Evening Update Monday 15 January 2024

Traffic has been disrupted on parts of the A8 motorway for much of the day today because of VCT hire drivers staging an "operation escargot" or go-slow. Traffic was disrupted between Cannes and Monaco from about 9am this morning. According to motorway operator VINCI Autoroutes, the protest finished at about 5.20 this evening. They are protesting at the number of VCT vehicles on the road, leading to a reduction in the prices each driver can charge. Drivers on the Cote d'Azur are expecting this summer to be particularly difficult because of an expected influx of VCT vehicles from Paris who will be prohibited from plying their trade in Paris because of the Olympics. A union representing the drivers is also threatening disruption during the Monte-Carlo Rally later this month.

Train services between Nice and Marseille were disrupted this morning because of vandalism. The SNCF said that cables had been deliberately burned last night, affecting signalling equipment. Services briefly resumed just before midday but early this afternoon the SNCF said that a train had broken down near La Pomme station. Traffic is currently once again severely disrupted on the line between Marseille St-Charles, Aubagne, Toulon and Nice in both directions and the SNCF said this was likely to last until the end of this evening.

A tsunami security exercise is taking place in our region this coming Friday, 19 January. It will concern the 9 departments bordering the Mediterranean, including the Var and the Alpes-Maritimes. No action is required. On Friday morning people on the coast of the nine departments will receive a FR-Alert system notification on their mobile phone accompanied by a specific sound signal, even if the phone is in silent mode. No emergency service resources will be deployed on the ground and the sirens of the population alert and information system will not be triggered as they would be in the event of a genuine tsunami alert.

The Monaco government has announced the introduction of a dedicated telephone number to fight against harassment in schools. The number is aimed at everyone including children and adolescents who are victims of harassment and all forms of violence in schools including cyber-harassment, witnesses to such situations, as well as parents and school staff. The number is Monaco 98 98 96 96. It is accessible 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has said that reinforcements will be sent shortly to the overseas department of Reunion in the Indian Ocean because of disruption caused by Cyclone Belal. Nearly 150 civil security personnel, gendarmes as well as employees of electricity company Enedis will arrive on site as soon as the airport reopens. Enedis said a few hours ago that about 100,000 customers on the island were without electricity.

Gerald Darmanin visited the construction site of the Olympic village in Paris this morning. He said that 150,000 spectators are expected each day in the suburb of Saint Denis in the northern part of the capital. He added that the government is deploying exceptional security resources there, with additional reinforcements from the end of February.



Train drivers in England are planning several days of strikes. The Aslef union said that drivers will strike for 24 hours on different days at each of the train operating companies between 30 January and 5 February. They will also refuse to work overtime between those dates. The action is part of a long running dispute.

The German economy contracted by 0.3% last year according to federal statistics office Destatis. In preliminary data it said that adjusted for calendar purposes, the decline in economic output was 0.1%. The organization said that “overall economic development in Germany stalled in 2023 in the still crisis-ridden environment”.



Motorsports... Toto Wolff has said that he has signed a three-year deal to continue as team principal and chief executive at Mercedes F1. The team finished second in the constructor's title last season and took first place in eight seasons between 2014 and 2021.

Tennis... Naomi Osaka is out of the Australian Open after being defeated in the first round by French player Caroline Garcia. It was her first major tournament since the US Open in September 2022 after giving birth last year.

Meanwhile, Andy Murray has said that there is a "definite possibility" he has played his final Australian Open. He exited the tournament in the first round, being defeated 6-4 6-2 6-2 by Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

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