RUSSIA: Russian Railways, engineering organisations and Voronezh State University of Architecture & Civil Engineering are developing plans for a new 140 km double-track electrified line which would avoid the need for trains on the main line to Rostov-na-Donu, Krasnodar and Sochi to pass through a short section of Ukrainian territory. According to RZD Vice-President Oleg Toni, the new line connecting Zhuravka in Voronezh oblast with Millerovo in Rostov oblast could form the first stage of a national programme for the development of fast and high speed lines, as it ‘will meet all the latest standards’. It would therefore be able to serve as a testing ground for raising the speed of passenger trains.Last year RZD allocated US$1·5m for planning the Zhuravka – Millerovo line and selecting sites for construction bases. The 2015 federal budget has allocated a further $104m for planning and the start of construction works, with a view to opening by 2018.Construction will be supervised by RZD’s Headquarters for the Creation of Critical Public Facilities, and Toni said meeting deadlines and not going over budget ‘are mandatory for everyone who takes part’ in the project.The dissolution of the USSR left a number of railway lines passing through the territory of neighbouring states but isolated from their own networks, requiring intergovernmental negotiations to agree terms for their operation.
LOS ANGELES, (Reuters) – The Los Angeles Lakers will pay tribute to Kobe Bryant today when the team plays its first game since the NBA great died, although details of what that will entail remain unclear. Bryant perished along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others when the helicopter they were travelling in crashed in foggy weather on a hillside northwest of Los Angeles on Sunday.“I’m gonna let that play out tomorrow night, let you guys see it,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel told reporters yesterday when asked what tributes fans could expect to see when the team takes on the visiting Portland Trail Blazers.“I’ve been briefed on some of the things that we’re going to see. But I’m going to let that play out tomorrow night.” The Lakers postponed a game scheduled for Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers after news of the accident broke and it is unclear when that game will be made up.Practice on Thursday began with some flag football on an outside field near the team’s practice facility in what Vogel called “therapeutic” Southern California sunshine.“We are striking a balance of trying to make us feel good,” Vogel said. “Laughter is always a good remedy for something like this when it’s appropriate. “We’ve had some of that at today’s workout outside … it’s not the first time we’ve done that but it does feel good to be out there, you know, just a little bit of a change up.“It was really just a warm-up, once we came inside it was business, get back to business and lock into the work.”Vogel said the team is beginning to get back to normal but admitted staying focused on the task at hand on Friday will be challenging amid tributes to Bryant, who played 20 seasons with the Lakers, winning five championships and millions of fans. “I would imagine it probably makes it a little harder than an ordinary game, with all the emotions and that stuff, but we shouldn’t do it any other way,” he said.“It’s the right thing to do, you know it will be an important night for our franchise and for Laker nation.”