ESTONIA: The Ministry of Economic Affairs & Communications and the Ministry of the Environment are preparing a railway electrification strategy after receiving cabinet backing for the development of proposals.The government envisages that electrification works could be undertaken in 2022-28, supporting the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 70% from the 1990 figure by 2030.Minister of the Environment Rene Kokk put forward various options to reduce emissions from the transport, small-scale energy and agricultural sectors in June. It was felt that that transport offered the best opportunity for a reduction in CO2 emissions, and railway electrification would be the most efficient way to achieve this.Kokk said significant investment in recent years had made rail travel more comfortable and accessible, but the percentage of the national network which is electrified is one of the lowest in the EU.‘Electrification of the rail network would help to reduce both its environmental impact and its noise, while increasing travel speed’, Kokk explained, adding that it would reduce fuel costs by €5m/year.Passenger operator Elron carried almost 4·1 million people in the first six months of this year, a 5% increase on the same period last year and a 50% increase since new trains were introduced five years ago. Demand-based pricing was introduced on August 1, in an effort to encourage travel at less busy times.To handle the growth in ridership the government has approved a tender for the supply of two more EMUs, as well as four hybrid units for use on express services.
TUSCALOOSA – There’s dodging bullets, and then there’s what Alabama basketball did on Sunday afternoon in Coleman Coliseum.The Crimson Tide squeaked by Appalachian State 60-59 to improve to 8-3 on the season.With 27.7 seconds remaining, Alabama turned the ball over on a five-second call. Appalachian State took over, but never got off a good shot.The Tide, who wasn’t in the penalty, fouled with 8 seconds left and again with 3 seconds left which forced the Mountaineers into a tough three-point attempt at the buzzer. The shot bounced off of the top of the backboard, allowing the Tide to hold on.Tide coach Anthony Grant said the team was just happy to come out with the win.“They gave us everything we wanted tonight,” Grant said. “But I’m proud of our guys for being able to stick together and make enough plays both offensively and defensively to come away with the win.”Forward Mike Kessens had his most complete game in an Alabama uniform. Kessens scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to give him his first double-double in his Alabama career. He also added three steals.“They were really competitive and pushed us,” Kessens said of Appalachian State’s big men. “Coach said they were going to come in and attack us, so we had to attack them and I think we did that. That’s what I was trying to do is just attack and I think it worked out well for us.”Kessens played through a bloody nose after taking a basketball to the face from teammate Riley Norris. Norris was trying to save the ball from going out of bounds and threw it off of Kessens’ face. Grant said Kessens played with a “tweaked ankle” as well.Guard Levi Randolph put in 14 points and had a team-high five assists. Guard Ricky Tarrant added 11 points before fouling out in the final seconds.Starting center Jimmie Taylor didn’t score, but he had a career-high seven blocks. Taylor is the first Alabama player to swat five or more shots in a game since Moussa Gueye had five blocks versus Kentucky on Jan. 22, 2013.“Jimmie can be a game changer for us on the defensive end because he’s so long and athletic,” Grant said. “He does a great job for us. … We’ve challenged him to captain our defense.”