The UK government is ending the rail franchise system in the biggest shake-up of the industry in 25 years.

Emergency funding measures for rail companies have been extended for six to 18 months to help them get through the Covid-19 crisis, as the first step towards a complete overhaul of the railway system.

The Department for Transport said the move had ended franchising as the first step in bringing Britain’s fragmented network back together. It hailed the emergency measures as a “transitional stage to a new system, the biggest change to the railways in a quarter of a century”.

So far the government has spent £3.5bn covering train companies’ losses since the pandemic started. It effectively nationalised them in March when rail franchise agreements were suspended. Rail travel collapsed by 95% of pre-pandemic levels during the coronavirus lockdown in late March and April, and is still down about 70%.

Under … Read the rest

Last week’s article focused on the nine key elements of Joe Biden’s plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice. Today, I want to focus more narrowly on Biden’s goal to decarbonize the U.S. power sector by 2035.

Although some of the “big picture” elements are laid out on Biden’s website, many of the details are lacking. However, Biden has discussed some of those details in campaign speeches.

In a July campaign speech in Delaware, Biden discussed decarbonizing the transportation sector. He said his administration would “build and install a network of 500,000 charging stations along our existing and new highways” so electric vehicles (EVs) can displace gasoline. He also mentioned plans to offer cash rebates to trade in older vehicles. This is notable because it would actually boost the demands on the power sector, which will increase the challenges of decarbonizing the sector.

He spoke about retrofitting lighting … Read the rest

Nikola Corp., the electric-vehicle startup that recently partnered with General Motors Co., said its founder stepped down as executive chairman, coming just days after the company was reported to be the focus of investigations by U.S. regulators following a highly critical short-seller report.

Trevor Milton, the social-media-savvy public face of the startup he founded in 2014, was replaced by board member Stephen Girsky, whose title will be chairman, Nikola said in a statement late Sunday. Shares of Phoenix-based Nikola plunged 33% at one point in U.S. pre-market trading.

Nikola has found itself in the crosshairs of short seller Hindenburg Research, which said Sept. 10 that Nikola deceived investors about its business prospects — claims that are now the subject of investigations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and, reportedly, the Department of Justice. On Sunday night, Milton said he planned to defend himself against “false allegations” in a … Read the rest

(Bloomberg) — HSBC Holdings Plc slumped below its financial crisis low set more than a decade ago as pressures mount on several fronts, including a potential threat to its China expansion plans and increased scrutiny of money laundering controls.The London-based bank’s Hong Kong shares on Monday slid below their closing low for March 2009, closing at HK$29.30. They have plunged 52% this year, reaching the lowest since 1995. In London, HSBC fell 6.2% as of 11:02 a.m. local time, compared with the 3% decline in the benchmark FTSE 100 Index.Europe’s largest bank is a possible candidate for China’s “unreliable entity list” that aims to punish firms, organizations or individuals that damage national security, the Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper reported Saturday. A day later, HSBC was among global banks named in a report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on lenders that “kept profiting from powerful and dangerous players” … Read the rest

The Royal Mint will not produce any new £2 or 2p coins for at least a decade, as its stocks remain high because of the slump in use of cash, a trend that has accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic.

The rapid decline in demand for coins has left the Mint, which has been producing coins in Britain for more than 1,000 years, with a mountain of excess stock.

It reported in March 2020 that it had stocks of £2 coins 26 times over its target, and was eight times over target for 2p coins.

The fall in the use of cash has been detailed by a report from the National Audit Office (NAO), which monitors the effectiveness of public bodies.

A decade ago, cash was used in six out of 10 transactions, but by 2019 that had fallen to less than three in 10, and some forecasts suggest it may … Read the rest

Stocks limped to the finish on Friday, with uncertainty over how well North American markets were going to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, or how soon.

The TSX toppled 49.94 points, to close Friday and the week at 16,197.78. On the week, the index fell 24.68 points.

The Canadian dollar fell 0.26 cents to 75.78 cents U.S.

Gold stocks led the downfall Friday, with OceanaGold sliding 16 cents, or 5.8%, to $2.60, while Wesdome Gold Mines dropped 59 cents, or 4.5%, to $12.57.

Among communications issues, Corus Entertainment slumped 26 cents, or 8.2%, to $2.91, while Rogers Communications backpedaled 86 cents, or 1.6%, to $51.86.

In real-estate, Artis REIT gave back 24 cents, or 2.7%, to $8.58, while Allied Properties REIT lost 88 cents, or 2.3%, to $37.26.

Tech stocks led the brief parade of winners, as Absolute Sofware picked up 95 cents, or 7%, to $14.61, while Sierra Wireless … Read the rest

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Disney’s long-awaited and controversial live-action film Mulan hit theaters in Hong Kong on Thursday after a disappointing debut in mainland China on Sept. 11.

The film generated $23.2 million in its opening weekend at the mainland China box office, sinking below analysts’ estimates that it would rake in $30 million to $40 million. Early indications suggest the movie’s reception in Hong Kong will be underwhelming too.

The film’s mainland China debut was considered a failure not just because it missed analysts’ expectations, but also because Disney had poured five years and $200 million into the film, in part, to ensure it appealed to a Chinese audience. Disney cast actors popular in China, hired Chinese consultants, shared the script with Chinese authorities, and cut scenes that Chinese … Read the rest

(Bloomberg) — Oracle Corp. and Walmart Inc. plan an minority investment in TikTok Global, giving companies that have little experience in social media a stake in a fast growing music and video-sharing app that became the focal point of a trade standoff between the U.S. and China.Oracle and Walmart together could end up with as much as 20% of the entity, purchased in a round of financing that would precede an initial public offering, the companies said Saturday. Sequoia Capital and General Altantic, current investors in TikTok parent ByteDance Ltd., could also pursue stakes in the fundraising round, a person with knowledge of the matter said. ByteDance will retain majority control.ByteDance commenced a search for investors in TikTok’s U.S. operations after Trump proclaimed that TikTok was a threat to U.S. national security, and ordered the app be sold to an American business or shut down by Sept. 20. The president … Read the rest