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News stand: What the papers say

THE TIMES

The rail regulator is to be replaced by a board of part time government-appointed amateurs, outgoing regulator Tom Winsor said this week. A board will be less single minded than an individual and therefore easier to influence, Winsor said.

MPs from the south of England this week tabled a motion demanding the Strategic Rail Authority retain operation of the South Eastern franchise.

The SRA took control of the franchise from operator Connex last month following financial mismanagement allegations. MPs fear the franchise will be reprivatised next year.

Ministers are close to choosing Stansted as the site of the south east's next airport runway, an industry insider claimed last week.

Transport secretary Alistair Darling is also expected to give Heathrow the go-ahead for a third runway once emissions problems have been overcome but Gatwick must wait until a local planning agreement expires in 2016.

THE GUARDIAN

A Japanese magnetic levitation train this week broke its own speed record by reaching 558km per hour, 100km west of Tokyo.

Hundreds of Scottish Highlanders are to receive anti-radiation pills in case of a nuclear accident at emergency submarine berths near Skye. This follows a recent risk assessment by the Ministry of Defence.

Trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt this week told business leaders that she would ignore union demands to sanction firms that outsource skills overseas.

Fibre-optic cables are to be laid along the bottom of Venice's canals to satisfy demand for broadband internet connections in a £42M scheme.

Leading British universities are discussing the development of their own entrance tests. They say that A levels have become too easy and make it impossible to identify the best candidates. It is feared the move would lead to a US-style two-tier 'Ivy League' system.

FINANCIAL TIMES

Private firms must meet the same strict rules on promoting equal opportunities as public sector bodies if they are to win government funded contracts, the Commission for Racial Equality said this week.

British firms bidding for reconstruction work in Iraq could have to include security plans in their proposals for upcoming contracts. US government procurement officials are expected to promote the move in a London conference this week.

Industry was last week rebuked for failing to invest in university research in a governmentsponsored review into business links with higher education.

THE INDEPENDENT

Tory candidate for London mayor Steve Norris has been asked to replace Paris Moayedi as chairman of contractor Jarvis on a short term basis.

Norris is a senior independent director with the firm.

The world heritage site at Ironbridge needs an emergency £1.2M investment to prevent land slippage. Industrial remnants are thought to be at threat though the Iron Bridge itself is not thought to be at risk.

Wind farms have been named as the worst architecture in Britain by Country Life magazine.

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