Czech Railways have announced a 325-million-crown-tender for the purchase of the wireless communication system GSM-R, to be installed in 600 of its trains. After consultation with the Ministry of Transport, Czech Railways was able to secure EU funds, which will finance fifty percent of the tender. The GSM-R system facilitates communication between trains and railway control centers.
Traffic police are out in force for the weekend conducting a security operation along the country’s main roads and highways. A spokeswoman said the main focus would be on alcohol and speeding, the most frequent cause of death on Czech roads. Since the start of the summer holidays the police have registered 127 road deaths. There is an ongoing debate on the Czech political scene as to whether the law should be changed from zero tolerance of alcohol to a single beer. Both the prime minister and transport minister are strongly against the idea, saying it would only encourage more drivers to drink.
An engine driver is being investigated by the police for turning up for work heavily intoxicated. The forty-nine-year-old train driver turned up for his shift and drove the engine from the depot to the station where he was asked to take a breathalyzer test by his supervisor, who’d been alerted to the problem. When he refused to do so his superior called the police who found that the man had a blood alcohol content of 4 per mille. He is likely to be charged with presenting a public health risk and may face a year in prison.
Transport in the north of the country remains severely restricted with many towns and villages are only accessible by long detours. Some routes can only be covered by a combination of rail and bus transport due to the fact that both railway lines and roads have been damaged. The authorities have appealed to the public not to drive to the stricken region if possible in order to facilitate clean-up operations. Emergency crews are working around the clock dealing with mud-slides, collapsed bridges and roads.
A 48-year-old pilot in the area of Vsetín in the east of the country suffered serious injury on Sunday morning when he crashed his ultra-light plane – hitting a tree in foggy conditions. An ambulance took him to hospital in Valašske Meziříčí. Fire fighters secured the scene. The incident will be investigated by an inspection team.
The boom in transport construction is over, at least for the near future: that is the message new Transport Minister Vít Bárta sent on Tuesday after meeting with representatives of construction companies. Mr Bárta, like fellow ministers, is under pressure to introduce major cost-cutting measures in line with the government’s plan to slash the planned deficit in 2011 by more than 58 billion crowns. As a result, the Transport Ministry reportedly wants to freeze up to around 50 construction projects, including the completion of part of the D3 highway
Ninety-seven people were killed in traffic accidents in the Czech Republic in July. This is the third lowest number of people to die on Czech roads in the month of July for the past twenty years. Police statistics revealed that the first half of the month demanded more victims than the second half. The ninth of July marked a tragic peak in road deaths: twelve people died on Czech streets on that day alone. The year with the highest number of traffic deaths for the month of July was 2003, when 159 people were killed in road accidents.
A team of experts from the Ministry of Health has found that a blood alcohol concentration of 0.24 pro mille and below does not affect the performance or judgment of drivers. In its Saturday edition, the daily Lidové noviny reported that the ministry has instructed traffic police to no longer pursue cases of drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.24 pro mille or below. Previously, any alcohol consumption prior to driving was illegal in the Czech Republic. Many other European countries are considering the introduction of 0.00 pro mille limits.
Five people were killed in a car accident on a motorway near Copenhagen early on Saturday morning. Four of the passengers were Czechs working in Denmark; the nationality of the fifth victim is yet unknown. A spokeswoman for the Czech embassy in Copenhagen confirmed the information but says no further details regarding the identity of the victims are available at the moment. The car was travelling above the speed limit when it hit a crash barrier on the side of the road, a witness told the press. Police say that three of the passengers were sitting in the back of the vehicle, which had no seats or seat belts. According to a local paper, this accident is one of the worst to happen near the Danish capital in several years.
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