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In brief

Austrian tunnelling specialist Geoconsult has submitted its application for leave to appeal against its conviction and £500,000 fine for its part in the Heathrow Express collapse.

Construction minister Nick Raynsford has backed Thames Water's £10M plan to counter London's rising groundwater (NCE 28 January). Water will be drawn from boreholes for industrial or drinking use. Details of the strategy will be revealed on 17 March.

Transport minister John Reid confirmed local authority owned airports at Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, Bradford and Norwich will be exempt from public borrowing control. They will be free to raise private cash to fund expansion plans.

Alfred McAlpine and Adtranz Signal have formed a joint venture to enter the rail infrastructure maintenance market. Adtranz Alfred McAlpine Rail Engineering will focus on winning Railtrack's IMC2 contracts, the second tranche of which are to be bid this spring.

The Construction Industry Board has asked companies organising events for National Construction week to register on the event's website. It claims up to 500 events will take place during the week from 19 April. So far only 50 have registered.

Visit www.ncw.org.uk

The number of public transport journeys made in Britain rose by 1.5% in 1997-98, according to the latest Government figures. Rail journeys increased by 6%, light rail by 7% and trips on the London Tube rose by 8%. Focus on Public Transport Great Britain.

Tel: (0171) 890 3000.

Eurotunnel has opened an £800,000 simulator to teach 1,000 staff evacuation procedures during an accident. The facility features a mock section of the rail tunnel, a double-deck passenger shuttle carriage and freight shuttle club car.

A survey by the Refined Bitumen Association has revealed a £1.5bn shortfall in this year's local authority road maintenance budget. This is 25% up on 1997/98 and means local roads can only be resurfaced on average every 106 years.

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