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Today β€” 31 January 2023Main stream

TNSR is Hiring an Executive Editor

31 January 2023 at 08:46

The Texas National Security Review (TNSR, https://tnsr.org) is seeking a motivated, innovative, detail-oriented, and energetic executive editor to take the reins after the successful inaugural tenure of Dr. Doyle Hodges. We are looking for candidates eager to help lead what has become one of the world’s premier journals on international security.  About the Journal The Texas National Security […]

The post TNSR is Hiring an Executive Editor appeared first on War on the Rocks.

Yesterday β€” 30 January 2023Main stream

Eurasia Rail and the railway sector to meet in Istanbul

30 January 2023 at 18:08
Exhibition hall

Having hosted 156 participants from 16 countries and around 8,000 visitors from 45 countries in an area of 7.000m2 in 2021, Eurasia Rail is now counting down to beat its number of visitors.

Eurasia Rail is to celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2023, and it still is the most important platform that brings together the sector giants and professional visitors under one roof. The exhibition has not only taken the pulse of the sector in Eurasia since 2011 but also brought together the world’s leading railway authorities, improving existing relations and paving the way for new cooperations.

Both participants and visitors will be able to access detailed information and experts’ opinions about latest developments in the rail transport, challenges that come along with innovations and new technologies as well as possible solutions through the conferences and seminars held during the exhibition.

The present and future status of the railway sector to be discussed at Eurasia Rail

This year, Eurasia Rail is offering an activity programme that will be carried out for three days during the exhibition. Accordingly, there will be sessions focusing on the cooperations in the sector, international agreements, new generation systems and technologies in means of transport, success stories and marketing strategies.

The start-ups that have marked the sector with augmented reality, autonomous robots, cyber-security, 3B print, simulation technologies, BIM and energy efficiency solutions will come together with the sector in the “Techno Entrepreneurs’ Meeting”. The leading actors of the sector, who have field experience, will be making “Innovation Presentations” with a focus on the subjects that are important to sector such as innovation in transport systems, innovative technologies in R&D investments, new generation vehicles, cyber-security, signalisation, risk and data analyses, data management, and passenger experience. “Innovation Presentations” will help to introduce the latest technologies, meet new customers who seek cooperation and provide producers with an opportunity to increase their brand recognition. They will also raise investment awareness among the buyers and professionals in the sector, who will be able to learn about success stories in depth throughout the exhibition.

Conference talk

In this year’s exhibition, companies will have the opportunity to increase their business volume. In fact, within the framework of the Hosted Buyer Program, the exhibition will host more than 200 foreigners from important countries such as Azerbaijan, Canada, Czechia, Egypt, India, Iran, Kosovo, Libya and United Arab Emirates. B2B appointment system has been developed to enable participants to network fast and efficiently, connect to the right customers and suppliers and expand their network. This system will help all participants to make appointments with the hosted buyers in advance and then meet them. Last year, over 500 meetings were held between the participants and hosted buyers, and the business volume amounted to 300 million Euros. 

During the fair, the traditional “Rail Master Class Special Exhibition Fair Tour” will be carried out, and the professionals and start-ups of the sector will visit the participants’ stands in the company of technology influencers, following a predetermined thematic framework. They will, thus, have an interactive exhibition experience.

Semi Benbanaste, Eurasia Rail Exhibition Director, underlined that rail systems are becoming more and more important every day, for they are fast, economical, environmentally-friendly, safe and modern. Benbanaste made further statements about this year’s Eurasia Rail. “We are preparing to make a great contribution to the rail sector and our country’s economy through 2023 Eurasia Rail, which will be held on the 100th anniversary of our Republic, or the signal flare of the Century of Türkiye”, said Benbanaste.

Pointing out that Turkey has leaped forward in the high-speed train construction in the last 20 years, Benbanaste informed that the country’s total rail transport network size has jumped to 13,150km. He added, “According to the 2053 Transport and Logistics Master Plan shared by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure in April 2022, our country’s rail network will have reached 28,590km by 2053. Thus, the railways will have more share in Turkey’s passenger transportation and haulage. The aim is to increase the annual passenger traffic, which is 19, 5 million now, by 14 times and reach 270 million. As to the haulage, the aim is to increase it from 55 million tons to 448 million tonnes. At this point, we are proud to be a platform that serves as a meeting point for the actors of the rail sector.”

Northern appoint new Head of Engineering Transformation Delivery

John Khatri - Head of Engineering Transformation Delivery at Northern

John Khatri has been appointed Head of Engineering Transformation Delivery at Northern. The former easyJet executive, who has also held a number of senior roles at TUI Group, will be responsible for driving forward a multi-million pound change programme. That programme will focus on enhancing ways of working and processes, new technologies and improvements to facilities.

“John is a great addition to our engineering team,” Jack Commandeur, Engineering Director at Northern, said. “John’s experience in business change and project management is first rate and I look forward to him bringing his clear passion and enthusiasm for programme delivery to Northern.”

“I’m delighted to have joined Northern at what is a very exciting stage of their transformation journey,” John Khatri, Head of Engineering Transformation Delivery at Northern, said. “Their ambition and commitment to engineering excellence is well known and I look forward to working with colleagues across Northern to improve the service we provide to our customers.”

Northern is the second largest train operator in the UK, with nearly 2,500 services a day to more than 500 stations across the North of England.

ORR calls for implementation of automatic passenger information notifications

Passengers in front of screen.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has called for all train companies to implement a system that automatically notifies passengers who have booked tickets online if their trains are cancelled or changed before travel.

Passengers want to be able to plan their journeys in advance and when they do, to be kept informed of any changes. A timetable comparator system was developed in 2022 through the Smarter Information, Smarter Journeys programme. The system enables notifications to be sent to ticket retailers (whether train companies, independent retailers, or travel management companies) when trains are changed or cancelled. The passenger is then sent an email or text notifying them of any changes up to 48 hours before travel. For shorter notice and emergency changes, ORR has advised train companies to make it simple for passengers to sign up for travel alerts.

Many train companies and ticket retailers are already using the system successfully to inform passengers when their booked journey is affected by cancellations or timetable amendments. It is important that all ticket retailers and train companies that sell tickets in advance are signed up to the system so that as many passengers as possible benefit.

The rail regulator has written to train companies setting the expectation that they should be using this system by the end of March 2023. ORR also expects that providing such notifications will become a Customer Information Pledge between operators and their customers.

“Letting people know of a change to their travel booking well in advance is an important first step in improving passenger information and it is disappointing that not all passengers are benefitting from a system that has been in place since May 2022,” Stephanie Tobyn, Director of Strategy, Policy and Reform at ORR, said. “Train companies need to remain consistent with the passenger information licence condition which requires passengers to be able to plan their journey with a reasonable degree of assurance. So there should be no further delay in companies putting this system in place now.”

LE TRAIN and Talgo sign agreement to develop a fleet of high-speed trains

LE TRAIN locomotive

LE TRAIN, France’s leading private high-speed train operator, and Talgo, a European designer and manufacturer of railway rolling stock, have signed an agreement in Bordeaux for the future development of a fleet of high-speed trains adapted to the French market and based on the leading high-speed Avril platform.

LE TRAIN obtained its railway company licence on 24 December 2022 and is successfully progressing with all the requirements to start commercial operations. Following the call for tenders issued in early 2022 to major French and European manufacturers and after several months of negotiations, LE TRAIN and Talgo have aligned for the development of a new fleet of very high-speed trains based on the Talgo Avril train platform.

The new agreement

The two companies signed an agreement covering the potential future acquisition of a fleet of up to ten very high-speed trains, including possible extensions and the possibility to maintain the equipment in France, as well as the creation of a joint research and development unit in New Aquitaine to work towards the most efficient and sustainable mobility transport mode of the future: the train.

LE TRAIN passengers will board the AVRIL model, a concentrate of technology and innovation, renowned for its high reliability, the quality of its equipment, its energy efficiency and its modern and refined design. Once the relevant contracts have been signed, construction of the first ten trains will begin in the first half of 2023 at Talgo’s plant in Rivabellosa (Álava). The first trains would leave its workshops in early 2025.

“With this major agreement, we confirm our ambition to offer daily high-speed journeys to the millions of inhabitants of the regions of New Aquitaine, Brittany, Pays de la Loire and Centre-Val-de-Loire,” Alain Getraud, CEO of LE TRAIN, said. “We have chosen Talgo, one of Europe’s leading manufacturers, with cutting-edge industrial technology and the industrial strength to guarantee the excellence of the equipment produced. The tailor-made design proposed by Talgo will enable us to develop a unique passenger experience, particularly for the on-board transport of leisure and sports equipment such as bicycles and surfboards. Finally, our two companies share a common ambition: to work in a sustainable way for low-carbon mobility.”

“This is a great opportunity for our company to deploy its expertise and innovations north of the Pyrenees,” Carlos Palacio Oriol, President of Patentes Talgo, said. “We are honoured that LE TRAIN has entrusted Talgo with the development of its first fleet of new high-speed trains. We are convinced of the relevance of the LE TRAIN model to make rail transport a real lever of ecological transition.”

Korea National Railway to sponsor UIC High-Speed Rail Congress 2023

30 January 2023 at 10:52
Korea high-speed railway

Between 7 and 10 March 2023, the 11th edition of the UIC High-Speed Rail Congress will be held at the Palais des Congrès in Marrakech, Morocco under the auspices of UIC and ONCF and with the patronage of His Majesty King Mohamed VI, bringing together the world’s key players in high-speed rail.

“High-speed rail: the right speed for our planet”

UIC High Speed Congress logo

The congress is recognised as the most important gathering on the topic of high-speed rail. Adopting “High-speed rail: the right speed for our planet” as its slogan, the congress will emphasise rail’s contribution to addressing climate change and its role in territorial development.

The UIC has chosen the Kingdom of Morocco to host this year’s congress, reflecting its position in the high-speed rail domain in Africa and the Middle East.

The congress organisers are delighted to announce that the first platinum sponsor is Korea National Railway (KNR), the state-owned agency responsible for construction and management of national rail infrastructures.

KNR led the transport revolution of Korea with the opening of Gyeongbu high-speed railway in 2004 and has been leading the improvement of transport services and balanced national territorial development by seeing to quality construction and management of national railways through continuous investments in technology and innovation.

Mr Hanyoung Kim, CEO of KNR, celebrated the announcement by saying that “Korea National Railway is pleased to sponsor the UIC High-Speed Rail Congress 2023 and, with thanks to the organisers UIC and ONCF, we extend our best wishes for a very successful 11th Edition of the Congress.”

High-level speakers and representatives

The Congress will also be attended by a number of high-level keynote speakers, representatives and railway CEOs from regions across the world, including: Krzysztof Mamiński (PKP); Mohamed Rabie Khlie (ONCF); Jean-Pierre Farandou (SNCF); María Luisa Domínguez (ADIF); LI Wenxin (CR); Bashar Al Malike (SAR); Luigi Corradi (Trenitalia); Hee-Seung NA (Korail); Isaías Táboas Suárez (RENFE); Hasan Pezük (TCDD); Niko Warbanoff (DB E.C.O. Group); Stephen Gardner (Amtrak, US); Ilya Volkov (ISR); Kamel Al Vazir (Egypt); Barbara Barr (FRA, US); Khalid As Sultan (TSA, Saudi Arabia); Brian Kelly (CHSRA, US); and Joubert Flores (ANP Trilhos, Brazil).

More than 1,500 participants are expected to attend the 11th UIC World Congress on High-Speed Rail in Marrakesh…

ONCF Director General Mohamed Rabie Khlie and UIC Director General François Davenne cordially invite major players in the mobility chain on the five continents to participate in this unique event. “It is an optimal framework in which to maximise the added value of the railways for the community and share the latest technological advances. The potential of high-speed rail solutions adapted to the growth of sustainable mobility on a global scale is far from exhausted,” they said. “Despite the COVID-19 lockdowns having a positive effect on pollution levels, this was shortlived and the fight against climate change, now more than ever, remains a priority. This is why trains, and especially high-speed trains, continue to be an important asset and efficient mode of transport for medium and long-distance travel. Fortunately, the pandemic did not prevent the expansion of high-speed railways with their total length going from 44,000km in 2020 to approximately 59,000km in 2022, an increase of over 1/3. Moreover, the number of countries making use of high-speed railways is only increasing, as additional countries are in the process of developing projects. Therefore, it is clear that speed was and still is the key to passenger rail success. We need to consider the socio-economic benefits to be gained from high-speed railways, and how they may engender a modal shift from roads and air transport to railways. But, at the same time, we need to ensure that a certain synergy remains between these forms of transport, as they each have their own area of importance. It is also time to assess what forms of technological progress are contributing to the climate emergency. Three billion passengers use high-speed trains every year, and this growth is being driven by the continued expansion of the high-speed rail network and associated services.”

Some 59,000km of high-speed lines are currently in operation worldwide, and this figure will double in the next 30 years. Countries that have already embarked on this path are completing their own networks, joined by new countries and states convinced by the benefits of high-speed rail. This poses a number of strategic, industrial, technical and financial challenges which the Congress will address over three days. More than 1,500 participants are expected to attend the 11th UIC World Congress on High-Speed Rail in Marrakesh, incuding political decision-makers, transport authorities, railway companies and key players in intermodality, infrastructure managers, industrialists, financial institutions, customers, study and research institutes, universities, etc., all of whom are invited to take part in the event’s working sessions, trade show and technical visits.

The congress exhibition is open to all actors and partners who are committed to the operations of high-speed rail systems across the world. Covering an area of 1,100m2, the exhibition is an opportunity to meet the key players of the railway world, establish leading partnerships, benefit from rea l opportunities to develop your image, network, and business opportunities.

For more information, please visit the 11th UIC World Congress on High-Speed Rail website.

Why Fighter Jets Are The Next Item On Ukraine's Military Wish-List

30 January 2023 at 20:54
F-16s from the Polish Air Force take part in a NATO exercise in October.F-16s from the Polish Air Force take part in a NATO exercise in October.

Last week, Ukraine got a huge boost from it Western allies – both in terms of the military hardware it had been bequeathed, and how they were willing to break what had previously been taboo.

After weeks of hesitation, Germany said it would provide Ukraine with 14 Leopard 2 tanks and allow other allies willing to follow suit to deliver 88 Leopards to form two tank battalions. The US, in turn, announced it will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy greeted the Western decision as a major breakthrough, and Kyiv almost immediately began lobbying for fighter jets from its allies – not least because its current fleet of warplanes are older than modern Ukraine itself. Specifically, Ukraine is pushing for Western fourth generation fighter jets such as the US F-16.

Why does Ukraine need fighter jets?

Ukraine’s Air Force has a fleet of ageing Soviet-era fighter jets They came off the assembly line before Kyiv even declared independence more than 31 years ago. The warplanes are used for intercept missions and to attack Russian positions.

The push for jets reflects how last week’s decision on tanks was a major turning point in military support for Kyiv, which has evolved during the war. Despite being vigilant of the conflict widening, the West are now providing arms that have a mainly offensive rather than defensive purpose, a seismic shift.

Since the Dutch F-16 announcement has generated more talks on #fighters for #Ukraine; a few thoughts.
1) The Ukrainian Air Force would absolutely benefit greatly from Western fighters in terms of air-to-air and (potentially) air-to-ground lethality. But there are caveats (1/10) pic.twitter.com/a0ARugrpkP

— Justin Bronk (@Justin_Br0nk) January 23, 2023

Justin Bronk, a researcher at the RUSI think tank in London, tweeted that Ukraine would “absolutely benefit” from Western fighter jets “in terms of air-to-air and (potentially) air-to-ground lethality.”

But he said they would still be at high risk from Russian surface to air missiles, forcing them to fly very low near the front line, something that “would dramatically reduce effective missile range and limit strike options”.

Jets coveted by Ukraine include F-16s and F-35s from the US, Eurofighters, Tornados, French Rafales, and Swedish Gripen jets. As the year unfolds, Ukraine could also receive modern aircrafts as Finland, Germany, and the Netherlands upgrade to US F-35 fighters.

Ukraine has said it would take its pilots about half a year to train for combat in Western fighter jets, meaning if a deal could be done it would not be an instant game-changer.  

Is it happening?

There are signs of movement. On Monday, Andriy Yermak, Zelenskyy’s most senior adviser, suggested Poland is willing to supply Ukraine with its F-16 fighters, and follows speculation over a “fighter jet coalition” to match Russia’s supply. 

Yermak said in a Telegram posting Ukraine had received “positive signals” from Warsaw. However, Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, was careful to stress his own country would only act in consultation with Nato allies.

In any case, the issue is in the Biden administration’s in-tray. Deputy White House national security adviser Jon Finer said last week that the US would be discussing the idea of supplying fighter jets “very carefully” with Kyiv and its allies.

Why does Nato matter?

The military alliance called the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation – or Nato – and its 30 member nations are bound by Article 5 of its constitution. They agree to mutual defence – military action – in response to an enemy attack. The principle goes: “An attack against one ally is considered as an attack against all allies.”

Ukraine is not a member of Nato. But if any of the Nato countries became directly involved, it would be interpreted as an act of war by Putin, dragging countries including the US and UK further into the conflict.

Nato is anxious about further escalating tensions between the world’s two biggest nuclear powers – the US and Russia – and edging everyone closer to the “World War III” scenario many fear.

Haven’t we been here before?

Ukraine’s Air Force has yearned for better aircraft throughout the war, but it was the fear of escalation that halted previous efforts to supply Ukraine with jets.

In March, just weeks after the invasion, Poland said it would give all of its MiG-29 fighter jets to the US – a move that potentially allowed the warplanes to be passed along for use by Ukraine’s military. But the US rejected the offer, which would be in exchange for US jets, characterising the plan as “not tenable”.

MIG-29 fighter jets of the Polish Air Force.MIG-29 fighter jets of the Polish Air Force.

Among a series of logistical problems, one question was how to deliver the planes to Ukraine since Poland is a member of Nato, and Nato pilots couldn’t fly the aircraft to Ukraine without risking the alliance’s involvement.

But as shipping tanks to Ukraine demonstrates, and as the war enters its second year, there are fewer fears over the domino effect.

The Kremlin has warned that tank deliveries would be a dangerous escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, and it has strongly denounced the watershed move by Germany and the US to send the heavy weaponry to its foe. But it has also insisted the new armour won’t stop Russia from achieving its goals in Ukraine, and that the Ukrainian armed forces “is clearly exaggerated”.

What are the sticking points?

Echoing its early reluctance to send tanks, Germany has ruled out the idea of sending jets to Ukraine. Berlin’s reticence ultimately stems from a post-Second World War aversion to military aggression.

Speaking in an interview with German newspaper Tagesspiegel published on Sunday, chancellor Olaf Scholz said: “The question of combat aircraft does not arise at all. I can only advise against entering into a constant competition to outbid each other when it comes to weapons systems.”

The caution is despite being the third-largest weapons supplier to Kyiv, and being a member of Nato. As UK defence secretary, Ben Wallace, on Monday noted: “I think what we know about all these demands is that…the initial response is no and it ends up being yes.”

<strong>F-16s from the Polish Air Force take part in a NATO exercise in October.</strong>

<strong>MIG-29 fighter jets of the Polish Air Force.</strong>

Almost All Constituencies Think Brexit Was A Mistake, Poll Shows

30 January 2023 at 18:47
Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks away after driving a Union flag-themed JCB, with the words Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks away after driving a Union flag-themed JCB, with the words "Get Brexit Done" inside the digger bucket, through a fake wall emblazoned with the word "Gridlock", during a visit to JCB cab manufacturing centre in Uttoxeter, while on the General Election campaign trail. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)

A new poll to mark the third anniversary of the UK leaving the EU has suggested most voters think Brexit was a mistake. 

A survey by Unherd and Focaldata asked voters across England, Scotland and Wales whether “Britain was wrong to leave the EU”.

In all but three of 632 constituencies, more people agreed than disagreed. The three constituencies that disagreed are all in Lincolnshire.

Bristol West, Edinburgh South and Streatham were the three most “Bregretful” constituencies. Boston and Skegness, South Holland and the Deepings, and Louth and Horncastle were most in favour of having left.

Overall, 37 per cent of those polled strongly agreed, 17 per cent mildly agreed, 9 per cent mildly disagreed and 19 per cent strongly disagreed. Some 18 per cent said “neither”.

Startling polling from @Unherd, on the eve of the 3rd anniversary of Brexit. In all 650 UK constituencies apart from three (all in Lincolnshire), more people now agree than disagree that Brexit was a mistake. Biggest movement in left leaning areas.https://t.co/tkb239vrTlpic.twitter.com/hZnu3NuAZl

— Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) January 30, 2023

More interestingly, support for Brexit has collapsed most in Labour-leave areas. The constituencies that have lost the *most* support for Brexit since 2016 is a striking list of poorer, diverse, Labour-voting, metropolitan areas: pic.twitter.com/vrAMMuG2Kv

— Freddie Sayers (@freddiesayers) January 30, 2023

Then-prime minister Boris Johnson led the country out of the European Union and into its transition period on January 31, 2020.

In the UK-wide Brexit referendum in 2016, some 52% voted to leave while 48% voted to remain. There was a 72% turnout across the country.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has ruled out on multiple occasions the UK rejoining the EU or re-entering the single market, while also criticising the deal agreed between London and Brussels by Johnson.

The Northern Ireland Protocol, signed off by Johnson as part of his Brexit deal, remains a source of tension between the UK and the EU as the two sides bid to find a solution.

The row over the protocol, which unionists say creates a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, effectively led to the collapse of powersharing in Stormont.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks away after driving a Union flag-themed JCB, with the words "Get Brexit Done" inside the digger bucket, through a fake wall emblazoned with the word "Gridlock", during a visit to JCB cab manufacturing centre in Uttoxeter, while on the General Election campaign trail. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)