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Civil engineering in the news today - Friday 12 December 2008

Germany is seeking to buy Britain's share of Eurostar in a move that would leave the high-speed rail service entirely under foreign control…

...Passengers could benefit from direct services between London and several new continental destinations including Cologne, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. Deutsche Bahn, Germany's state-owned railway, may also use Eurostar trains to operate a rival service through the Channel Tunnel. But the government, which is preparing to sell the third of Eurostar that it controls, would lose the ability to influence the development of the rail link to the continent - The Times

Power blackouts could blight Britain unless the government takes urgent action, the chairman of a House of Commons committee warned yesterday. "The concern that people have about prices will be a picnic compared with significant numbers of power cuts," said Peter Luff, Conservative chairman of the business enterprise committee. "That possibility is real. It can still be avoided but we are losing time" - The Guardian

Thousands of construction workers face the unpalatable choice next year of taking a pay cut or losing their job. Unions representing 25,000 steel workers at Corus have offered, on their behalf, that they all take a 10% pay cut. The move has been proposed as an alternative to the closure of the Llanwern steelworks at Newport. The move follows JCB where in October 4,000 employees voted to work fewer hours resulting in a £50 per week pay cut to save 350 jobs - The Times

More than 2M homes are at risk of flooding, a rise of a fifth in five years, figures showed. In 2001 1.9M properties were at risk of floods, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimates – The Daily Telegraph

Airlines criticised BAA yesterday after Gatwick was forced to close its runway due to icy conditions on Wednesday, causing cancellations or delays to dozens of flights. The runway and taxiway at the West Sussex airport were closed for four hours from 6.50am for de-icing - The Guardian

Cabbies across London are likely to shake their heads in disbelief. Commuters too. In one of the bolder claims about the 2012 Olympic games in London, the government yesterady unveiled plans for a designated road network to ensure that the 55,000 athletes, officials, media personnel and sponsors are able to move around the city freely - The Guardian

California treasurer Bill Lockyer has cautioned that $5bn of public works, including road and school construction, will have to be cancelled because the state's lenders are worried about an impending Iceland-style bankruptcy. California - which has $1.7 trillion - already has the worst credit rating of any of America's 50 states - and faces running out of money by February - The Times

Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe declared his country's cholera outbreak over yesterday - as the death toll climbed to 783 and another 16,000 people remained infected with the disease. His claim flew in the face of information released by health authorities this week and it came just hours after South African officials declared the border with Zimbabwe a disaster control area - Metro

Many Chinese cities have raced to the top, vying with each other to build the tallest and shiniest skyscrapers. Hangzhou is going in a radically different dierction - down. It plans to lop floors off exclusive hotels, a television tower and other lakeside buildings in an attempt to win coveted Unesco world heritage status - The Guardian

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