Column Eight: On track for the fast lane

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The Independent Online
James Sherwood, head of the Sea Containers shipping group, has already put in a bid to run several British Rail services once they are privatised. Among his innovations may be double-decker trains and - although this is still on the drawing-board - plans to merge rail and road with the introduction of 'jam-busting' car shuttles.

Mr Sherwood has attempted to merge rail and road before, with an unsuccessful design for the Channel tunnel back in 1985. The major drawback to his twin-bore tunnel proposal was that, once an hour, cars would have to be prevented from entering the tunnel to allow trains to thunder past on tracks set flush with the two-lane road carriageway.

One commentator described it as 'remarkably simple'. More cutting was the observation that it had 'a distinct back-of-the envelope air'.

Hongkong & Shanghai and Midland banks will soon have to face the nitty-grittiest aspect of their merger - the problem of how senior employees address one another. Life at the Hong Kong institution apparently apes life at public school. Colleagues use surnames, viz: 'My dear Smith'. In the high street-orientated Midland, they tend to use - horror - Christian names: 'Dear Brian'. There is more to this clash of cultures than first thought.

Emap, whose publications range from Smash Hits to Fishkeeping Answers, is inflicting Nintendo magazine upon an unsuspecting public this autumn, with full blessing from the computer games maker.

The launch print-run of 250,000 copies at pounds 1.95 each would make the magazine one of the largest UK sellers, dwarfing such stalwarts as New Musical Express, Tatler, and even Horse and Hound. But if you're paying pounds 120 for a Nintendo set and pounds 40 a game, pounds 1.95 is a drop in the ocean. Especially if it helps Mario rescue the dratted princess from the castle.

Smelly advertisements have just hit Japan, to great acclaim. The first, reeking not of Obsession or Passion, but oranges, appeared in 5.3 million editions of the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest circulation daily newspaper, earlier this week.

The ad, mundanely for a refrigerator, showed a picture of oranges that supposedly stay fresh in the fridge for a week. The caption proclaimed: 'Fragrant ink - rub here.' Sadly our man in Tokyo reports that the fragrance was less reminiscent of a Mediterranean citrus grove than a synthetic bubblegum additive.

Shareholders at Marks & Spencer's lively annual meeting yesterday heard the usual line about high street gloom. Does this explain why a bell-ringing, be-ruffled Town Crier was standing outside the Moorgate sandwich store at lunchtime with the news that pounds 1.19 lines will be sold for 99p?

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