a severe problem in major cities like Paris, and the French capital were last week forced to forbid half of its vehicles from entering the city centre– with the introduction of an alternating traffic rule which banned cars with either odd or even registration plates.

The measure was stopped after the levels of pollution dropped over the week end but it is feared that they will rise again with rush-hour traffic.

The new regulation, which has been applied progressively since summer 2016, will now be compulsory for all vehicles except for emergency vehicles, vintage cars and certain delivery and security vans.

Vehicles which fail to have their stickers will be banned from the specific high pollution zones or low emissions zones (ZCR) during week days.

The low emissions zones will be defined by local authorities according to pollution evaluations.

The French Minister of Environment, Ségolène Royal, said: “What we now need is a revolution bringing clean transport, responsible cities, electric vehicles in cities and different ways of moving around.”

The “superbonus scheme” is another measure aimed at lowering the levels of pollution in cities, granting a €10,000 (£8,400) payment for vehicles owners who change an old polluting vehicle for an electric one.

The scheme has been applied to private car owners until now, but there are plans to extend it to taxis and vans as well.

Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has said she hopes that the capital will be free of diesel vehicles by 2020, and the whole France by 2025.

Freight calls for Government support for switch to green fuels
10 Jan 2017:

The Freight Transport Association calls on the Government to give transport operators similar support to the car sector by providing significant financial support to help achieve more widespread industry take-up of green fuels and technologies.

FTA’s comments follow today’s release of the final figures from the Government’s Low Carbon Truck Trial which put more than 350 gas-powered HGVs on UK roads and supported over 15 public refuelling stations.

The trial has given industry the opportunity to test alternative fuels to diesel: however, operators believe that alternatively-fuelled truck numbers will decline if further financial support is not provided to help bridge the gap to large-scale commercialisation.  

Rachael Dillon, FTA’s Climate Change Policy Manager, said: “The new Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial announced over summer 2016 and the extension of the plug-in vehicle grant to vans over 3.5 tonnes were welcome moves to help the industry reduce its environmental impact.  However, the majority of Government funding to date has been allocated to cars.  The UK gas truck fleet makes up just 0.2 per cent of the overall truck fleet and there is potential for significant progress to be made in increasing these numbers.  However, if the Government is serious about increasing the presence of ‘green’ trucks on our roads, it must ensure that it continues to help provide facilities and incentives for operators to use them.”

As operators seek to achieve further significant reductions in carbon emissions and to improve air quality performance beyond Euro VI in the 2020s, FTA asserts that they will require financial support to adopt greener fuels and low carbon technologies, alongside government policies that support alternatives.  The industry believes that high costs of vehicle conversions or purchasing ultra-low emission vehicles plus a lack of public refuelling infrastructure are significant barriers to putting greener trucks on the road.

Ms Dillon added: “It is crucial that renewable fuels such as biomethane can be utilised in trucks to bring bigger emission reductions, especially when there are limited options for heavier vehicles to decarbonise.  Government must incentivise the production of biomethane for use as a road transport fuel rather than through the heat sector.”

Additionally, DfT has also released results of Emissions Testing of Gas-Powered Commercial Vehicles today, which recommend that Government continues to support the development of gas vehicle infrastructure and gas powered vehicles.

New stations charge EVs in under 15 minutes
10 Jan 2017:

ChargePoint’s new stations are capable of delivering up to 400 kW to a single vehicle, charging vehicles in less than 15 minutes. 

One of the largest challenges inhibiting the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is the fear amongst consumers that their vehicle could run out of charge whilst travelling and that charging it will be hugely time-consuming.

California-based firm, ChargePoint, hopes to alleviate these concerns with the introduction of their Express Plus ultra-fast DC charging network.

The chargers, which will debut at station operators this summer, will enable owners to charge their vehicle in just minutes, the time it takes them to stop for a coffee.

Pasquale Romano, Chief Executive of ChargePoint, said: "By the time your latte hits the end of the counter, your car’s probably charged. That’s what we want to get this to".

He also said: "The benchmark for us was gasoline…it can’t be any harder than going to a gas station."

Traditional petrol station stops take approximately 10 minutes and replenish at least 300 miles of range in most cars.

Currently, the best EV chargers can deliver 145 kW, replenishing 170 miles of range in roughly 30 minutes.

Express Plus is capable of delivering up to 400 kW to a single vehicle in less than 15 minutes.

The high-efficiency power conversion of Express Plus – more than 96 per cent efficiency – reduces electricity costs and wasted energy.

ChargePoint doesn't operate any EV charging stations; instead it sells equipment and licenses its technology to other businesses such as hotels or malls that wish to provide charging services to their customers.

One of the advantages of Express Plus, Romano said, is that it is both flexible and scalable.

Today, it can charge the current array of EVs, but it can also be upgraded to handle the EVs of the future, such as buses and trucks.

Consequently, station owners can start small and expand to the highest charging capacity in the industry without any stranded investment by adding more Power Modules, Stations and Power Cubes as demand increases.

Roaming for car-sharers on the horizon as ‘access economy’ accelerates
10 Jan 2017:

People who use car-sharing services could soon be able to roam with different providers when travelling, much in the same way as people do with their mobile phone networks, thanks to a new piece of software which its inventor says will also help make car sharing economically viable in smaller cities and rural areas.

It’s part of the continued expansion of the sharing economy – also known as the access or collaborative economy – in which people share access to resources such as accommodation, housing and professional services. The size of the EU’s sharing economy grew from EUR 10 billion in 2013 to EUR 28 billion in 2015, and it is expected to grow 10 times faster than the wider economy over the next 10 years.

João Félix is the founder of Portuguese company Mobiag, which has received EU funding to help develop the roaming capability for car sharing. Like many innovations, he says the idea stemmed from personal experience.

‘I was in London (UK) and I was a member of one of the existing providers at the time. Quickly I figured out that mostly I needed the other guy’s car. It didn’t make any sense - why couldn’t I use two cars that were very similar with similar technology? Half of the supply was blocked off to me.’

The idea of the platform, known as MobiCS, is to make all shared cars available to all end users, as long as they are registered with a car-sharing operator in the network. The result from the user’s point of view is that people who use a car-sharing scheme in one city have access to cars in another city or country, without having to sign up for another app and account.

Costs will depend on customers’ current rates plus deals done between different operators behind the scenes, much in the same way as mobile phone roaming is charged today.

Félix says this option to roam across different cities and countries with one car-sharing membership will help provide additional incentives for people to use such a service.

‘We will only use car sharing if it is functional. It can be the cheapest option, it can be the most eco-friendly, but at the end of the day it will only overcome traditional vehicle ownership if people know there is a car there when they need it.’

However, he says that roaming is not the only way that the new software could change the car-sharing market.

Because the platform can be used by companies that have cars for use but do not currently have their own sharing scheme – such as rental companies – as well as companies that have a membership base but no fleet of cars – such as utility companies – it means that car-sharing services can be provided by organisations for whom it is not a core business.

The company demonstrated their software by setting up a brand called Citydrive in Lisbon, Portugal, which pulled together fleets with client managers such as autoclubs, universities and utilities to create a familiar car-sharing platform for users without owning any vehicles of their own.

Félix says this ability to help different players sell car-sharing services under their own brands means the service can be extended to more users.

‘We realised that this could be the idea that takes car sharing up to the next level. Car sharing at the moment is only financially viable in larger cities with high densities. With this market organisation we can extend car sharing outside of the big city. We can extend it into smaller cities … we can even bring it to rural areas using the same players, or even peer-to-peer networks.’

Access to resources

While the idea of sharing access to goods and services is not new, the past few years have seen the sharing economy grow from ad-hoc bartering and swapping into a default behaviour for many people, thanks to the rise of platforms such as Airbnb, Uber and TaskRabbit.

Professor Christian Fieseler from the BI Norwegian Business School sees the current momentum continuing. ‘You could argue a little bit which business model will be successful in the end … but this principle of the access-based economy, I think that’s very much a case which will stay with us and which will … increasingly become part of more standard business models.’

He says that the sharing economy is a big shift which has implications beyond economics. ‘The big difference in the last five, six years is that there are new intermediaries in the middle, those platforms which facilitate the trust that people are willing to share their belongings with people … they essentially don’t know.’

Prof. Fieseler has received funding for a year-long project, starting this January, to look at some of the issues that are being thrown up, such as how the sharing economy affects our concept of privacy and how people who are unable to participate - for example by having poor internet access - could be left behind. It's one of a series of EU-funded projects that draws on the social sciences and humanities to understand how developments in digital technologies are affecting society and to promote responsible research.

By surveying and interviewing people who are active and inactive in the sharing economy, Prof. Fieseler and his team will also investigate who profits from the sharing economy, the impact on workers whose employer is a platform, and the set up of the platforms themselves.

‘The larger question is who is essentially profiting from this whole development. Some scholars and activists (ask) why … are we using platforms that are owned by shareholders, why don’t we make up our own cooperatives?

‘Uber, Airbnb and so on, they tend to take around 20 % to 30 % of the overall transaction value and you could argue why is that really necessary when the work is done by the users? This is just an argument but something that we want to look at.’

By the end of the project the researchers aim to have produced guidelines for companies in the sector to ensure they are aware of these issues.

Commission sets date to put standardised European railway signalling system in place
10 Jan 2017:

The European Commission has adopted an implementing regulation on the new European Rail Traffic Management System European Deployment Plan (ERTMS EDP). ERTMS allows trains to run seamlessly across borders by replacing differing national technical systems. The plan sets new targets until 2023 by which about 50% of the Core Network Corridors shall be equipped. In 2023, the ERTMS European Deployment Plan will be updated again setting out the precise implementation dates for the remaining part of the Corridors between 2024 and 2030. The new deployment plan will facilitate the investment and resource planning of railway undertakings and infrastructure managers.

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc stated: "The European Rail Traffic Management System or ERTMS makes a direct contribution to the competitiveness and the safety of European railways. The deployment plan adopted today provides for a phased implementation along the European rail network, bringing us closer to a fully interoperable single European rail area, where trains can more easily travel across borders."

The new ERTMS EDP is the result of consultation and negotiation with Member States, carried out by the European ERTMS Coordinator Karel Vinck over the last two years.

European ERTMS Coordinator Karel Vinck said: "All Member States have accepted ERTMS as the signalling system in Europe. It is ready to be implemented from a technical point of view and through implementing the recently adopted deployment plan we can ensure the timely deployment of ERTMS."



ERTMS is a control, command, signalling and communication system that has been available on the European market for more than 20 years. It is a software based system for the railway management and safe regulation that continuously ensures that the train does not exceed the safe speed and distance. This standardised European signalling system will replace 25 different national signalling systems and remove one of the main bottlenecks of an interoperable European railway network.

Currently trains cannot cross borders without stopping due to the different national signalling systems in operation. ERTMS makes the systems interoperable. Another benefit is the higher safety level that ERTMS provides compared with the vast majority of the existing national systems. ERTMS implementation enables higher speeds and reduces the distance between operating trains that leads to direct increases of capacity and productivity. ERTMS-equipped trains can be operated with a higher rate of reliability and punctuality, which contributes to modal shift.

The implementing regulation replaces the old ERTMS EDP of 2009. The deadlines of the old deployment plan for six ERTMS Corridors became unrealistic due to shortage of financing, limited number of available qualified experts or technical problems during implementation. Furthermore, the geographical scope and the definite deadline for implementation have been aligned with the requirements of the Regulation (EU) Nr 1315/2013 in the recently adopted deployment plan.

Virtual modelling shows driverless cars could cut delays in the future
10 Jan 2017:

Study shows driverless cars could significantly reduce delays.

Driverless cars could significantly reduce delays according to a new study by the Department for Transport.

The project used computer software to create virtual models of different parts of the UK road network including urban roads and a 20km motorway section.

Delays and traffic flow were all shown to improve as the proportion of automated vehicles increased above specific levels.

The study demonstrates that driverless cars offer major potential benefits when the proportion of them on the road is higher than the proportion of older, more traditional vehicles.

This study is an important first step towards understanding the full range of complex effects of these technologies. It paves the way for further trials and research to help ensure the transition to driverless or automated vehicles is safe and beneficial for all.

Transport Minister Johns Hayes said:

This exciting and extensive study shows that driverless cars could vastly improve the flow of traffic in our towns and cities, offering huge benefits to motorists including reduced delays and more reliable journey times.

Driverless cars are just one example of cutting edge technology which could transform the way in which we travel in the future, particularly in providing new opportunities for those with reduced mobility. This study reinforces our belief that these technologies offer major benefits and this government will support their research.

The study examined different scenarios including the level of automation, the proportion of vehicles equipped with the technology and different automated driving styles.

The main findings of the report included that:

  • on major roads where traditional vehicles outnumbered automated vehicles benefits are relatively small, but increase as the percentage of driverless cars on the roads increases - when measuring peak traffic periods with a maximum of up to 100% of driverless vehicles we saw journey times reduced by more than 11% and delays cut by more than 40%

  • on urban roads benefits are seen in peak traffic periods even with low levels of automated vehicles on roads - benefits include a 12% improvement in delays and a 21% improvement in journey time reliability

As well as this study, the Department for Transport along with the Centre for Connected Autonomous Vehicles is publishing a response to a consultation on insurance for driverless cars.

The response details proposals to extend compulsory motor insurance to include the use of automated vehicles. The response aims to establish a model where an insurer would cover both the driver’s use of the vehicle and the driverless vehicle technology itself. These proposals are intended to be taken through the Modern Transport Bill.

Commission releases report on the development of the rail market
03 Jan 2017:

On 08/12/2016 the European Commission adopted the fifth report on the development of the European rail market. The report shows that EU legislation on rail, which encourages competitiveness and market opening, has led to a more efficient and customer-responsive industry. In Member States where rail markets are opened, competition can result overall in lower fares for customers and better value for taxpayers. After adoption of the 4th Railway Package, the focus of the Commission will be on the implementation of existing legislation to bring about further performance improvement.

The report shows that, on average, the market share of competing freight operators (15% in 2006) had more than doubled by 2014. At the end of 2014, rail freight transport was 100% in the hands of national incumbent still in Finland, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania and Luxembourg.

Market shares of competitors in passenger markets are lower, given the different stage of market opening, being well below of 20% in all Member States except in Poland and the United Kingdom. Open access competition has developed in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.


Other main findings

Safety and services

Railway safety continued to improve between 2010 and 2014, with fatalities, serious injuries and significant accidents all decreasing. In 2013, the fatality risk for a rail passenger was 16 times lower than for a person travelling by car.

In 2009, with the low point of the economic crisis, rail freight volumes dropped heavily. Rail passenger volumes however, were hardly impacted. More than 50% of freight traffic in 2014 was international giving rail freight a much stronger European dimension than is the case for passenger traffic (only 6% international). Latest developments show that rail freight currently has a good 3% average annual increase rate.


The total length of rail network in 2014 was about 220,000 kilometres increasing by 2% in comparison to 2009. 52% of the network is so far electrified. Network utilisation rates are highest in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Denmark, Austria, Belgium and Germany.
Infrastructure expenditure increased from EUR 29 billion in 2011 to EUR 45 billion in 2014. Under the current EU financial framework (2014-2020) more than EUR 33 billion in grants has been allocated to rail investment.


At the end of 2014 about 900,000 people were employed by rail operators and infrastructure managers – a decrease of 4% compared to 2009. The workforce is predominately male and the proportion of workers over 40 is in many companies more than 50%. But after long recruitment freezes, rail companies have begun to recruit again.


The overall cost of the rail operations and infrastructure management was around EUR 110 billion of which 60% was covered by passenger and freight revenue, 30% by public subsidies to operations and network management, and the remainder by other sources of income (2012 data). On average, the split between infrastructure and operator costs in national rail systems is approximately 30%:70 %. Rolling stock fleet for both passenger and freight has been in decline since 2009. Passenger revenue has increased significantly, while total operating costs have remained broadly static in real terms.