Friday, August 16, 2013

Gib; High speed trains; Cyclists; Mashad mosque; And Spanish bureaucracy.

Nothing much to say on Gibraltar, thank God. Other than:-
1. It seems odd for the Spanish government to claim it's concerned about smuggling from Gibraltar when the police only stopping and searching cars going into the place. And
2. The Spanish government objects to bunkering (re-fuelling) in Gibraltar Bay but allows this in Ferrol waters. Maybe Ferrolano can tell us whether it's right to claim the Ferrol bunkering is 'different'.

The Spanish consortium bidding for the €13bn contract to install Brazil's high-speed train has welcomed the news that the tender process has been put back for a year, giving them more opportunity to distance themselves from the difficult questions arising from the recent Santiago rail crash. My cynical friend sees this as more evidence of higher commissions being demanded of the Spanish companies.

Walking through town yesterday, I pointed out to my elder daughter a new 'dual-language' school about to open in September. She laughed at the notion, saying that even in Madrid the teachers who are supposed to give lessons in English can hardly speak it. So, in effect, it's a scam, aimed at worried middle class parents who don't realise their kids will emerge with a sound understanding of English grammar - spelling even - but with no ability to speak it.

I'm beginning to hate cyclists. Not all of them, of course. Not even all of those who ride on the pavement(sidewalk). What I'm talking about is a sub-set who ride at a speed which would be considered reckless in many (most?/all?) other countries. This excludes the young kids who weave in and out of the pedestrians on tricycles as these don't really count as much of a threat. But it does include those ordinary cyclists - male and female - who weave through the pedestrian traffic without any regard for the possibility that someone might turn to the right or left at some point. I'm guessing they have an over-inflated view of their ability to brake and swerve at the last moment. As do the worst cyclists of all - the kitted-up men who are doing the camino to Santiago and make no concessions at all to the human traffic in the streets through which the camino passes. Just as they do out in the country, these bastards think it sufficient to ride at speed and then bawl at you to get out of the way when 3 metres (at most) behind you. They seem unaware that a rod through the spokes of their front wheel can do a great deal of damage. One day!

Well, the mosque whose foto I posted yesterday certainly wasn't the shrine of Imam Reza which I recall visiting in Mashad. Indeed, I remember being able to approach, and even touch, the shrine itself - something which is clearly impossible now. As The Lonely Planet puts it:- Non-Muslims are allowed in most of the Haram's outer courtyards. They are NOT allowed inside the complex's two holiest buildings, the Holy Shrine and the Gohar Shad Mosque.

Talking of religion . . . Here's the page of an organisation set up by a couple of atheists to provide the 'congregational' element of a Sunday service but without the religious aspect. Sounds like fun.

Finally . . . Here's an intro into Spanish bureaucracy that newcomers might find useful. Of course, only years of experience will get you used to it. If ever.


J. A. Roberts said...

It's not just Ferrol. Bunkering happens on the Spanish side of the Bay of Gibraltar, out of Algeciras, including ship-to-ship bunkering and when you include Ceuta, between the two of them they bunker more oil than Gibraltar. But then I guess the bunkering on the Spanish side of the bay is "different"...

Perry said...


Here is a link about the Brazilian High Speed proposal.

Where do they get their money? It would seem your friend is correct.

"Corruption costs Brazil almost $41 billion a year alone, with 69.9% of the country's firms identifying the issue as a major constraint in successfully penetrating the global market."

Bear in mind that on 23rd Oct 2011, the tendering process for the HSL was cancelled, because there were no bids to build & operate the line.

It was not until President Dilma Rousseff announced in her address to the 81st General Assembly of the UIC in Paris on 12th December 2012, that fresh tenders for the R$33.1 billion HSL would be complete by 13th August 2013. She also mentioned that other tenders would be sought for an additional 10 000 km of new (conventional?) railways over the next 30 years at a cost of R$91 billion.

On 12th August 2013, Transport Minister César Borges emphasised that the project was not being cancelled, and tendering for the civil works element is still planned for 2015 with the aim of opening the route in 2020.

Oh dear! A self fulfilling prophecy.



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