French and Riviera News. Thursday July 2nd 2020

New infrastructure- The French government has given the green light for a major upgrade to the rail network in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region.

Described as “the biggest rail project of the 21st century” the upgrades aim to improve links between major towns and the rest of France as well as to enhance connections with neighbouring European countries.

Phases 1 and 2 of the project will see new rail infrastructure for Nice ,Cannes ,Toulon and Marseilles to “de-clutter” existing lines and speed up journey times.

A major part of the upgrades will see a new TGV railway station with 4 platforms constructed at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport which will enable fast links to Spain ,Italy and other parts of France.

The financial details which will run into several billions of euros are yet to be put in place but it’s likely that the government will tender the work out to a major construction company with investment coming from regional and departmental councils.

 

Police swoop-  A squad of crack ‘Raid’ police have swooped to arrest a man near the railway station in Nice.

Reports say that officers used a drone to keep the man under surveillance before moving in to make the arrest on the rue Paganini on Wednesday.

No reason has yet been given for the arrest but ‘Raid’ officers are rarely involved in routine policing operations.

 

Truck jackknife- Emergency services have freed a truck driver after his vehicle jackknifed at the Escota roundabout near the A8 at Puget-sur-Argens on Wednesday.

The accident caused big traffic jams in the area as firefighters worked to free the man from the cab of the  truck.

The incident took several hours to be cleared away as the truck was carrying a load of chemicals which had to be treated with care.The driver wasn’t seriously hurt and is being treated in Frejus hospital.

 

Serious crash-Two people have been injured following a collision between a light truck and a heavy goods vehicle on the RD 43 at Rocbaron between Brignoles and Toulon in the Var.

Several fire trucks and a rescue helicopter attended the incident which resulted in big traffic jams in both directions before a diversion was set up.

The cause of the crash is not yet clear.

 

Extended custody - A couple who are alleged to have attacked municipal police officers while being arrested in Nice on Tuesday have been remanded in custody.

A woman officer suffered head injuries during the incident after being pushed to the floor.She was also bitten and had her hair pulled violently.

Reports say that the couple who were arrested after the car they were in hit several vehicles on the avenue de la Californie ,were drunk at the time of their arrest.

The Nice State Prosecutor has decided to extend the custody period for further questioning and Nice City Hall which employs the municipal police says that it will press charges.

 

Swanning around - A pair of swans have been showing off three new arrivals on the River Brague near Antibes.

It had been noted that the Pen (or Mrs Swan if you prefer) was expecting in the autumn of last year but regular walkers in the area noticed the three cygnets swimming behind mum and dad for the first time on Wednesday.

The Cob(Mr Swan to you) appears to be playing a full role in parenting which is just as well as Cygnets hang around with the adults for around a year before starting an independent life.

 

In National News.

 

No second wave - The French public health body SPF says that it’s not envisaging a second wave of coronavirus to hit the country but warns that the virus is still circulating.

Sante Publique France says that transmission of the virus continues to go down and is currently at “very low levels”.

However ,SPF warned against complacency and urged the public to continue with good hygiene practices and the wearing of face masks where obligatory or appropriate.

France reported 18 new Covid-19 deaths on Wednesday ,bringing the total number of deaths from the virus since the start of the pandemic to 29,861.

582 people are still in intensive care and 8,336 patients are receiving hospital treatment.

 

Covid-19 cluster-A meat processing plant in the Mayenne department has been shut following a series of positive coronavirus tests.

28 staff at the Holvia Porc abbatoir have tested positive for coronavirus.

The plant is  being deep cleaned and will remain shut for the foreseeable future.

 

Zut Alors ! A survey of European motorists suggests that most drivers have become safer and more courteous behind the wheel ,with the notable exceptions of France and Greece.

The poll ,carried out by IPSOS for Vinci Autoroutes questioned motorists from 11 European  nations to find out if they’d changed their driving habits over the past year.

The findings showed that 70 percent of French motorists insult other drivers when behind the wheel while 47 percent  of Greek drivers admitted to tailgating.

One in five French drivers said that their character “changed for the worst” when they took to the road while 66 percent of Spanish motorists confessed to “excessive use of the horn”.

88 percent of motorists in the 11 nations surveyed admitted to breaking the speed limit “on occasion” while Swedes were the most likely to drive too fast.

The Greeks took the dubious prize for being Europe’s “most dangerous” drivers while British motorists came out as the safest.

Worryingly ,a fifth of drivers said that they had got out of their car to “settle a dispute” with another motorist with the Poles being the worst offenders at 37 percent.

There were some 22,800 fatal road traffic accidents within the 27 EU nation bloc last year ,a decrease of 2 percent from 2018 Fatal accidents have fallen by 23 percent since 2010.

 

Business.

 

US private payrolls increased at a slower rate than expected in June as employers announced an extra 170,000 layoffs ,raising concerns that the road to economic recovery will be slow and painful.

The recovery is also under threat from rising coronavirus cases in several US states including the densely populated areas of California ,Florida and Texas.

Authorities in states most badly affected by a surge in virus cases are pausing the reopening of businesses ,adding to concerns that layoffs will increase over the coming weeks.

Job growth has accelerated at firms who rehired workers following initial layoffs at the start of the health crisis but many companies are struggling with weak demand forcing them to pause or even reverse hiring plans.

A more comprehensive snapshot of US employment will be published by the government later today.Market reaction to the figures will be delayed with Wall Street closed on Friday ahead of Saturday’s Independence Day holiday.

 

At least 12,000 workers in the UK have lost their jobs in the past 48 hours after a number of firms announced layoffs.

Cuts have come across a range of sectors from high street retailers to aviation as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic become more acute.

Retailer John Lewis has confirmed a number of store closures but hasn’t said how many jobs would go while the owner of Topshop-Arcadia and Harrods said that they planned a total of 1,180 job cuts.

Job cuts are also being made at the sandwich and snack outlet Upper Crust which has been suffering from a huge fall in demand at its airport  and rail operations while cuts are also being made at Virgin Money and Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank.

 

And -Tesla has become the world’s most valuable vehicle maker after its shares surged to new record highs on Wall Street.

Tesla overtook Toyota as its shares hit 1,133 dollars 95 in early Wednesday trade.

The firm’s shares have risen by 159 percent so far this year as it ramps up production of its Model 3 and continues to expand plants.

Tesla will report second quarter earnings in the coming days with expectations of 72,000 vehicle sales ,61,000 of which are expected to be Model 3’s.

The firm has already reported three consecutive quarters of profitability.A fourth would put it in a prime position for inclusion in the S&P 500.

 

Sport.

 

Football-There were 4 games in the English Premier League last night with West Ham getting a vital three points in their battle against relegation as they beat Chelsea 3-2 at the London Stadium.

In the other results Bournemouth are in deep trouble after losing 4-1 at home to Newcastle.Arsenal beat rock bottom Norwich 4-0 and Everton beat Leicester 2-1.

 

There are two games tonight.Sheffield United play Spurs and Manchester City host the champions Liverpool.

 

In the English Championship last night West Brom closed the gap on the leaders Leeds to just a point following a 3-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday.Derby were 1-0 winners at Preston.Birmingham lost 3-0 at home to Huddersfield and Nottingham Forest beat Bristol City 1-0.

 

Brenford ,Nottingham Forest ,Fulham and Cardiff are in the playoff positions with Derby just a point behind in 7th.

 

Motorsport-The former Formula 1 driver Alex Zanardi is in a serious but stable condition following a second operation on head injuries that he sustained in a hand bike accident two weeks ago.

The 53 year old remains sedated and intubated at a hospital in Siena.

Zanardi has become a global sporting icon after losing both his legs in a racing accident in Germany in 2001 but then recovering to become a 4 time Paralympic gold medalist.

 

Cricket-The legendary West Indies batsman Sir Everton Weekes has died at the age of 95.

Weekes scored 4,445 Test match runs in 48 games with an average of 58.61.

He’s the only player to ever make 5 centuries in consecutive Tests  and was known as one of the “three W’s “ along with Sir Clyde Walcott and Sir Frank Worrell.

 

Rugby Union-Leicester Tigers have confirmed that the England centre Manu Tuilagi is one of five players to have left the club.

Several players including Tuilagi have been locked in contract disputes with the club after being offered alternative deals because of the coronavirus crisis.

Tuilagi has been with Leicester since 2009.He’s won  43 England caps since then and represented the Lions on their 2013 tour of Australia.

 

Weather.

 

Predominantly cloudy with some bright spells at times and light to moderate south westerly winds.

Top temperatures 25-27 degrees.

Overnight lows of 23 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend-Partially cloudy tomorrow with the chance of some afternoon thunderstorms. Fine on Saturday.Highs of 26-30 degrees.

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