A likely story

"Direct services from the regions to start in 1996"

The promise contained in the 1996 French Railways brochure has been broken. There is no likelihood of "new direct Eurostar services from Glasgow and Manchester to both Paris and Brussels, and from Birmingham to Paris" that the company says will begin this year. Rolling stock for the Paris services has been delayed. To Brussels, the train operators are busy trying to fill existing services from London, without the problem of having to sell tickets on extra trains from Glasgow and Manchester to the Belgian capital.

No sign yet of the other great innovation in the French Railways brochure The European Night Services linking London with Holland and Germany in the spring.

Trouble spots:

Advice from the Foreign Office on avoiding danger zones in Europe and the Middle East

Corsica: "There have been several recent attacks on property belonging to foreigners, including two British-registered yachts. Yacht owners should seek advice from the harbourmaster on entering Corsican ports and should consider moving on if they do not obtain adequate assurances of security while in port."

Spain: "Those wishing to travel to Spain should bear in mind the recent upsurge in terrorist attacks apparently aimed at tourists, but British tourists have not been singled out."

Bulgaria: "Recently the incidence of robbery with violence against foreigners has increased, particularly on trains and near Sofia's central railway station. Under no circumstances accept any food or drink from strangers as there is a risk it may be drugged."

Israel: "There have been terrorist incidents during the last few months in various parts of Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, particularly bomb explosions in buses and busy shopping areas and rocket attacks on northern Israel from the Lebanon."

Saudi Arabia: "Following the bomb explosion at Al Khobar on 25 June there have been press reports of a call by an Islamic extremist for Britain and France to withdraw their military personnel from Saudi Arabia. In this context this could be taken as an implied threat."

Iran: "There have recently been a number of cases of tourists being asked for identification by bogus policemen, who have then made off with the visitor's wallet and currency. Keep passports separate from other valuables."

Bargain of the week

The Worshipful Company of Shipwrights does not crop up often in these pages. But the generosity of the guild could mean the trip of a lifetime for four young readers. It is offering four grants, worth pounds 2,500, to allow sailors aged 18-25 to take part in the voyage of the ship Endeavour, a replica of Captain Cook's vessel of discovery. In October, two places are available from Perth in Australia to Port Elizabeth in South Africa, and two more for the 12-week voyage to London starting in December. Young people with ocean sailing experience should call the National Maritime Museum on 0181-312 6790.

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