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Transport - July 28

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Modern cargo ships slow to the speed of the sailing clippers

John Vidal, The Guardian
The world's largest cargo ships are travelling at lower speeds today than sailing clippers such as the Cutty Sark did more than 130 years ago.

A combination of the recession and growing awareness in the shipping industry about climate change emissions encouraged many ship owners to adopt "slow steaming" to save fuel two years ago. This lowered speeds from the standard 25 knots to 20 knots, but many major companies have now taken this a stage further by adopting "super-slow steaming" at speeds of 12 knots (about 14mph).

Travel times between the US and China, or between Australia and Europe, are now comparable to those of the great age of sail in the 19th century. American clippers reached 14 to 17 knots in the 1850s, with the fastest recording speeds of 22 knots or more.

Maersk, the world's largest shipping line, with more than 600 ships, has adapted its giant marine diesel engines to travel at super-slow speeds without suffering damage. This reduces fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 30%. It is believed that the company has saved more than £65m on fuel since it began its go-slow.

Ship engines are traditionally profligate and polluting. Designed to run at high speeds, they burn the cheapest "bunker" oil and are not subject to the same air quality rules as cars. In the boom before 2007, the Emma Maersk, one of the world's largest container ships, would burn around 300 tonnes of fuel a day, emitting as much as 1,000 tonnes of CO2 a day – roughly as much as the 30 lowest emitting countries in the world...
(25 July 2010)



Testing a London 'Cycle Superhighway'
(video)
BBCNews
The first of London's Cycle Superhighways is being launched, covering an 8.5 mile commuter route from south London into the city centre.

It is one of two initial routes to open this summer, the other going from Barking to Tower Gateway.

Another ten cycle routes from the outskirts of the city to the centre will open between now and 2015.

But beyond the encouraging name, are they any good? The BBC's Claire Heald took to the roads to find out.
(19 July 2010)



Festival transforms autobahn into world's longest street party

Nader Alsarras, Deutsche Welle
Bars not cars, culture not cargo. Germans enjoyed the quiet life on one of the country's busiest highways, if only for a day. As the A40 autobahn closed to anything with an engine, it opened up for walkers and visitors.

The usual bland asphalt highway of the A40 is not the place you would expect to listen to a ukulele orchestra, watch a woman celebrate her 40th birthday and take in a bridal fashion show.

Yet this is no usual year for the Ruhr region. As part of its year as the 2010 European capital of culture, visitors on foot, bike and inline skates have displaced the usual noisy traffic of the highway at the heart of this industrial region.

It is all part of a piece of living artwork called "Still life: Ruhrschnellweg" or the "Ruhr speedway." Where normally thousands of cars and trucks rush by everyday, the highway was transformed into a huge area for a summer party...
(18 July 2010)

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