Mail on rail under threat

first_imgIT IS extraordinary that Europe’s railways successfully offer fast, frequent inter-city passenger services, but that several of them cannot provide the speed and reliability needed for mail traffic. Deutsche Post Transport stopped using rail in 1996, and despite a 1998 plan to launch dedicated overnight trains for mail and packages jointly with global parcels delivery group UPS, spectacularly little progress has been made. French National Railways has lost all but its TGV postal services and a single route with classic rolling stock between Paris and Besançon. Postal rail traffic is no more in the Netherlands, and is being cut back in Switzerland.In Britain rail operators are threatened with losing a substantial chunk of their remaining postal traffic. Post Office Chief Executive John Roberts warned at the opening of a £6m mail terminal in Bristol on July 21 that better performance and flexibility were needed. ’I hope you understand that The Post Office’s continued use of rail will not – and cannot be – at any price’, he told guests, adding that even after investing £150m in its Railnet network in the last six years, it was ’on the basis of a belief we would get the service we need.’ The arrangements for mail traffic in Britain are complex, with The Post Office contracting with English Welsh & Scottish Railway to run the trains and negotiate paths with Railtrack. A target of 95% of arrivals within 10min of schedule has been consistently undershot, and only in the last two months has this been approached.Roberts criticised Railtrack for its decision to remove access to the London area mail hub at Willesden over the coming Christmas and New Year holiday because of upgrading work on the West Coast Main Line. He was incensed that ’as a major customer there was not even any consultation about a change that could affect major amounts of our customers’ mail at this key time of the year.’ The Post Office challenged the decision and Railtrack eventually backed down. But the episode damaged rail’s credibility at a critical time – The Post Office must shortly decide whether to replace its fleet of Travelling Post Office sorting vehicles. These are MkI coaches that cannot legally run after December 2002 without expensive modifications to prevent over-ride, and then only for two more years.last_img read more

Is Rohit Sharma the next Dhoni? | Rohit Sharma…

first_imgMumbai: Rohit Sharma has made a name for himself in Indian cricket with his move to the role of opening batsman. Since then, Rohit has set several records. Apart from international victories, he has led the Mumbai Indians to four titles in the IPL. Rohit played 224 ODIs, 108 Twenty20s and 32 Tests for India. He has scored 14029 runs so far in all three formats. He has three double centuries in ODIs.As the captain of the Indian team’s next MS. Indian cricketer Suresh Raina has recently said that Rohit Sharma will be Dhoni. Rohit will be the next Dhoni in the Indian cricket team. He is calm, attentive and gives confidence to the players, I have seen all this. He likes to lead the team – former South African cricketer J.P. Suresh Raina said in a podcast with Duminy.But Rohit said he did not want comparisons with Dhoni. Rohit Suresh Raina’s statement was made clear in a Q&A session on Twitter. I had heard about Suresh Raina’s reaction. But M.S. Dhoni is not like anyone. No one can be like him. I believe such comparisons are not necessary. All individuals are different. Everyone can have strengths and weaknesses – Rohit SharmaFans have compared Rohit Sharma to Dhoni, citing his prowess in the IPL and international cricket. Rohit Sharma is the best captain in the history of the IPL. Under Rohit, Mumbai have won the IPL four times. Dhoni has won three titles for the Chennai Super Kings. Fans are waiting for their performances in the 13th edition of the IPL, which takes place in the UAE in September-November. The IPL matches will be played in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah from September 19 to November 10.English Summary: Rohit Sharma responds after Suresh Raina tags him as the ‘next MS Dhoni’last_img read more

Florida shooting survivor tells rally ‘it’s time for victims’ to change gun laws

first_imgJoe Raedle/Getty Images(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) — Teen survivors of the shooting massacre at a Florida high school this week were among the speakers at a rally for firearm-safety legislation that drew a passionate, sign-waving crowd of hundreds of gun control supporters in Fort Lauderdale.Emma Gonzalez, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 students and staff were killed Wednesday, wiped tears as she urged the audience at the Saturday rally to fight for firearms restrictions to help prevent further mass shootings.After Gonzalez slammed politicians who accept contributions from the NRA, saying they should be ashamed, the crowd began loudly chanting, “Shame on you! Shame on you!”The student said she and her classmates in AP classes at the high school often debated gun control and were discussing it even as the shooting broke out Wednesday.But she like other students who spoke at the rally said the time for talk is over and now elected officials must take action or the public will.“If all our government and president can do is send thoughts and prayers then it’s time for victims to be the change we need to be,” Gonzalez said.Another student from the high school, David Hogg, urged the crowd: “Get out there and vote.”Even beyond voting, Hogg said, “Run for office.’The rally at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale was sponsored by gun-control advocacy groups such as Moms Demand Action as well as other organizations including the PTA, the League of Women Voters, Women’s March Florida and the Broward Teachers Union.Delaney Tarr, a classmate of Hogg and Gonzalez, told the rapt audience that the gun laws that allegedly allowed 19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz to buy an AR-15 rifle make no sense.“Because of these gun laws, people I love have died,” Tarr said. “Where’s the common sense in that? People are dying every day.”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.Powered by WPeMatico Relatedlast_img read more

Flying blind: Apps help visually impaired navigate airport

first_imgNavigating airports can be tricky. They’re loud, crowded and not always laid out intuitively. They’re even more challenging for visually impaired people.Chieko Asakawa knows those challenges firsthand, and she has also devised a remedy.Asakawa has been blind since she was 14 and is now an IBM Fellow and a professor in Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. This spring, she and other researchers at Carnegie Mellon launched a navigation app for Pittsburgh International Airport that provides turn-by-turn audio instructions to users on how to get to their destination, be it a departure gate, restaurant or restroom.Pittsburgh is one of a growing number of airports around the globe to provide wayfinding apps. The Pittsburgh app, called NavCog, was first used at the Carnegie Mellon campus and works almost like an indoor GPS.This June 9, 2019 photo shows Chieko Asakawa using the airport wayfinding app that she and her team at Carnegie Mellon University to navigate through Pittsburgh International Airside terminal in Imperial, Pa. before boarding a flight to Japan. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar/File)“Independence is very important,” she said. “Technology has been helping us to be more independent and this is one of the examples. We still have a lot of challenges, but we will keep working to make it easier.”Typically, visually impaired travelers arrive at the Pittsburgh airport and request an escort, Asakawa said, but escorts aren’t available until passengers check in. So they must reach the counter on their own.The escort brings passengers to their gate and leaves, she said. For Asakawa, if she wanted a coffee, or if the flight was delayed, it was very difficult to manage, and very often she’d just be stranded at the gate.With NavCog, she can get up and find the gift shop or coffee shop or even just wander around a bit, she said. The app is up and running and free to download.It works with the help of hundreds of Bluetooth beacons installed inside the airport to wirelessly communicate a user’s location.Users put in where they are going; for example, Gate A3. The app gives users audio instructions like “walk 20 feet and turn left” and gets them to their destination. The app lets users know what stores they might be passing, giving them a better sense of their surroundings, and shopping options.It relies on a map of the terminal that has been annotated with the locations of restrooms, restaurants, gates, entrances and ticketing counters.Ten legally blind people tested the app using an iPhone 8, traversing the terminal’s large open spaces, escalators and moving walkways with few errors. Most users were able to reach the ticketing counter in three minutes, traverse the terminal in about six minutes, go from the gate to a restroom in a minute and go from the gate to a restaurant in about four minutes, the researchers said.Carnegie Mellon and the airport have partnered in developing new systems and technologies for enhancing traveler experiences and airport operations. The technology is tested at the university’s on-site lab at the airport.“Part of our commitment to the public includes making sure our airport works for everyone, particularly as we modernize our facility for the future,” said airport CEO Christina Cassotis.The city is building a new airport terminal, slated to open in 2023, and incorporating the latest technology is a top priority, she said.Dozens of airports, including Philadelphia International, offer free use of a service called Aira, where users connect with an “agent” either by using glasses equipped with a camera or through a smartphone app that accesses the user’s camera.Agents look at the footage and help relay what they see to the user, getting them where they need to go. The service is typically subscription-based and can be used at home or at work, but participating airports pay the fees for users on site.Louisville International in Kentucky installed an app similar to NavCog in 2017, created by the American Printing House for the Blind, a company that develops products for the visually impaired.Brian Charlson, with the American Council of the Blind, has been involved in wayfinding for over 30 years and has seen a number of airports and train stations try different technological approaches to make their spaces easier to navigate for the visually impaired. The NavCog app, he said, is a useful mashup of systems he’s seen over the years.He cautions, though, that the blind population is older and has a high unemployment rate, so many don’t have access to smartphones, meaning such apps might be inaccessible.Having options is always beneficial for the visually impaired, said John McInerney, interim CEO of the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind.“The apps can be very helpful,” McInerney said. “The whole idea is that you would not have to depend on a person to help you. But even today, that’s still a pretty good option.”last_img read more