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NDX poised to network Europe

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first_imgINTRO: Gordon Mott FCIT tells Richard Hope why chartered trains are going to be riding the Freightways before open access emerges As Assistant Vice President International Development for CSX Transportation, and a director of NDX, Gordon Mott is well placed to help rail industry colleagues hack a path through the institutional barriers and historical baggage that obstruct the efficient flow of freight trains across Europe.With 30 years’ experience in the highly competitive US rail freight environment behind him, Mott was instrumental in establishing NDX last year as a joint venture between German Railway (50%), Netherlands Railways (25%) and CSX (25%). ’Our first intermodal shuttle started up on January 2 running 10 round trips a week between Rotterdam’s Delta Terminal and Antwerpen’s Interferry Terminal.’On this busy route, the NDX shuttle transferring mainly deep sea containers between two hubs is competing head-on for business with similar operations that include Intercontainer-Interfrigo’s Delta Express, for example.Somewhat closer to the long term objectives of NDX is the Rotterdam – München (Riem) shuttle; this commenced on January 27, and operates five times a week. As continental as well as maritime loads are carried, the München train originates at the Delta Terminal and picks up additional loads at the Rail Service Centre (p401).Mott says NDX ’offers a door-to-door service with a single bill of lading, and we do that by chartering trains through the state railways. As part of that charter, or separately, we arrange for wagons, contract for terminal handling, and use an agent for the trucking. Our aim is also to have available swap bodies or piggyback trailers for customers who require them.’ The third NDX service is scheduled to begin on June 2, running three times a week between Hamburg (Billwerder) and Milano (Melzo). Neither this nor the Rotterdam – München route follow established maritime container flows, since Milano is normally served through Rotterdam and München through German ports. Mott points out that ’in both lanes we will be dependent to a significant degree on continental business in addition to modest amounts of maritime tonnage that currently moves by truck.’He stresses that NDX is ’port-neutral’ and is not in the business of favouring one port over another. ’We intend, over time, to provide service from all the major ports, and we want to remain on good terms with them all.’This highlights an important difference between NDXand the clutch of operators chartering intermodal shuttle trains out of the North Sea ports is that it has set its sights firmly on freight moving within Europe. ’Our initial focus is on maritime boxes just for the practical reason that they are much more concentrated’, says Mott. ’But we clearly see the bigger potential – and our longer term market – as being continental business.’Does that mean NDX intends to exploit EU Directive 91/440 and run its own trains? ’We take a pragmatic view. To compete with trucking on inland routes for continental business, we have to be even more efficient than we are now. If we can do that by working with the state railways, we have no intrinsic interest in running trains ourselves.’Mott concedes that ’open access and the fallout from 91/440 do at least provide some market leverage. It does allow us to say “if you’re not interested we’ll do it ourselves” – but obviously, the threat has to be credible, and we will do whatever we can and need to do to make it so. The decision will be made purely on economic factors because our only interest, at the end of the day, is to run a successful business and make money.’The frontier problemDelays at frontiers worry NDX, and the situation must improve if is to compete successfully for east – west traffic. ’Its a mess!’ Mott exclaims in evident frustration. ’Everyone is aware of it, but if there were easy solutions we would have seen them implemented already. We are working on ways of getting more locomotives running through, but they have been changing locos at the border for so long that it is not a terribly inefficient process – the savings are not as dramatic as you might think.’ Mott sees the failure to co-ordinate national freight timetables, resulting in hours of wasted time at frontiers, as ’a much bigger question. If I were to pick one area where people should focus their efforts, that would clearly be the place.’He is less certain about exactly where the difficulties lie. ’I can’t see inside their logic, but it would involve more work and a degree of co-ordination that doesn’t exist right now. I don’t think anyone is actively resisting timetable co-ordination; they are just not working on a way to implement it efficiently.’If ’timetabling should be the number one target for Freightways’, the second is ’co-ordinated management for through routes.’ Mott is not sure quite how this would work when fragmentation of vertically integrated railways is the current fashion in Europe, but he rejects the EC’s idea of a supranational body managing the EU’s railways as impractical; ’it has to be done on a route-by-route basis.’Invited to comment on how individual countries are responding pressure for a liberalised, competitive market in rail freight, he picks out the Netherlands and Sweden as ’furthest ahead’ with ’Britain in a league by itself.’He believes the senior management of DB ’want and are truly committed to change’, citing as evidence their willingness to take the biggest share in NDX. The commitment of middle management is less clear, though this may simply reflect a lack of understanding of how to go about creating change.’We have a very good working relationship with the Belgians’, but ’the French have a unique labour problem – and maybe they are just being more honest than some of the others about what their intentions are.’Americans could team upGiven the fact that Germany and Britain are major trading partners, it is remarkable that rail traffic between them is negligible. DB’s pricing strategy, which traditionally favoured Germany’s North Sea ports as a matter of national policy, is generally considered to be the main factor. Interest by Ed Burkhardt, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of English Welsh & Scottish Railway, in using NDX as a means of penetrating the German market was reported in RG 5.97 p269.Mott confirms that ’EWS is interested in getting into Germany and we are certainly talking to Ed. I suspect we will wind up with situations where we compete for business, and other situations where we co-operate. Actually, they are a group that we feel very comfortable with. One thing CSX and Wisconsin Central can bring to Europe is a uniquely American approach to on-rail competition. We are used to competing and co-operating simultaneously with other rail operators, and we know how to draw a line around common interest issues that make us collectively more efficient as an industry. That’s the kind of relationship that we feel in our contacts with EWS.’ oWe intend, over time, to provide service from all the major portsGordon MottNDX Intermodallast_img read more

Joseph Mariathasan: The unsurprising rise of populism

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first_imgFirst, the abuse of social media to distort public thinking is a major problem. The inability to distinguish fake news from real and the levelling of credibility between major news sites and fringe has led to miseducation on a massive scale. Sikorski argued that the Brexit Leave campaign issued “a billion ads with a tsunami of fake news”. That may be a controversial statement but what is less so is that, as he pointed out, the downside of social media is the anonymous targeting of individuals whose views are not agreed with. Such activities would be condemned in the real world, and Sikorski argues that they should be regulated, as people need to have educated views based on facts, not lies. Joseph Mariathasan considers Radek Sikorski’s keynote speech at this year’s IPE Conference in BerlinPoland has had the most successful 25 years in the last 400, declared Radek Sikorski, Poland’s former foreign minister in his keynote address at the IPE Conference & Awards in Berlin. As he pointed out, average salaries were now close to 70% of the EU average, and its GINI coefficient is dropping, indicating a more equal distribution of wealth.Yet, despite the huge improvement in living standards and opportunities, Poland has also been in the first wave of European countries electing populist governments. Sikorski raised some profound issues that are worth debating, whether one agrees with them or not. He sees a commonality behind the factors leading to the current political situations in Poland, Brexit and Donald Trump’s election at president in the US.Sikorski argues there are three key factors underlying all three phenomena and that have created vulnerabilities that need to be fixed. Radek Sikorski addresses the audience at this year’s IPE Conference in BerlinSikorski’s second point was the perception of a loss of control. In Poland, German chancellor Angela Merkel’s promise to allow a million refugees into her country caused consternation, as, under the Schengen rules, they can move anywhere. As Sikorski pointed out, Poland is the most ethnically homogeneous country in Europe. Sikorski argued that controlling who lives in your territory is a legal right and is not racism. Yet against that, he did not address the question of how Europe should have reacted to a refugee and humanitarian crisis on its borders.Finally, Sikorski raised the issue that the public perception of capitalism is that it is unfair. The rewards are not given as a function of ability in a just manner.Restoring confidence in ‘capitalism’ is certainly a worthy objective, but Sikorski’s proposed solutions, I fear, are only a very small part of any solution.He focused on three things: First, tax havens and a need to prevent EU citizens and companies from having accounts in tax havens; and second, banking bonuses based on the amount of loans bankers make. As he pointed out, Poland’s first wave of foreign debts were not paid back in full but had to be replaced by Brady bonds. Despite the losses for investors, the bankers who made the loans got paid their bonuses. And third, transparency of ownership. Thirty-five percent of London property, argued Sikorski, is foreign owned, and, as a result, areas of London are empty, with property being seen just as a safe store of value for foreign investors.Few would dispute the issues on capitalism Sikorski raises. But there are many other even more important issues he failed to mention – most notably perhaps, Thomas Picketty’s thesis in his best-selling book ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ that, as the rate of capital return in developed economies is persistently greater than the rate of economic growth, it will unduly reward the owners of capital rather than labour.Income inequality in OECD countries is at its highest level for the past half century. The average income of the richest 10% of the population is about nine times that of the poorest 10% across the OECD, up from seven times 25 years ago. Given that, is it so surprising we see the rise of populist movements across the world?Joseph Mariathasan is a contributing editor at IPElast_img read more

Lady Eagles Struggle Against Hawks

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first_img State budget vs. job creation – January 22, 2015 Bio This is placeholder textThis is placeholder text Latest Posts House fire in Winter Harbor – October 27, 2014 Hancock County Court News Nov. 3 thorugh Dec. 11 – January 22, 2015 HERMON — The Hermon Hawks took a 20-5 first period lead and cruised to a 64-40 win over the Ellsworth Eagles on Friday.Rachel Alley led a trio of double-figure scorers for Hermon with 11 points, Kayla Snow had 10 points and 10 rebounds and Ashley Thayer had 10 points.Morgan Card scored 12 points and Annika Firestone added nine for the Eagles.For more sports news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American. admin Latest posts by admin (see all)last_img

Blaming Balotelli for Liverpool’s woes is wrong – Ancelotti

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first_imgReal Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti says that fellow Italian Mario Balotelli should not be shouldering all the blame for Liverpool’s recent poor form.Liverpool’s 1-0 loss to Newcastle on Saturday was their fourth in 10 Premier League games this season and they have been beaten twice in their first three Champions League outings. By contrast, Brendan Rodgers’ side lost just six times in total last term as they came close to claiming the league title.Summer arrival Balotelli has been singled out by some as a key cause for the change in fortunes, not least because the £16 million signing has scored just once in 11 Premier League and Champions League games, but Rodgers has defended him and Ancelotti followed suit.”There is a lot of talk about Balotelli, too much,” Ancelotti said as Madrid prepared to face Liverpool at the Bernabeu on Tuesday. “He is a quality player who has joined a team which at the moment is missing an important player like [Luis] Suarez, who scored so many goals.”They need to look for another solution, find another style with new players. I do not believe that all of Liverpool’s problems at this moment are down to Balotelli, but he has to work to help the team come through this situation.”Balotelli was especially targeted after Madrid’s 3-0 Champions League at Anfield in October, when he was withdrawn by Rodgers at half-time after his side had been completely outclassed. After that first meeting Rodgers publicly criticised Balotelli for swapping shirts with opponent Pepe as he left the pitch, drawing further attention to what was already a controversial gesture.Ancelotti, who made light of the incident in his own post-match news conference at Anfield three weeks ago, again saw the funny side of what had happened.”Swapping shirts at half-time with an opponent is something very normal,” he said. “If Marcelo tomorrow swaps shirts with a player I will not take him off for that.”last_img read more