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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 133

Date:- 10 January 2004

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IT MAY be the deep mid winter, but the search for spring began this week across the UK with the launch of "Spring into Science". People of all ages will be hunting for the first horse chestnut buds, listening out for the first song thrush and looking for the first tadpoles.

"Spring into Science", a nationwide investigation into phenology, the study of the timing of natural seasonal events, has been launched in the run up to National Science Week 2004 to be held over 12 March to the 21 March by the BA (British Association for the Advancement of Science) and the Woodland Trust. The investigation has been designed so that people of all ages, from school children to office workers to pensioners can take part. the Location does not matter, whether they are inner city or rural.

Speaking at the launch of "Spring into Science", Jill Attenborough, Phenology Project Manager at the Woodland Trust, said:- "Keeping track of Nature's Calendar, the timing of the seasons, is fun, easy and free. Anyone can be a recorder. Wherever you are, there is always something to see. We even want to know the first date that you cut your lawn. Each observation logged in the run-up to National Science Week will help the Woodland Trust and the UK Phenology Network to understand more about how our plants and animals are responding to a changing climate."

Jill Nelson, Director of Programmes at the BA, said:- "Spring into Science is a fun, accessible and important way for everyone to take part in National Science Week. The issues at the heart of the investigation is the timing of the seasons and whether it is changing. It is important not just to scientists studying climate change, but to every one of us." 

A network of thousands of volunteers across the UK already record the first signs of spring, such as the first ladybird, first call of the song thrush, tree leaf buds bursting, birds nesting and the first appearance of newts, frogspawn, and bees. Now you can join them. You don't have to record everything to be part of "Spring into Science" and you don't have to be an expert - the plants and animals have been chosen
carefully so that wherever you live you can take part and even one record is valuable. "Spring into Science" launches on 8 January in London. To find out how to take part in the study, or for more about National Science Week 2004, visit:-

Virgin takes take top national business travel award for best rail network

VIRGIN Trains yesterday beat Eurostar and Heathrow Express to win first prize for its state-of-the-art Voyager and Pendolino trains in the Rail Network category of the prestigious national Business Travel World Awards 2003. These awards, sponsored by the publication ‘Business Travel World’, came on the day of the successful first scheduled passenger run of a Pendolino train from Manchester to London.

The coveted trophy was presented to Virgin Chairman Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Trains Director, Sales and Revenue Management Graham Leech at a ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House last night.

Accepting the award, Sir Richard Branson said:- "I am proud and delighted to receive this trophy as an acknowledgement of the progress we have made. Our splendid team effort is changing what was once described as ‘the worst railway in the world’ into the world’s best."

Virgin Trains was the unanimous choice of the judges, with many of the bright prospects identified by last year’s judging panel coming to fruition. They felt that Virgin Trains has continued to improve and is now, in the words of one judge, "spearheading change in the industry."

In its submission, Virgin Trains gave examples of train safety improvements such as high visibility exterior doors and safety instructions in Braille. Also, it demonstrated a £1 billion investment in state-of-the-art new Voyager and Super Voyager trains for Cross Country services and passenger trials of the brand new Pendolino train for the West Coast Main Line. Also, the company achieved a creditable performance improvement of 6.2 per cent on its Cross Country service compared to the last corresponding 12-month period.

Virgin Trains yesterday ran its first scheduled Pendolino passenger service from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston, which arrived 11 minutes early.

Sir Richard Branson enjoyed a double celebration as his airline, Virgin Atlantic, won the award for best long-haul business airline.

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Southport Reporter is a registered Trade Mark of Patrick Trollope.   Copyright © Patrick Trollope 2004.