The Range Rover Velar 2018 instantly recognisable descendant of the original luxury SUV family


In Norway, minimalist design reigns. Clean lines and unfussy surfacing abounds, from the weather-beaten farmhouses and modern commercial buildings that dot the landscape, to the Scandinavian furniture and clothing carefully curated inside them. It’s all form-follows-function, it’s all gorgeous, and it’s no accident that none of it distracts from the country’s omnipresent scenic vistas. The same is true inside the Velar’s beautifully appointed cabin, where a brand-new infotainment interface, Touch Pro Duo, takes up residence in the center stack. The Intel-quad-core based system features twin 10-inch touchscreen TFT displays, one in the traditional mid-dash location, and the other canted just ahead of the drive selector, with a pair of ringed knobs poking through. The setup looks impressively simple — almost worryingly so. Land Rover has greatly reduced the amount of switchgear in the cabin, a practice that has become something of a car-designer obsession these days. The result of such approaches always seems to look pleasing, but too often comes with a heavy toll on ergonomics and usability. Fortunately, I’d have a couple of days behind the wheel to suss out whether that’s the case with the Velar.



Ryanair makes historical agreement to recognise British pilots union for the first time



( via– Tue, 30 Jan 2018) London, Uk – –

The British Airline Pilots’ Association will now officially represent the no-frills carrier’s UK-based pilots for the first time.

The UK’s pilots union has been given official recognition status by Ryanair for the first time in the airline’s 32-year history.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) said it had signed a “historic” voluntary trade union recognition agreement after the no-frills carrier signalled last month that it was willing to talk to pilot unions across Europe amid a string of disputes.

Ryanair was seen as wanting to limit disruption following a damaging blunder over rotas which led to its decision in the autumn to cancel flights, affecting almost 700,000 customers.

The climbdown over its 32-year refusal to recognise unions led to a planned pre-Christmas strike by Irish-based pilots being abandoned.

Balpa said Ryanair’s decision meant it would be representing all 600 of its employed pilots based in the UK.

General secretary Brian Strutton said: “Given Ryanair’s previous hostility towards unions, today’s agreement is an historic one.

“While we were initially sceptical about Ryanair’s sincerity in offering recognition to us and other unions, our conversations and meetings with them have shown that they are genuine in wanting a constructive trade union relationship.

“I am hopeful that this is the beginning of a strong and mutually beneficial relationship between Balpa and Ryanair and I urge Ryanair to agree deals with pilot unions in other countries and with cabin crew unions.”

Chief people officer at Ryanair, Eddie Wilson, said: “This agreement validates the decision of Ryanair’s Board in December to recognise unions, and the fact that we have delivered pay rises of up to 20% and union recognition for our pilots in our largest market, shows how serious Ryanair is about working constructively with unions that are willing to work constructively with us.

“This rapid progress in the UK is in marked contrast to some other EU countries where we are still waiting for a response to our recognition proposals and where some unions have failed to put these substantial pay increases to our pilots.

“We now call on these unions to stop wasting time and act quickly to deliver 20% pay increases to our pilots in February, and conclude formal recognition agreements, which they are presently sitting on.

“Ryanair will not allow these unions to delay pay increases to our pilots.

“Today’s agreement between Ryanair and Balpa shows that Ryanair can work with unions that wish to work with us to promote the interests of both our pilots and our customers.”

By James Sillars, Business Reporter



BP invests $5 million in U.S. mobile electric vehicle charging company FreeWire

( via — Tue, 30 Jan 2018) London, UK —

(Reuters) – BP Plc (BP.L) said it had invested $5 million (£3.6 million) in U.S. mobile electric vehicle charging company FreeWire, helping it provide rapid charging at its retail sites in Britain and Europe, as demand for cleaner vehicles is expected to soar.

BP joins rival Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), which last year agreed to buy Dutch-based NewMotion, the owner of one of Europe’s largest electric vehicle charging networks, marking the company’s first deal in electric mobility.

The expected rapid growth in the use of electric vehicles in the coming decades is threatening oil companies’ business model as demand for some road fuels could plateau as early as the late 2020s.

BP, whose venturing business invested in FreeWire, said it plans to roll out the San Francisco- based technology firm’s Mobi Charger units at selected retail sites in the United Kingdom and Europe this year.

“Mobility is changing and BP is committed to remaining the fuel retailer of choice into the future. EV charging will undoubtedly become an important part of our business, but customer demand and the technologies available are still evolving,” BP’s Downstream CEO, Tufan Erginbilgic, said.

By Noor Zainab Hussain and Ron Bousso



Addison Lee car service challenges rival Uber with global app bookings

( via — Wed, 24 Jan 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British premium car service Addison Lee said customers will be able to book journeys using their app in over 100 cities from Wednesday as it invests in $90 million (£63.85 million) worth of new vehicles in a global expansion drive, rivalling the likes of Uber.

The firm, which catered mainly for business customers in the British capital just a few years ago, has sought to widen its appeal and began operating cars under its own name in New York last year as it branches out from being a London operator.

Just five months ago, customers could only use the app to book journeys in London but the firm has been adding cities to reach the more than 100 locations available including Paris, Berlin and Beijing, focussed on Britons travelling abroad.

“We’ve effectively taken a high-quality network of affiliates around the world in 100 cities and we’ve digitised them,” Chief Executive Andy Boland told Reuters.

“That really talks to an international traveller demographic who wants to be able to join up car services,” he said.

Addison Lee competes with UberBLACK, the taxi app’s luxury service, transfer service Blacklane and in New York with executive transport firms such as Carey.

The company will invest in over 2,000 vehicles as it increases the number of drivers it has in London by around 20 percent to 6,000 by the end of the year and reach 1,000 in New York by Easter.

The firm, London’s second-biggest private hire operator, had its licence renewed until the end of February 2023 earlier this month, whilst Uber was deemed unfit to run a taxi service by the city’s regulator, a decision which it is appealing.

Reporting By Costas Pitas


London’s new electric black cabs ready for passengers

TRT World

 ( via – – Tue, 23 Jan, 2018) London, Uk – –

The first of London’s new electric black taxis is ready to pick up passengers after it was handed over to a driver this week.

Black cab driver David Harris is the first to receive the keys to London Electric Vehicle Company’s new TX electric taxi, which has six passenger seats, power sockets and USB ports, as well as on-board Wi-Fi.

The new taxis, which cost £55,599, have an advanced battery electric powertrain with a small back-up petrol generator that gives a total range of up to 400 miles, including 80 miles pure electric driving.

Harris expects to save £500-£600 a month by switching from his current cab to the electric TX in fuel savings, servicing and overall running costs.

Chris Gubbey, chief executive of the LEVC, said: “It’s the first of many clean-air, zero emission taxis that will be hitting the streets of London, and we are just as excited as David is. Hearing how this vehicle will impact his life, and the vast savings he will make month after month, is just fantastic. We can’t wait to see and hear the reaction from passengers as they experience the new TX for the first time.”

By Rebecca Smith


Richard Branson : Take a look at a day in the life of the Billionaire


Want to see what a day in my life is like? View this video for a busy day in London with Richard Branson. Watch as he goes from filming adverts to doing to Mobot,  turning on Christmas lights, agreeing Virgin Trains’ franchise extension to premiering Breaking The Taboo.



Heathrow in bid to cut costs plan to unveil a shorter cheaper third runway


( via – – Wed, 17 Jan 2018) London, Uk – –

Proposal sees 300 metres cut from runway in effort to help reduce costs to £15bn, but opponents say move changes forecasted economic benefits

Heathrow is to unveil proposals for a shorter, cheaper third runway in a public consultation to help push its expansion plans through.

The airport will propose cutting 300 metres from the length of the northwestern runway, a scheme approved by the government following the Airports Commission process, in an attempt to cut costs.

Although the government has backed Heathrow’s expansion, it has also said it must not mean higher charges for airlines, which would probably be passed on to passengers. British Airways, which operates about half the flights at Heathrow, had complained bitterly about the expected cost of the new runway. Heathrow now believes it can deliver the runway for £14.3bn, cutting £2.5bn from the original price, and keeping charges “close to” today’s levels.

Plans for a brand new terminal could also be jettisoned in favour of expanding around its two main existing terminals, with construction phased to cut costs.

The shorter runway will still require the M25 to be moved 150 metres west, with the airport now proposing that Britain’s busiest motorway be accommodated in a shallower tunnel under a slightly ramped runway.

The options, including whether the shorter runway would be located to the western or eastern end of where the full-length 3.5km runway (2.1 miles) would lie, will be presented to the public in 40 events over a 10-week consultation.

Heathrow hopes that its consultation – independent of government consultations in the planning process – will allow it to present its best case and pre-empt some objections ahead of a crucial parliamentary vote expected this year on the national policy statement on aviation, which gives the go-ahead for another runway. The airport has pledged higher compensation to residents, a six-and-a-half-hour ban on scheduled night flights, and to stay within air quality limits.

Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s executive director for expansion, said: “We need feedback to help deliver this opportunity responsibly and to create a long-term legacy both at a local and national level. Heathrow is consulting to ensure that we deliver benefits for our passengers, businesses across the country but also, importantly, for those neighbours closest to us.”

Opponents of expansion expressed incredulity that Heathrow was proposing a shorter runway than in its original plan, while a source close to other schemes considered by the government suggested any significant changes to the project could face legal challenges.

John Stewart, chair of the anti-Heathrow expansion group Hacan, said: “The Airport Commission calculations of economic benefits were on the basis of the capacity of a full-length runway. A shorter runway could open a can of worms, and invite a judicial review from Heathrow Hub or even Gatwick.”

The consultation will also discuss the redesign of air space, which will affect flight paths over London and beyond. Although the reform is being driven independently of Heathrow, the likely impact would be to further concentrate air traffic over the same routes.

Stewart said Hacan would “engage positively – especially on the principle of flight path changes, spreading the burden more fairly”.

Should parliament back expansion, Heathrow will need to consult further on the details before submitting plans, with final approval not expected before 2021. A thrid runway is not expected to be operational before 2025 at the earliest.

By Gwyn Topham


CES 2018: internet-connected Wine Bottle Opener


Coravin has unveiled an internet-connected version of the cork-sealing gadget it makes to preserve bottled wine. By linking the Model Eleven to an app, the US firm says it has been able to introduce several new features. These include the ability to match vintages with classic rock albums. The BBC’s Chris Foxx was given a demo at the CES tech show in Las Vegas.



International students worth £20bn to the UK economy report claims

( via – – Thur, 11 Jan 2018) London, Uk – –

International students are worth £20bn to the UK economy, says a report from the Higher Education Policy Institute.

The analysis says on top of tuition fees, their spending has become a major factor in supporting local economies.

London alone gains £4.6bn – with Sheffield the biggest beneficiary in proportion to its economy.

The think tank’s director, Nick Hillman, says the figures support calls to remove students from immigration targets.

There are about 230,000 students arriving each year for university courses in the UK – most of them postgraduates, with China the most common country of origin.

Spending power

The analysis, carried out by London Economics, calculated the financial contribution of overseas students, such as spending on tuition and living expenses, and balanced that against costs, including the extra pressure on local services and non-repayment of loans.

Mr Hillman says the report provides comprehensive evidence that overseas students are a significant benefit and that students from outside the European Union, who pay higher fees, are worth £102,000 each to the UK economy.

“International students bring economic benefits to the UK that are worth 10 times the costs of hosting them,” says Mr Hillman.

“Fewer international students would mean a lot fewer jobs in all areas of the UK, because international students spend money in their universities, in their local economies,” he says.

“It is literally the sandwich shops, the bike shops, the taxi firms; it is the night clubs, it’s the bookshops.

“Without international students, some of the local companies might go bust. Some of the local resident population would lose their jobs,” says Mr Hillman.

The Higher Education Policy Institute, which carried out the study with education company Kaplan, argues that the UK should have a more positive approach to students from overseas – and separate them from the wider debate about immigration.

Regional winners

The institute quotes a recent report from India’s Hindustan Times that told its readers that the UK had many top universities, “but they also offer the most student-hostile government in the world”.

While the institute argues the students should be removed from the wider debate about reducing net migration, the Home Office said there were “no plans” for such a change to how migration targets were measured.

“There is no limit to the number of genuine international students that can come to the UK to study and we very much value the contribution that they make,” said a Home Office spokeswoman.

The Home Office says the Migration Advisory Committee is also carrying out an assessment of the economic impact which will provide evidence for shaping the “future migration system”.

The Higher Education Policy Institute analysis also carried out a regional breakdown of the economic impact of international students, calculating that each constituency on average gained £31.3m.

London has the biggest share of overseas students – but the study shows that in relative terms, smaller cities, with more than one university, can have a greater impact from their spending.

The study breaks down the financial impact of international students by parliamentary constituency.

Top 10 constituencies with biggest economic impact from international students

  1. Sheffield Central
  2. Newcastle upon Tyne
  3. Nottingham South
  4. Oxford East
  5. Manchester Central
  6. Holborn and St Pancras (London)
  7. Liverpool, Riverside
  8. Cambridge
  9. East Ham (London)
  10. Birmingham, Ladywood

By  Sean Coughlan


Rail Fares see Largest Increase in Five Years


( via– Tue, 2 Jan 2018) London, Uk – –

London Victoria/Wikimedia Commons

Some passengers catching a train on the first working day of 2018 will be hit with a season ticket price rise of more than £100.

Commuters are being “priced out of going to work” by the largest rail fare increase in five years, according to a campaign group.

Passengers catching a train on the first working day of 2018 will be hit with an average ticket price rise of 3.4%, with some commuter routes set for price hikes of more than £100.

Protests are taking place at around 40 railway stations up and down the country on Tuesday, with some commuters spending up to five times as much of their salary on season tickets as people on the continent.

Top five average increases by operator:

  • 4.7% – Northern.
  • 4.6% – TransPennine Express.
  • 4.1% – CrossCountry.
  • 3.6% – Merseyrail.
  • 3.4% – Virgin Trains East Coast, Greater Anglia, London Overground and TfL Rail Travelcards and price caps.

‘Raw deal’: Trains must be run for passengers

Season tickets into London from Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency are to rise by £104 to £3,092 and one from Liverpool to Manchester is going up by £108 to £3,152, with the average cost to increase by a third faster than wages this year.

Last year the average price hike was 2.3%, with season tickets into London terminals going up by £74, compared to £146 this year.

Bruce Williamson, of campaign group Railfuture, said: “It’s no wonder that poor value for money is the number one concern of rail travellers, with British rail fares amongst the most expensive in Europe.

“Fares are rising faster than most people’s wages so they are taking a larger slice of their income. People are being priced out of going to work.”

 How much will your rail fare go up by?

Matthew Pugh, 21, who travels from his parents’ home in Andover to work for a film production company in the capital, told Sky News: “It’s just so frustrating. You work so hard and you get up so early and that money’s going towards something that doesn’t even work in the first place.

“Trains are constantly late, you don’t get any information and I wonder ‘am I going to have to move to London?’, which at the moment just isn’t affordable for me.”

A Department for Transport spokesman justified the increase to prices by pointing towards the Government’s investment in several ambitious rail projects, including Crossrail.

Under 30s to benefit from new ‘millennial’ railcards

“We are investing in the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian times to improve services for passengers – providing faster and better, more comfortable trains with extra seats,” he told Sky News.

“This includes the first trains running though London on the Crossrail project, an entirely new Thameslink rail service and continuing work on the transformative Great North Rail Project.

“We keep fare prices under constant review and the price rises for this year are capped in line with inflation, with 97p out of every £1 paid going back into the railway.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan – who has pledged to freeze all bus and tram fares and single pay-as-you-go fares on the Tube until 2020 – described the fare hikes for those heading into the capital as “eye-watering”.

“It’s time for the Government and private rail companies to step up and give the passengers the service they deserve at a price they deserve,” he added.

Mr Khan’s sentiments were shared by Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union general secretary Mick Cash, who has echoed Labour’s call for the railways to be nationalised.

In a bid to soften the blow of the fare increases, some rail operators have come up with money-saving schemes, such as The Key introduced by Southeastern and the Smart Ticket by Abellio, which runs the Greater Anglia network.

Firms ‘mislead’ customers by selling tickets for trains that will not run

But Bridget Fox, from the Campaign for Better Transport, says there needs to much broader innovation and a freeze on ticket prices in the short-term.

She told Sky News: “The number of people taking season tickets is falling because they are becoming unaffordable and they don’t reflect the way that people work – part-time or flexibly.

“We’d like to see a fares’ freeze to get things back in balance, like how motorists are enjoying a fuel duty freeze. We do need to invest in the railway but tickets need to be priced in a way that’s fair.”

The backlash comes as the Government faces increased scrutiny over the ownership of Britain’s rail operators, with a recent investigation finding that 57% of passenger journeys in the 12 months to September were on foreign-owned services – mainly German and Dutch.

Passengers can also expect further misery later this month, with more RMT strikes expected over the long-running dispute over the role of guards on trains.




Airbus ends the year with $60bn orders for its A320 airliners

Wikimedia commons

( via – – Fri, 29 Dec, 2017) London, Uk – –

Airbus has ended the year with a near-$60bn rush of orders for its bestselling A320 airliner, announcing 100 new orders and confirming details of a massive sale revealed last month.

On Friday, China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings agreed a deal to acquire 50 A320neo jets worth $5.4bn at list prices.

A day earlier, Toulouse-based Airbus said Dutch leasing company AerCap had ordered another 50 A320neos.

Also on Thursday, Airbus finalised a deal announced last month with no-frills airline owner Indigo Partners for a total of 430 of A320neos and its larger sister aircraft the A321neo.

The pan-European plane-maker said the Indigo order – which will see jets go to budget carriers Wizz, Frontier, JetSMART and Volaris – was its largest deal ever, and was worth $49.5bn at list prices.

However, the scale of all the orders means that the buyers are likely to be able to negotiate substantial discounts.

The A320neo – a modernised version of the A320, equipped with more efficient engines – has proved a huge hit with customers. Airbus has so far taken orders for 5,800 of the aircraft, with the company claiming to have a 60pc market share, something strongly disputed by US rival Boeing whose 737 airliner is a direct competitor.

Wings for the A320 family are built at the Airbus plant in Broughton, North Wales, and the aircraft are assembled at plants in Toulouse, Hamburg, Tianjin in China and also Mobile, Alabama.

John Leahy, Airbus’s legendary head of sales and who is retiring to be replaced by Rolls-Royce civil aerospace chief Eric Schulz, called the latest sales: “a great endorsement for our A320 family of aircraft”.

The rush of good news from Airbus came amid growing talk that its A380 superjumbo could be axed unless it agrees a new order from Emirates, the biggest operator of the double-decker airliner.

Airbus called reports of jet’s potential demise “speculation” but the company has failed to land any orders for the A380 for two years and is slowing the production rate to just six a year.

The company had been expected to reveal at November’s Dubai airshow that Emirates was buying 36 more A380s, adding to the 142 it has in service or on order.

By Alan Tovey



The New 2018 Mercedes S Class Coupe


2018 Mercedes S Class Coupe

New 2018 Mercedes S-Class Coupé will soon benefit from the same extensive innovations that have just been introduced on the saloon. These include new or functionally considerably extended driving assistance systems, the modern control and display concept with Widescreen Cockpit and new generation of steering wheels, integrated ENERGIZING comfort control and the latest infotainment generation. Exclusive to both of the two-door models and part of the standard equipment specification are innovative OLED tail lamps. The new V8 biturbo engine in the S 560 Coupé is even more dynamic. It develops 469 horsepower (345 kW) with a peak torque of 700 Nm. The Coupé with V6 petrol engine and a rated output of 367 HP (270 kW) is now called the S 450 The new S63 AMG 4MATIC+ coupé develops 612 HP (450 kW) and 900 Nm of torque and the V12 engine under the hood of the S65 AMG develops 630 HP (463 kW) and 1000 Nm of torque.



New electric London taxi to be exported to Norway

London Electric Taxi/Flickr

( via — Thur, 21 Dec 2017) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – London’s black cab-maker said its new electric taxi will be exported to Norway next year, its second foreign market as the Chinese Geely-owned firm pursues a major expansion plan.

he London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) picked Amsterdam earlier this year as its first overseas destination, where around 225 vehicles will be used as part of a service which transports the elderly and disabled.

LEVC is boosting its volumes as part of a plan which will see it sell roughly half of around 10,000 vehicles abroad by the turn of the decade, including a new van.

It opened a new factory in central England in March, as part of a turnaround for the company which was saved from bankruptcy nearly five years ago by Geely.

Norway has the world’s highest rate of battery-vehicle ownership, thanks to generous tax breaks, with taxi firms seeking to electrify their fleets.

The Oslo-based firm Autoindustri will begin receiving deliveries of the model in the first quarter of 2018, LEVC said on Thursday.

“There are huge opportunities ahead for the business in Norway and we are looking forward to working with Autoindustri to make them a reality,” said LEVC Chief Executive Chris Gubbey.

By Costas Pitas


Large parts of Britain still receiving inadequate mobile signal despite paying for a full service

( via – – Mon, 18 Dec 2017) London, Uk – –

Large parts of Britain are still receiving an inadequate mobile signal and “urgent and radical” action is needed to solve the problem, according to Lord Adonis, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission.

Rural areas and those near railway lines were particularly affected despite customers paying for a full service, he said, something unacceptable “with mobile telecommunications now firmly established at the heart of modern society and the economy, and ubiquitous access to mobile networks increasingly viewed by consumers as a basic right”.

Less than half of the UK receives full 4G coverage from all four major mobile operators, while 30pc of the country cannot make reliable calls and send text messages with every big provider.

Network operators are expected to deliver coverage to 90pc of the country but research indicates they are achieving only around 80pc in practice.

“In an age when access to a mobile signal is regarded as a must-have, it is deplorable that even in areas previously considered to have strong coverage, operators are still delivering such poor services that customers can struggle to make a quick phone call,” Lord Adonis wrote to Ofcom’s chief executive, Sharon White.

“This new measure for coverage comes almost a year to the day after we first warned about the poor mobile signal communities can face, but now suggests the situation is even worse than we thought. It demonstrates the need for urgent and radical action to tackle this issue immediately, ahead of new mobile spectrum being auctioned and 5G technology being rolled out.”

Lord Adonis wants Ofcom to require mobile operators to give better ­geographic coverage as part of their ­licensing ­requirements, and to ramp up enforcement action.

“Given the legally binding nature of the agreement signed with network operators in 2014/15 I would expect ­Ofcom to consider all possible enforcement action against any operator which does not meet its obligation to provide coverage to 90pc of the UK’s land mass by the end of 2017, based on existing signal strength thresholds,” Lord Adonis wrote. He also called on the regulator to “urgently propose an action plan” to the Government.

Steve Unger, Ofcom’s chief technology officer, said: “We completely agree that mobile coverage must urgently improve, which will take concerted action from industry, government and the regulator.

“We’re playing our part by enforcing rules for better coverage, and preparing to set new rules in operators’ licences. We’re also boosting the capacity of mobile networks by releasing new airwaves, and helping to improve coverage on trains.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: “There is a clear need for rapid improvement on mobile coverage. We’ve recently removed outdated restrictions, giving mobile operators more freedom to improve their networks including hard-to-reach rural areas.

“But industry need to play their part too through continued investment and improvement in their networks, making sure that customers are not paying for services they don’t receive.”




Lloyds Sell London headquarters to Chinese property investment company

Elliott Brown/

( via — Thur, 7 Dec 2017) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Lloyds Banking Group said it has sold its London headquarters to a Chinese property investment company for an undisclosed price.

Under the terms of the sale to Hengli Investments Holding, Lloyds will lease back the 25 Gresham Street building, which it has occupied since its construction, for the next 20 years. The building sits in the heart of the City of London’s financial district.

The sharp drop in the value of sterling following Britain’s vote last year to leave the European Union has lured foreign investors into the British real estate market.

That coincided with plans outlined by Lloyds in 2016 to cut its non-branch property portfolio by 30 percent as part of a cost-cutting drive. It said at the time that the initiative would result in one-off savings of 100 million pounds and an additional 100 million pounds in run-rate savings by the end of 2018.

There will be no disruption to Lloyds’ operations or staff in the building as a result of the sale, a spokeswoman said.

“The transaction enables the group to capitalise on the market conditions and realise value in its property portfolio for shareholders,” she continued.

According to Savills, a real estate agency that advised Hengli Investments Holding on the deal, the purchase of the 119,742 sq foot (11,124 sq m) building is the firm’s first purchase in the UK.

Chen Chang Wei, chairman of Hengli Investments Holding, said the firm was pleased to have reached a deal on the property in less than a month, and that it would continue to consider other investment opportunities locally.

By Emma Rumney

“Dieselgate” Volkswagen executive given seven years jail sentence



VW has so far refused to pay out to drivers in the UK and in wider Europe, claiming it only broke the law in the US

( via – – Thu, 7 Dec 2017) London, Uk – –

A former Volkswagen executive has been sentenced to seven years in jail and given a $400,000 (£300,000) fine after pleading guilty to helping the German carmaker cheat on diesel emissions tests.

The “dieselgate” scandal has cost Volkswagen as much as $30bn in fines, buybacks and settlements since 2015 when it admitted fitting 11m diesel vehicles worldwide with so-called defeat devices to suppress emissions of nitrogen oxide during tests. These allowed vehicles to cheat pollution tests.

However, Oliver Schmidt, a German national who headed up VW’s environmental and engineering office in Michigan, is only the second person to receive jail time in the US for his role in the scheme.

The first was a company engineer, James Liang, who was handed only a 40-month jail term in August for conspiracy to defraud the US government and violating the clean air act. He is appealing this.

Schmidt had been looking to limit his own sentence to 40 months in jail, with court papers filed last week showing Schmidt had said he only learnt about the scheme in the summer of 2015, at the end of the scandal.

FAQ | Volkswagen emissions scandal

What did VW do?

The company falsified emissions data on its diesel vehicles, pretending they were cleaner than they are

How exactly..?

By installing a piece of software into computers on its cars that recognise when the car is being tested – a so-called “defeat device”. This fine-tunes the engine’s performance to limit nitrogen oxide emissions. When used on the road, the emissions levels shoot back up

How widespread is the problem?

11m cars worldwide had the software installed; 1.2m of them were in the UK

Which models are involved?

The allegations, which have been admitted by VW, cover the Jetta, Beetle, Audi A3 and Golf models from 2009 to 2015 and the Passat in 2014 and 2015. Audi, Seat and Skoda cars are also affected, as well as VW vans. Some diesel and petrol vehicles also have “irregularities” around carbon dioxide emissions.

What happens next?

VW offered to fix affected models and started the recall in January 2016. It is facing investigations in over a dozen countries as well as lawsuits from motorists.

As of March 2017, the company had not reached a compensation agreement with British motorists and the transport minister was considering legal action against VW.

The EU Commission has named the UK among seven countries against which it will take legal action for their inadequate consumer protection regarding this scandal.

However, US federal officials sought the maximum sentence of seven years, saying Schmidt had played a key part in concealing the scheme from regulators given that he held a “leadership role within VW”.

“As a consequence of that role, he was literally in the room for important decisions during the height of the criminal scheme.”

They had also argued that he encouraged “key engineers” at VW to destroy documents relating to the scandal.

While VW has agreed to pay compensation to drivers in the US caught up in the scandal, it has so far refused to pay out to drivers in the UK and in wider Europe, claiming it only broke the law in the US.

However, it was ordered to recall cars in the UK fitted with defeat devices, and in September said it had fixed 775,000 of the 1.15m cars affected.


Uk’s biggest train fares increase comes into effect January 2018

( via – – Tue, 5 Dec 2017) London, Uk – –

Train fares in Britain will go up by an average of 3.4% from 2 January.

The increase, the biggest since 2013, covers regulated fares, which includes season tickets, and unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets.

The Rail Delivery Group admitted it was a “significant” rise, but said that more than 97% of fare income went back into improving and running the railway.

A passenger group said the rise was “a chill wind” and the RMT union called it a “kick in the teeth” for travellers.

The rise in regulated fares had already been capped at July’s Retail Prices Index inflation rate of 3.6%.

The fare increase is above the latest Consumer Prices Index inflation figure of 3%, which was a five-and-a-half year high.

  • Are you joining the ‘£5k commuter club’?

The chief executive of passenger watchdog Transport Focus, Anthony Smith, said: “While substantial, welcome investment in new trains and improved track and signals is continuing, passengers are still seeing the basic promises made by the rail industry broken on too many days.”

One in nine trains (12%) has arrived late at its destination in the past 12 months.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union general secretary Mick Cash said: “For public sector workers and many others in our communities who have had their pay and benefits capped or frozen by this government, these fare increases are another twist of the economic knife.

“The private train companies are laughing all the way to the bank.”

Paul Plummer, Rail Delivery Group chief executive, told the BBC’s Today programme: “We are very aware of the pressures on people and the state of the economy and are making sure everything we do is looking to improve and change and make the best use of that money.”

Mr Plummer admitted it was “a significant increase” – the highest since fares rose by 3.9% in January 2013.

Analysis: Richard Westcott, BBC transport correspondent

You might think that popularity is a good thing, but it’s causing the railways some problems.

Here’s some examples. Passenger numbers on routes into King’s Cross have rocketed by 70% in the past 14 years. On Southern trains, passenger numbers coming into London have doubled in 12 years.

That’s got to be good for easing congestion and reducing vehicle pollution… but much of our rail network is still Victorian and it’s buckling under the strain of all those extra people.

There is a push to bring in new trains, stations and better lines, but it’s difficult to upgrade things while keeping them open and it’s seriously expensive.

The money’s got to come from somewhere and in recent years it’s the fare payer that’s been asked to pick up a bigger proportion of the tab.

It means that, year in and year out, many people have seen their season ticket go up much more than their salary, if they’ve had a salary rise at all.


Figures published by the Office of Rail and Road in October showed that £4.2bn was given to the rail industry in 2016-17 – a drop of nearly 13% on the previous year, taking inflation into account.

The Rail Delivery Group said that private investment in rail reached a record £925m in 2016-17.Figures published by the Office of Rail and Road in October showed that £4.2bn was given to the rail industry in 2016-17 – a drop of nearly 13% on the previous year, taking inflation into account.

The Rail Delivery Group said that private investment in rail reached a record £925m in 2016-17.

It added that in the next 18 months, services around the country would be improved with more trains and better services and stations.

Routes to benefit include Crossrail, Thameslink, Edinburgh to Glasgow, Great Western and Waterloo and the South West while there will also be upgrades in the Midlands and the North.

Selection of new annual season ticket costs from January 2018

Brighton to London – £4,332 – £148 increase

Gloucester to Birmingham – £4,108 – £140 increase

Woking to London – £3,248 – £112 increase

Liverpool to Manchester – £3,152 – £108 increase

Maidenhead to London – £3,092 – £104 increase