Spaceplanes, trains and automobiles

This week sees the publication of an independent review into the travel chaos that saw around 75,000 rail passengers stranded when five Eurostar trains broke down inside the Channel Tunnel in December.

Led by Christopher Garnett and Claude Gressier, the joint chairmen of the Eurostar Independent Review, the report will address issues around why the trains stopped running, contingency planning, arrangements with Eurotunnel and passenger care.

The review comes days after RMT members working for Eurostar passed a vote of no confidence in the company’s senior management and three weeks after the company posted record ticket sales worth £675.5m for 2009. These figures include the period of disruption in services between 18-20 December 2009.

From public to private transport, and news that Toyota is likely to resume production at several facilities in North America following the well publicised problems with faulty accelerator pedals in certain models.

So far, 7.27 million vehicles have been affected by the global recall as a result of the accelerator pedal becoming ‘mechanically stuck in a partially depressed position or returning slowly to the idle position’.

Repairs to the 180,000 vehicles recalled in the UK – including certain Aygo MMT, iQ, Yaris, Auris, Corolla, Verso and Avensis models – are to begin on February 10.

Meanwhile, the company is also to recall some 270,000 of the latest model of the Prius in the US and Japan because of concerns over a ’software glitch’ on the braking system; the recall could also be extended to Europe.

Public transport takes on a new twist in Scotland today where Stagecoach are to demonstrate the ‘amfibus’, a public conveyance that can operate in water and on roads.

Stagecoach believe the amphibious craft could provide a regular passenger service between Braehead to Clydebank, making use of slipways at Renfrew and Yoker.

In operation, the amfibus would travel by road from Braehead to the Renfrew ferry slipway, motor across the River Clyde to Yoker and then continue on road to Clydebank.

Built in Holland by Dutch Amphibious Transport Vehicles, the £700,000 amfibus can travel at eight knots, carrying 50 passengers.

Still in Scotland and in another mode of travel entirely, a report is expected this week from the joint industry/government Innovation and Growth Team that will back Virgin Galactic in its bid to launch space tourists from RAF Lossiemouth.

According to The Sunday Times, Logica chief executive Andy Green is backing the bid, claiming that Virgin Galactic flights from Scotland would help stimulate Britain’s space industry.

Jason Ford

News editor