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Railway Service in Europe Seriously Disrupted by Floods

July 22, 2021 (EIRNS)–The Trains.com website comments that portions of the rail network in Western Europe could be out of service for months or years in the wake of flooding that has left hundreds dead across a swath of western Germany and Belgium. Rail service has been suspended after the floods, which saw rivers running three yards higher than previous records in some cases and destroyed homes and businesses. See report here.

In Belgium, most rail lines south of Brussels saw disruption, with many in the hilly Ardennes region seriously damaged. The high-speed rail line connecting Brussels with Cologne in Germany was briefly closed, but as this goes through hills and over valleys, it was not seriously damaged. Services restarted over the weekend. The older rail lines that follow river valleys, often no more than a few yards above the river, fared much less well. Several routes are so badly damaged that reconstruction is expected to take until late August; less damaged routes reopened July 19.

In neighboring Germany, where the scale of destruction and loss of life has been greater, some rail lines, again built following river valleys, have been completely washed out. In total, German national railroad Deutsche Bahn has reported that 600 kilometers (more than 370 miles) of tracks and 80 stations are impassable.

The worst affected route along the valley of the Ahr River from Remagen to Ahrbrück has seen around 12.5 miles of its 18-mile length destroyed by flood water, with all seven bridges destroyed where the line crossed from one side of the river to the other.

In the Ruhr region, the main station in the city of Hagen was flooded and closed, along with rail lines through the city, as were those in the nearby city of Wuppertal. The flood waters knocked out power and telecom services in many areas. In the city of Bonn, the electronic signalling center controlling the main rail lines along the Rhine valley was unable to function, due to flood damage. Countries neighboring Germany have also seen flooding, with the south of the Netherlands hit with large-scale disruption to rail and road travel. As the weather system moved on, flood waters have affected Switzerland and by last weekend the rain had moved east to Bavaria in Germany and the neighboring Czech Republic, with the rail line between Dresden and Prague shut down July 18 as the Elbe River burst its banks. The Elbe alley was the scene of massive flooding in August 2002, which closed the rail line for three months.


State Department Admits Sanctions Would Not Prevent Nord Stream 2

State Department Admits Sanctions Would Not Prevent Nord Stream 2

July 21 (EIRNS) –In comments to the press yesterday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price reiterated President Joe Biden’s recent statement that the United States suspended its sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline project because they could hardly prevent the project’s completion. He explained that President Biden couldn’t have been any clearer when he met with Chancellor Merkel last week: “We continue to oppose Nord Stream 2. … We continue to believe it’s a bad deal for Germany, it’s a bad deal for Ukraine, it’s a bad deal for Europe and Europe’s broader energy security goals.” And, “of course in May we imposed sanctions on 19 entities and vessels, and at the same time … we have come to the conclusion … that it was not in our interest to significantly undermine … the relationship we have with our ally, Germany for a pipeline whose construction would continue, nonetheless.”

Price commented on reports by Bloomberg News that the U.S. and Germany were close to reaching an agreement on Nord Stream 2 that will reportedly include a provision that Germany will impose sanctions on Russia should Moscow use the pipeline to pressure Ukraine or engage in other “aggressive” behavior. “The Germans have put forward useful proposals…. That shared goal is ensuring that this pipeline cannot be weaponized against Ukraine, against any other European partner. That is our goal in doing so. I do expect we’ll be able to share more details on this today.”

State Department Counselor Derek Chollet arrived in Ukraine for discussions yesterday, and then headed for Poland which also opposes Nord Stream 2. According to Bloomberg, the draft agreement with Germany would seek to promote investments of as much as $1 billion in a so-called Green Fund to help Ukraine’s transition to cleaner sources of energy. Germany reportedly would commit to an initial $175 million investment in the fund, and would also appoint a special envoy—with $70 million of funding—to support bilateral energy projects with Ukraine.

Meanwhile, in a posting to his website, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) denounced the reports of an administration agreement, growling that, “If the reports and details of a deal are accurate, this will be a generational geopolitical win for Putin and a catastrophe for the United States and our allies. President Biden is defying U.S. law and has utterly surrendered to Putin.”