Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc (GMCR) (NASDAQ: GMCR), a leader in specialty coffee and single serve brewing systems, and Eight Oâ Clock Coffee Company (a member of the Tata Global Beverages family of brands), Americaâ s #1 Whole Bean Coffee brand in grocery (Nielsen, 52 Wks Ended March 31, 2012), announce the companies have reached a multiyear agreement to make Eight Oâ Clock® coffee, Tetley® tea, and Good Earth® tea available in K-Cup® and Vueâ ¢ packs for Keurig® Single Cup Brewing systems. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.”For generations, millions of coffee lovers have enjoyed brewing the fresh taste of high-quality Eight O’Clock® coffee. Now they will have a whole new, convenient way to make America’s original gourmet coffee with Keurig®, America’s favorite single cup brewing system,” says David Allen, Sr. VP, Sales & Marketing at Tata Beverage Groupâ s US Region. “We look forward to working with GMCR to make the top-selling whole bean coffee brand into a successful single cup coffee.”Eight Oâ Clock Coffee Company and GMCR plan to make a select offering of Eight Oâ Clock® coffee K-Cup® packs available through in-home and away-from-home channels, as well as on GMCRâ s consumer direct websites, www.Keurig.com(link is external) andwww.GreenMountainCoffee.com(link is external), throughout the U.S. and Canada beginning in fall 2012. In the U.S, Tetley® teas, and in the U.S. and Canada, Good Earth® teas intend to join the K-Cup® pack collection in 2013.The choice of coffee-loving Americans since 1859, Eight Oâ Clock® coffee is best known for its #1-selling whole bean coffees in grocery (Nielsen, 52 Wks Ended March 31, 2012), offering a full line of gourmet coffee varieties in retailers throughout the country. Over 150 years later, Eight Oâ Clock® is as fresh as ever, entering the fast-growing, high-quality, and ultra-convenient world of single serve coffee with Eight Oâ Clock® coffee K-Cup® packs.â This new relationship will provide Keurig® brewer owners with additional choice by having Eight Oâ Clock® coffee, Tetley® tea, and Good Earth® tea readily available for their brewers,’says Lawrence J. Blanford, GMCR President and CEO. â With this agreement, we are excited to once again deliver upon our promise of supplying unsurpassed quality, variety, and convenience in the Keurig® system.âGMCRâ s Keurig® Single Cup Brewers for in-home and office use utilize patented, innovative brewing and single-cup technology to deliver a fresh-brewed, perfect cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa every time at just the touch of a button. According to the NPD Group®, Keurig® Single Cup Brewers were the top four bestselling coffee makers during GMCRâ s fiscal second quarter 2012 by dollar sales.About Eight Oâ Clock CoffeeEight Oâ Clock Coffee has been delighting coffee lovers for over 150 years and was named one of â Americaâ s Greatest Brands’in 2010. Best known for their #1-selling whole bean coffee in grocery and top-rated 100% Colombian coffee, Eight Oâ Clock offers a full line of gourmet coffee varieties in ground and whole bean forms. Eight Oâ Clock Coffee is headquartered in Montvale, NJ,is roasted and packaged in Landover, Maryland and available at most U.S. retailers where groceries are sold. Eight Oâ Clock is part of the Tata Global Beverages family of brands. For more information about Eight Oâ Clock Coffee, visit www.EightOClock.com(link is external).About Tetley TeaTetley has been known as an industry leader in creating a variety of delicious teas since it began producing tea over 170 years ago. Tetley is part of the Tata Global Beverages family of brands and has a long-standing relationship with the Ethical Tea Partnership, an organization that monitors living and working conditions on tea estates. All Tetley branded tea, including flavored and decaffeinated varieties, will also be part of the Rainforest Alliance certification program, which is scheduled for completion by 2016. To learn more about Tetley Tea, visitwww.TetleyUSA.com(link is external).About Good Earth TeaOne of the first American herbal companies and a leader in specialty tea, Good Earth Tea brings authentic, full flavored teas from around the world to the U.S. via a wide variety of unique blends. Good Earth Tea offers a tea adventure like no other, combining rich flavors from around the world into aromatic blends such as Sweet & Spicy, Green Tea Lemongrass, and Superfruit White Tea with Mangosteen and Mango. Good Earth Tea is part of the Tata Global Beverages family of brands. For more information, visit www.GoodEarthTea.com(link is external).About Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.As a leader in specialty coffee and coffee makers, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR) (NASDAQ: GMCR), is recognized for its award-winning coffees, innovative Keurig®Single Cup brewing technology, and socially responsible business practices. GMCR supports local and global communities by offsetting 100% of its direct greenhouse gas emissions, investing in sustainably-grown coffee, and donating at least five percent of its pre-tax profits to social and environmental projects.GMCR routinely posts information that may be of importance to investors in the Investor Relations section of its website, including news releases and its complete financial statements, as filed with the SEC. The Company encourages investors to consult this section of its website regularly for important information and news. Additionally, by subscribing to the Companyâ s automatic email news release delivery, individuals can receive news directly from GMCR as it is released.GMCR Forward-Looking StatementsCertain statements contained herein are not based on historical fact and are â forward-looking statements’within the meaning of the applicable securities laws and regulations. Generally, these statements can be identified by the use of words such as â anticipate,’â believe,’â could,’â estimate,’â expect,’â feel,’â forecast,’â intend,’â may,’â plan,’â potential,’â project,’â should,’â would,’and similar expressions intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. Owing to the uncertainties inherent in forward-looking statements, actual results could differ materially from those stated here. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, the impact on sales and profitability of consumer sentiment in this difficult economic environment, the Companyâ s success in efficiently expanding operations and capacity to meet growth, the Companyâ s success in efficiently and effectively integrating the Companyâ s acquisitions, the Companyâ s success in introducing and producing new product offerings, the ability of lenders to honor their commitments under the Companyâ s credit facility, competition and other business conditions in the coffee industry and food industry in general, fluctuations in availability and cost of high-quality green coffee, any other increases in costs including fuel, Keurigâ s ability to continue to grow and build profits with its roaster partners in the At Home and Away from Home businesses, the Company experiencing product liability, product recall and higher than anticipated rates of warranty expense or sales returns associated with a product quality or safety issue, the impact of the loss of major customers for the Company or reduction in the volume of purchases by major customers, delays in the timing of adding new locations with existing customers, the Companyâ s level of success in continuing to attract new customers, sales mix variances, weather and special or unusual events, the impact of the inquiry initiated by the SEC and any related litigation or additional governmental investigative or enforcement proceedings, as well as other risks described more fully in the Companyâ s filings with the SEC. Forward-looking statements reflect managementâ s analysis as of the date of this release. The Company does not undertake to revise these statements to reflect subsequent developments, other than in its regular, quarterly earnings releases.GMCR-C WATERBURY, Vt. & MONTVALE, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)
The Gold Coast event is the culmination of a four year strategy between Tourism Events Queensland (TEQ), the City of Gold Coast and IRONMAN Oceania to bring the world’s best triathletes to the Gold Coast.IRONMAN Oceania, Managing Director Dave Beeche said the ITU World Grand Final is expected to attract more than 17,000 visitors, giving Queensland significant global exposure and providing a major boost for the profile triathlon in Australia. “The ITU World Triathlon Grand Final is the most prestigious event on the World Triathlon Series calendar, so we are very excited to welcome this event, the athletes, their families and friends to Queensland,” he said.Beeche continued, “Australia, and especially Queensland has a strong tradition in the sport of triathlon and we look forward to working with the ITU on presenting the ‘grandest’ of all Grand Finals and welcoming the world’s best to the magnificent Gold Coast.”Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Commonwealth Games Kate Jones said the triathlon world would be looking to Queensland in September next year. “Hosting thousands of athletes and spectators for this global triathlon event on the Gold Coast reinforces Queensland’s standing as the home of triathlon in Australia,” Jones said.Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the event would be highly anticipated, coming five months after the city hosts the Commonwealth Games. “This is a win for our local triathlon community, our local economy and proof that the Gold Coast’s reputation as a world class sports hub is thriving,” he said.The host of the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final, the Dutch city of Rotterdam, will officially hand the Grand Final baton over to the City of Gold Coast at the conclusion of this year’s event on 11-17 September 2017.www.triathlon.org Related Taking place next year, on 12-16 September, athletes representing 46 nations will be competing at Southport Broadwater Parklands, the site of the successful Jewel ITU World Triathlon Gold Coast event, and home to the 2009 ITU World Championships.The 2018 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final will celebrate the diversity of the sport of triathlon with athletes competing in Elite, Under 23, Junior and Elite Paratriathlon categories as well as the U23/Jnr Mixed Team Relay, Age Group – Standard and Sprint Distance, and Open Paratriathlon events.ITU President and IOC Member, Marisol Casado said the Gold Coast has been a great date on ITU’s calendar for many years and “We are extremely proud that Australia will host the Grand Final next season. The city provides an unforgettable landscape for welcoming not only the elite triathletes, but also thousands of age groupers, and with the total support of the city and the great experience of the local organising committee, I am confident that it will be a really successful event,” she said.With opening and closing ceremonies, a range of associated social events, and the natural setting of the stunning Gold Coast, the 2018 World Championships will be seen as a must do event for many athletes all over the world.
Many child celebrities turn to drug use and alcohol because of their need to satisfy an addiction to fame. “You get a physiological reward when people like you. It triggers your reward system. And so if you lose that, then you start looking for other means of triggering that,” Rutledge said, explaining that becoming addicted to fame leaves you “vulnerable” to other drugs. These influencer-celebrities are at risk for the same challenges faced by traditional Hollywood child stars, made infamous by the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Drew Barrymore, and Michael Jackson. Both Rutledge and Mc Mahon compared this phenomenon to the experience of a singer performing for a stadium of fans. They become high off of that energy. “It’s an incredible feeling,” Mc Mahon said of fame. The most-followed creator on TikTok, Charli D’Amelio, turned 16 on May 1. Loren Gray, whom D’Amelio recently overtook for the top spot on the short-form video platform, turned 18 in April. While the advent of social media apps like TikTok and Instagram have given the world more ways to connect, it’s also changed the meaning of fame and reshaped the path to becoming a celebrity. Perhaps most notably is the fact that everyday children are so easily vaulted into the spotlight with little predictability. Experts warn that these young influencers will face the typical hurdles of child fame, but with the additional complication of real-time social media surveillance by millions and an algorithmically programmed addiction to the instant gratification of a never-ending barrage of notifications. “Your ability to assess risk, your ability to make some cognitive judgments to plan ahead — all of those things are cognitive skills that develop over that period of time,” said media psychologist Pamela Rutledge, PhD, speaking about the period of life before 25, before the “rational” part of the brain is fully developed. Experiencing fame during adolescence, Rutledge said, makes it even harder for celebrities to keep a handle on reality. “Everyone wants to be famous. But in fact, for most of us, that’s not the real world.” … But at the end of the night, they go back to their hotel room, and they’re often alone. “There’s always a risk if there’s that vulnerability, if you really are feeding off that fandom as something that’s fueling you rather than a fueling of a sort of a larger life goal that you have,” Rutledge said. In 1968, Andy Warhol predicted that in the future, “everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes.” He was right, and that was before TikTok, where all it takes to blow up is an iPhone and a pretty face. But Warhol couldn’t have predicted that TikTok’s algorithm would quickly sweep up a huge group of children, making them some of the most famous people in the world in the blink of an eye. The young age of the app’s biggest stars was on full display amid recent drama, as D’Amelio and Chase Hudson, 18, fought over their relationship publicly on Twitter. A series of tweets from both of them implicated other TikTok megastars in the saga, too, including Josh Richards, 18, and Nessa Barrett, 17. … Read the whole story: Insider More of our Members in the Media > …
New research conducted at a large healthcare network shows that patient and provider age are among the characteristics most significantly associated with inappropriate antibiotic prescribing for upper respiratory infections, with provider type and race also playing a role.The study by researchers with Carolinas Healthcare System, published yesterday in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, found that in both adults and children in outpatient settings, the risk of receiving inappropriate antibiotics for four common upper respiratory conditions grew with age, and that older providers were more likely to prescribe antibiotics than younger ones. The study also indicated that white patients were more likely to receive antibiotics than patients of other races, and that advanced practice practitioners, such as nurses and physician assistants, were more likely to prescribe them.The study adds to a growing body of research on outpatient prescribing that indicates patients are too often receiving antibiotics for ailments that don’t require them. It also suggests that when it comes to inappropriate prescribing in doctors’ offices and urgent care clinics, many factors are at play, and the authors of the study say that means that stewardship interventions will have to be multifaceted and tailored to different settings.”This isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all solution,” Lisa Davidson, MD, an author of the study and the medical director for the Antimicrobial Support Network at Carolinas Healthcare System, said in an interview. “What you need in family medicine versus what you need in urgent care are actually going to be different types of interventions.”Nurses, PAs 15% more likely to prescribeIn the study, Davidson and her colleagues looked at antibiotic prescribing for four upper respiratory conditions that are most commonly caused by viruses and do not require antibiotics: acute upper respiratory infection, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, and non-suppurative otitis media (ear infection). Using electronic medical record data, they reviewed prescribing patterns for 448,990 outpatient visits across 246 practices and 898 providers in Carolinas Healthcare System from January 2014 through May 2016.To evaluate the factors associated with antibiotic prescribing, the researchers looked at patient age, race, gender, comorbidities, and insurance status, along with the age of the provider and the type of practice (internal medicine, family medicine, urgent care, or pediatrics). Providers were divided into physicians and advanced practice practitioners. Factors associated with antibiotic prescribing for pediatric and adult patients were evaluated separately.The overall prescribing rate for the four conditions was 407 prescriptions for 1,000 patient visits, with acute bronchitis being the most common indication for which antibiotics were prescribed (703 prescriptions per 1,000 visits). At the practice level, family medicine had the highest rate of prescribing, followed by urgent care, internal medicine, and pediatrics. The most frequently prescribed antibiotic was azithromycin (46.6%), followed by amoxicillin (18.1%) and amoxicillin-clavulanate (11.8%).After the investigators controlled for confounding factors, the results for pediatric patients showed that patients 3 to 9 years of age were 25% more likely than those aged 2 years or younger (the reference group) to receive antibiotics for one of the four conditions, while patients 10 to 19 years had a 31% greater risk. In addition, providers aged 51 to 60 were more than four times more likely to provide an antibiotic than those under the age of 30.Those patterns were also seen in adults, with patients aged 40 to 64 4% more likely to receive an antibiotic than those aged 20 to 39, and providers 51 to 60 years old 92% more likely to prescribe an antibiotic than physicians age 30 and younger. The results also revealed that nurses and physician assistants were 15% more likely to prescribe an antibiotic to an adult patient than physicians were.The authors suggest the reason that older physicians are more likely to prescribe antibiotics for these conditions could be attributed to how views on antibiotics have changed in recent years. “The hypothesis is that antibiotic stewardship, particularly outpatient antibiotic stewardship, is really a more recent concept, so older providers might not have incorporated it into their practice as much,” Davidson said.”For a long time, there was not a recognition that prescribing antibiotics had any potential harm,” co-author Melanie Spencer, PhD, executive director of Carolinas Healthcare System’s Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, added. “People tend to practice as they’ve always practiced.”Patient pressure, other factorsBut the results suggest that patient pressure may be playing a role in prescribing patterns as well. Previous research indicates that when patients believe they need an antibiotic for an ailment, that expectation can influence providers, even if it’s clear that an antibiotic is unnecessary. Although the study did not delve into the underlying reason why older patients were more likely to receive an antibiotic, the authors hypothesize that working-age patients may be pressuring providers and advance practice practitioners for prescriptions.”The most common person coming in [to urgent care] is the person who has work or has to take care of a loved one and comes in because they haven’t been feeling well…and they really need to get back to work or whatever their responsibilities are,” Davidson said. “That puts a lot of pressure on the clinician, because we’re here to make people feel better.”This cultural expectation could explain overprescribing of azithromycin, which requires a much shorter course than amoxicillin. “When we talk with providers, they tell us people often come in and say ‘just give me a Z-pack,'” Spencer said, referring to a form of the brand-name medication Zithromax. “They have enough experience that they know what they want, and they don’t want anything else.”The results also indicate that there may be a racial component to antibiotic prescribing, though the reasons are not well understood. African-American and Asian children were 14% and 31% less likely, respectively, to receive an antibiotic than white children, while African-American and Asian adults were both 15% less likely to receive an antibiotic than white adults. In addition, medical practices in urban areas were 36% more likely to prescribe an antibiotic than those in rural areas, a finding the authors say has not been reflected in other studies.Changing the cultureSo how do you change both the patient and provider culture around antibiotic prescribing?”This issue can’t just be addressed when the patient’s in the room with the doctor,” Davidson said. “It has to address the expectations of the entire interaction.”This means educating patients from the moment they make an appointment all the way through the appointment, and having a consistent message about antibiotics the entire time. Davidson said Carolinas Healthcare System is using a variety of resources to convey this message, including a website, educational videos, and patient checklists. The system also provide clear guidelines explaining when patients should call back to discuss worsening symptoms.It also means providing physicians and advance practice practitioners with data on their prescribing practices. “Everybody thinks that they do a good job, and everyone wants to do the right thing, but until you have the data in front of you and actually know what your prescribing practices are, that’s very hard to do,” Davidson said.Ultimately, Davidson and Spencer hope that identifying patient and provider-level factors associated with inappropriate prescribing will help them create more effective stewardship interventions that acknowledge how different types of settings, providers, and patients can influence prescribing patterns.”When you’re trying to put together an antibiotic stewardship program, knowing about those differences helps you tailor what you’re doing,” Spencer said.See also:Jan 30 Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol study
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Nae’Jon Ward finished 7-for-8 from the free-throw line. Photo by Desirée KeeganNae’Jon Ward knew his team needed him, so when the going got tough he did what he knows best — scored.The junior point guard went 3-for-4 from the free-throw line in the game’s last 15 seconds and racked up 13 second-half points in Bridgehampton’s 63-61 win over Academy Charter for the school’s first Long Island Championship Class D crown.“Whenever my team is counting on me, I’ve gotta make it happen,” said Ward, who finished the March 1 game at Center Moriches High School with 24 points, hitting three three-point shots and converting seven of eight chances from the foul line. “In that moment, all that was going through my head is ‘I have to seal the game.’”The Killer Bees started slowly. After a J.P. Harding (16 points, 10 rebounds) bucket, Academy Charter went on a 9-0 run, and led, by as many as 10 points, 19-9, before an Elijah White (18 points) buzzer-beating three-pointer closed the gap. White went on a tear in the second quarter, scoring 11 points and going 6-for-6 from the free-throw line, while Ward made all three of his shots from beyond the arc for a 38-33 halftime advantage.“We didn’t really know what to expect,” White said, because Academy Charter fielded a team for the first time this season. “It was a little nerve-wracking, because all we heard was that they had two good guards and they were really scrappy. They never played a team that we played, so we had no judgement, just had to come out here and play our hardest.”Ward hit both ends of a 1-and-1 opportunity after a long field goal to push the Killer Bees lead to 46-40 with 2:28 to go in the third, but three straight Academy Charter scores to end the period, and three more to start the fourth gave the team its first lead since the first quarter, 50-46.Harding made a shot from under the basket off a feed from Ward, and swished two free throws to retie things at 50 before Ward completed a three-point play to force Academy Charter to call timeout. Jahqur Carr scored the front end of a 1-and-1 out of the break and grabbed his own rebound off his miss to give Bridgehampton a six-point lead, but three seemed to be Academy Charter’s lucky number, as a 6-0 run knotted the game for the final time at 56-all before a Ward field goal and two White free throws once again put the Killer Bees out front.White said there’s always butterflies, but what made this win so special was the way his team was able to keep its composure when necessary, and score when it counted most.“The whole time we played hard, we stuck together,” White said. “When clutch time came all of us hit free throws and made the layups we were supposed to.”He let out a sigh of relief when Ward gave Bridgehampton a 4-point lead after hitting hitting two foul shots with seconds remaining, but Academy Charter cut the lead to one on a three-point basket with just 3.3 seconds on the clock. Ward was fouled and hit one of two three throws to give Bridgehampton the two-point victory.Bridgehampton coach Ron White said he stressed to his team the importance of defense if it wanted to win a championship, despite Justin Faulkner finishing with 22 points and Jarrett Dingle adding 16 for Academy Charter. While the rebounding wasn’t there in the first half, Bridgehampton finished with 20, and the Killer Bees made fouls count by finishing 22-for-28 from the free-throw line.“We were gritty, trying to get back to the old-school Killer Bees defense, and I’m going to make sure that comes together for us going forward,” White said. “These guys didn’t want to fail, had the crowd on their back, and I commend them for going hard and not quitting.”The coach smiled as he rubbed the golden basketball atop the trophy with the first-ever Class D Long Island championship title etched on the plaque below. Although the Bees have won nine state titles, they have never had to play for a Long Island title because there were no Class D schools in Nassau County.“We came a long way,” said Ward, who along with White made the All-Tournament team. “This is where people didn’t think we’d make it, they didn’t think we’d get here. We came together as brothers, put in countless hours in the gym, and it’s paying off. We’re finally getting recognition for the things we’ve been doing, and I love it.”Bridgehampton will play Section IX’s Roscoe at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh on Monday, March 4, at 6 PM. Roscoe held on to defeat Livingston Manor 45-44 to make it to the regional semifinals. The Killer Bees advanced to the finals last year after edging Livingston Manor firstname.lastname@example.org Nae’Jon Ward finished 7-for-8 from the free-throw line. Photo by Desirée Keegan Share
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Barrister and rights campaigner Martha Spurrier has been appointed the director of human rights group Liberty.She replaces the former in-house lawyer Shami Chakrabarti who stepped down earlier this year.Spurrier (pictured) joins the group from Doughty Street Chambers where she specialised in defending access to justice and the rights of women, children and disabled people.She acted in a fight by two charities, the Howard League and the Prisoners’ Advice Service, against cuts to legal aid for prison law cases. She was previously a lawyer at mental health charity Mind and the Public Law Project, where she led an access to justice project.Spurrier said it was a ‘privilege’ to join the organisation. She said: ‘Liberty is a dynamic, dauntless and unshakably principled force in the fight to protect our rights and freedoms. It has been fearlessly confronting state power for more than eight decades – and its work is needed now more than ever.‘In this fast-paced, complex, digital world the battle to defend our human rights faces new frontiers. Liberty must continue to shine a light on abuses of power and protect equality, dignity and fairness in our society.’Frances Butler, chair of Liberty, described Spurrier as a ‘compelling and fearless campaigner’ with a ‘first-class mind and a quick wit’.She added: ‘We are confident that, under Martha’s leadership, Liberty will continue to vigorously and successfully champion all our rights and freedom.’Spurrier will lead the organisation as it campaigns to stop the investigatory powers bill, save the Human Rights Act, and curb what it described as the government’s ‘discriminatory’ policing, immigration detention and asylum policies.Chakrabarti said: ‘I am proud to be succeeded by such a brilliant young barrister – a woman so capable of taking her advocacy from our highest courts to the nation’s heart.‘With so many threats to refugee protection, online privacy and even our Human Rights Act, Liberty was never more needed, nor its leadership ever in better hands.’Meanwhile 39 Essex Chambers, where Chakrabarti completed her pupillage, announced that the former director is to rejoin the set as a door tenant.
PRESENTING a report to the Spanish Parliament on difficulties encountered with the Madrid – Lleida section of the Madrid – Barcelona high speed line, Development Minister Magdalena Álvarez said last month that the assessment confirmed ‘the impossibility of operating the line with the features for which it was designed and contracted’.This was a reference to speed on the 481 km route being limited to 200 km/h since it was opened by King Juan Carlos in October 2003, although the minister hoped that by the summer it would be possible to run ‘at least at 250 km/h’. The problems relate both to civil engineering and to persistent trouble with ERTMS signalling and train control that was intended to have become operational at the end of 2003. ETCS Level 2 is ultimately envisaged over the whole route to Barcelona, paving the way for trains to run at 350 km/h – making this the world’s fastest railway.In practice, the Level 1 equipment already installed has so far been used only for testing, and trains have used the interim ASFA train protection system, which does not allow speeds above 200 km/h. Álvarez told Parliament that signalling and train control had become a critical issue and that ‘some months’ more were needed to complete functionality and reliability testing of on-board and lineside equipment. The most optimistic forecasts suggest that trials will be completed in June, allowing the maximum speed to be raised in stages to 300 km/h during the second half of 2005. Ávarez blamed the delays on ‘systematic obstruction’ by GIF when Renfe was trying to commission the equipment.Spain is not alone in finding it time-consuming and difficult to bring ERTMS to the point where it is robust and reliable enough for commercial service, and with hindsight the delays on the Madrid – Lleida route are not surprising. More astonishing are the civil engineering failings revealed in the report, which said that there had been a failure to plan and analyse the geological and geotechnical risks, and that ‘design and construction in particularly complex areas’ was inadequate. Not only that, but construction of tunnels, viaducts and other structures had been carried out ‘excessively quickly’. The consequences were serious. No less than 166 km were affected by subsidence and cavities below the track, and some cuttings and embankments were potentially unstable. Putting all this right is expected to cost up to €74m.Yet another hitch was the discovery of cracks in the linings of some tunnels and in the concrete used for the Ebro bridge, while operation at speeds greater than 300 km/h caused ballast particles to be sucked up and thrown around. The report also mentions the need to replace a system that detects objects falling on to the track, considered to be another factor preventing trains from exceeding 200 km/h.The good news is that the first AVE S102 trainsets entered service on February 26 (RG 3.05 p121), operating four services each way every day except Saturday, when three run in either direction. Part of an order for 16 trainsets placed with Talgo and Bombardier for €330m, the trains are expected to run at up to 330 km/h once the ETCS Level 2 equipment is operational.Under the terms of an outline agreement announced on March 1, Siemens is to supply this year the first five of 16 Velaro E (AVE S103) trainsets under a contract signed in 2001. Derivatives of the German ICE3, the trains should have been delivered last year (RG 10.04 p670). Siemens had previously incurred penalties of €12·9m for late delivery, and the manufacturer has now agreed to pay a further €8·1m. The agreement increases the maximum penalty for late delivery to 12% of contract value or €48m.