Ryanair set up petition against strikes

July 1st, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

ryanair 300x225 Ryanair set up petition against strikesWith traffic control unions striking all over the place, Ryanair have decided to launch a petition about it all. Are they supporting the workers, hoping they get better treatment at work? Of course not! This is Ryanair!

Their petition is called Keep Europe’s Skies Open’ and is a protest against further strikes from those pesky union, commie rats! They may not have said ‘commie rats’, but they may have muttered ‘pinkos’ under their breath.

Of course, French air traffic controllers are due to walk out this week, so this is a timely petition. The last time there was one of these strikes, the airlines of Europe had to cancel over 3,600 flights, troubling over 5000,000 travellers.

With online petitions being just the thing in 2015 (look how many people signed the Jeremy Clarkson one), Ryanair hopes they’ll be able to attract one million signatures from people across Europe, which they’ll then present to Brussels and urge the EU Commission and the EU Parliament to finally take action (look how Jeremy Clarkson didn’t get his job back at Top Gear, for more on that).

Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said: “It’s unacceptable that Europe’s consumers repeatedly have their holiday and travel plans disrupted or cancelled by the selfish actions of ATC unions every summer, who use strikes as a first weapon rather than a last resort. French ATC unions will again stage three further days of strikes this week, which will impact hundreds of thousands of European consumers.”

“It is particularly reprehensible that these strikes are taking place at the height of the peak summer season, deliberately targeting holidaymakers and families.”

“Today we have launched this keepeuropeskiesopen.com website where consumers can support our online petition calling on the European Commission and European Parliament to either remove the ATC unions’ right to strike, or allow other European ATCs to operate French or Spanish airspace during these repeated strikes.”

“It’s time the Commission and parliament took action to prevent Europe’s families and ordinary air travellers having their hard earned holidays or travel plans regularly disrupted by these ATC unions closing the skies over Europe. If the EU won’t listen to the airlines, perhaps they’ll listen to Europe’s citizens.”

Want to sign it or look at it mockingly? Whatever your angle, click here to see it.

Channel Tunnel closed due to fire

June 30th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

eurostar channel tunnel Channel Tunnel closed due to fireThe Channel Tunnel has been closed thanks to a fire.

This is a result of strike action from French ferry workers, and both Eurostar and Shuttle services have been stopped for the foreseeable after demonstrators caused a fire on the tracks at Calais.

Industrial action has caused all kinds of trouble and travel chaos on both sides of the Channel last week, after people decided to protest, worried about their jobs.

You may have also seen the area in the news, after migrants tried to stow away on lorries that were stuck in queues on the French side of the Channel Tunnel.

Eurostar, who run the trains from St Pancras to France and Belgium, issued a service update saying: “Eurotunnel has been closed following a fire caused by MyFerryLink demonstrators outside the tunnel.”

“Delays to Eurostar services are likely, more information to follow.”

The strike action in Calais has led to the closure of the port and suspension of ferry sailings from Dover also. All services between the Port of Dover and Calais are affected.

Which trains will be affected by the heatwave?

June 30th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

sunburn 253x300 Which trains will be affected by the heatwave?The trains in Britain are not equipped to deal with the weather. We’re talking pretty much all types of weather here, and seeing as we’re due a heatwave, things are going to get tricky on the rails.

Of course, many trains will lack ventilation and air conditioning, but there’s more. Network Rail has imposed speed restrictions on some services, and in addition to that, they’re advising that everyone checks their journeys before travelling.

A First Great Western spokesperson said: “Network Rail has advised that, due to the anticipated exceptionally hot weather, there will be speed restrictions to protect track points in the Thames Valley region on Tuesday 30 June 2015.”

“As a result there will be no fast trains between London Paddington and Bourne End or Henley-on-Thames from 12pm until 8pm. Trains from London Paddington will terminate at Twyford for a connection with a branch line train to Henley-on-Thames, which will remain on the branch line.”

“Trains from London Paddington will terminate at Maidenhead for a connection with a branch line train to Bourne End, which will remain on the branch line.”

So what’s going on? Why does a bit of sunshine cock things up? The spokesperson continued: “As rails are made out of steel, they expand as they heat up and are subject to strong compression. This expansion has to be managed to reduce the risk of track buckling.”

“If the track does buckle, the line must be closed and the track repaired before services can resume, causing considerable disruption. Usually, these repairs can’t be done until the temperature of the rails has dropped.”

“If a section of track is judged to be at risk, we introduce local speed restrictions – slower trains exert lower forces on the track and reduce the chance of buckling.”

So there you go. Network Rail have even made a little video about it all too.

If you’re unimpressed with any delays or cancellations, then you’d be wise to check out our guide to getting refunds and compensation for train journeys.

athens greece1 300x200 What you need to know if youre holidaying in GreeceAre you going on holiday to Greece? Have you been watching the news and getting jumpy about it all? Well, here’s what you need to know.

Today, the 29th June 2015, the currency of Greece is still the Euro. It is advised that you take other forms of payment with you, as well as cash. Make sure you’ve got your debit card and/or credit card. However, there’s a possibility that Greek banking services (including service of ATMs and the processing of credit card payments) could become limited at short notice.

You need to make sure you have enough in Euros to cover any emergencies.

There’s also a lot of strike action going on over there, so there can be disruption to public transport in and out of Greece. There’s also a lot of demonstrations going down, especially in Athens. The government have a dedicated page regarding planned major strikes and demos, which you can see here.

More worryingly, there’s a ‘general threat’ of terrorism and acts of political violence, and again, there’s a dedicated page where you can keep informed about all that, here.

If you’re in Greece and you need to call the emergency services, the number is 112. If you have your UK mobile with you, you can dial 999 and it will automatically put you through to the Greek emergency services.

New strict rules for being drunk on a plane

June 25th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

plane 300x225 New strict rules for being drunk on a planeThere has been a bit of bother, with people being drunk on planes. Recently, a drunk lady ‘performed’ a sex act while on a flight, and we’ve seen BA staff getting threatened with a stabbing too. More recently, a man was taken off a Thomas Cook plane by police for being disorderly and sexually assaulting a stewardess, forcing a flight to land.

With that, budget airline Jet2.com, say that more measures are needed to protect staff and non abusive passengers, from drunk people. The airline say that they’re backed by some of the UK’s biggest travel operators, in what they deem to be an increasingly serious problem.

Phil Ward, managing director of Jet2.com said: “We are a family airline and holiday company carrying millions of passengers every year. These are people who have chosen to take their well-earned summer breaks with us and we want them to have a wonderful time. Therefore, under no circumstances will we allow the disruptive few to spoil the experience for the majority of the fantastic customers that fly with us.”

Jet2.com are working with other holiday companies, industry bodies and the UK’s leading airports, to bring in more comprehensive measures to stop disruptive behaviour associated with air travel. And they see it as people who have had far too much to drink before flying.

The company added that cabin crew are more frequently dealing with passengers who are abusive, racist, noisy and aggressive, which is causing misery for everyone else. They added that they have an educational scheme to make sure passengers are aware of the impact of alcohol at high altitude and that they’ve given staff the power to make quick decisions when it comes to disruptive passengers, including verbal and written warnings.

One of the things that can be doled out, is a bill to the culprits, for the cost of the diversion and the potential for legal action, after the flight has completed.

Jet2.com are taking this further too, writing to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, and they’re urging the Government to take decisive action to help enforce new, stricter policies.

Network Rail to be investigated

June 12th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

traintrack 300x225 Network Rail to be investigatedThere’s going to be an investigation into Network Rail’s performance. A report concluded that the company are failing to meet their own targets on punctuality and maintenance projects, which will surprise precisely no-one who has ever used a train.

Regulators say that Network Rail’s work to sort out overhead power lines is 77% behind schedule, and in addition to that, work with signalling equipment are 63% behind schedule across the nation. As for their own punctuality targets, they’re failing those too.

The Office of Road and Rail say that reliability on busy commuter routes operated by Thameslink, Southern and ScotRail are also “below requirements”. And, to round it all off, even though Network Rail haven’t finished what they need to do, they’ve still overspent on their budget for 2014/15 by £230m.

They’re incredible aren’t they? Their balls are made from indestructible brass.

During the investigation, the ORR aims to spot the problems which are stopping Network Rail from “delivering on its commitments to passengers”. We suspect that the investigation will find that the people running the show are about as useful as a jumper made out of knives.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “There are clearly opportunities to improve following decades of underinvestment in the rail network. However, it is worth highlighting that we operate the safest passenger network in Europe.”

Strike affects flights to-and-from Spain

June 5th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Mobile phone holiday beach GUIDE 01 Strike affects flights to and from SpainAre you flying to, or from Spain any time soon? Then you should know about some strikes that could potentially cock your journey up.

There’s plans for Spanish Air Traffic controllers to go on strike, starting Monday. Controllers will be on strike for 4 hours throughout the day, and there’ll be four days of strike action.

If you are travelling on Monday, then you really need to contact your airline and check whether or not your journey is affected.

The strike is planned to take place on four separate days June 8th, 10th, 12th and 14th. They’ll take place for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, and there’s no word on the exact timings as yet, but they will be confirmed at some point.

Some airlines will contact customers via email or text, so keep an eye out for that.

This strike is in response to the punishment of 61 controllers who closed air space from the Barcelona Control Centre in 2010 and walked out over a pay dispute. One of the controllers was not reinstated, so staff are supporting them and protesting against the punishments handed out.

Picture 26 Theres 70% more of us on trains and less services to go around!We all know that Britain’s trains are often borderline farcical and it is very, very British to complain about them all the time. However, it is with good reason as apparently, we’ve reached record levels of overcrowding, and our trains are filling up faster than anywhere else in Europe.

According to reports, train journeys have soared by 70% in the last 10 years, going up by 4.2% this year alone.

With that, the miles covered is dropping, and of course, the train companies are putting ticket prices up and making a pretty penny from the whole ailing, creaking thing. Rail companies made £8.8billion from fares in 2014/15, from more than 1.65 billion journeys, which is up 69.5% since 2002/2003.

This is the fastest growth in the EU, and both are new, unenviable records.

The TSSA rail union said: “These record numbers must mean it is time to give something back to passengers – a fares freeze from next January.”

Of course, there’s a lot of investment in the high-speed rail that is happening in the UK, but seeing as that won’t be happening for years, it seems that passengers are being given a rough ride until then.

Click here for our guide to getting a refund on your train journey.

 

We all know that trains can be a royal pain in the hole, but one is coming under intense scrutiny after being accused of having ‘flea infested seats’.

Greater Anglia are coughing up £30 million to fix problems after furious customers complained about the state of the trains that connect London to the south-east of England.

Greater Anglia trains 500x332 Train company forks out £30 million to fix flea infested seats

A Twitter page called @Delayed_Again deals with commuters’ complaints about the service, and shares a wide range of negative views. Ian Edwards, who runs the account, told the Mirror that the train carriages are like ‘filthy skips’. He added: ”The carriages have not had a proper clean since the Olympics in 2012. During the Olympics the trains ran brilliantly and were really clean, but it just hasn’t carried on.”

“We’ve got photos of people with flea bites from the seats and the dust that comes up. The toilets are an absolute disgrace – they’re always blocked. I expect a reliably run, air conditioned, clean train and I get none of the above. Instead, I’ve got a 1980s skip that is falling to pieces without air conditioning.”

As you can see from the pictures, the carriages look like they’re in a state of disrepair and could do with more than just a clean.

Greater Anglia trains 2 500x500 Train company forks out £30 million to fix flea infested seats

Abellio Greater Anglia defended themselves by saying that they’ve invested more than £30 million to upgrade their service, including 40 extra cleaners.

A spokesman for Abellio Greater Anglia said: “We are investing more than £30m to improve our train fleet, customer service and train performance and cleanliness. We have recently recruited 40 extra cleaners to bring our train presentation staff to 300 across our company.”

“We have increased the frequency of deep cleans and undertaken more extensive cleaning on trains throughout the day. Our train cleaners are working very hard to improve standards and we welcome customers’ co-operation to keep our trains clean and tidy.”

Bank Holiday rail strike is officially off!

May 21st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

train1 297x300 Bank Holiday rail strike is officially off!After all that fuss about the strike that was happening on the railways this Bank Holiday weekend, with people thinking they wouldn’t be able to ride the rails to fun and sunshine (or, seeing parent and being rained on), worry no more!

The strike by various unions has been called off and suspended after Network Rail put a new pay offer on the table. Whether you think they deserve a pay-rise or not, is beside the point – you can catch trains this weekend and worry about it another time.

Meanwhile, the Tube drivers on London Underground are still to be balloted for strikes in a squabble over pay for new all-night services, but that won’t have any impact in the immediate future.

So, will all the trains be running as normal this weekend? Well, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be, but keep an eye out for announcements.

The RMT’s general secretary, Mick Cash, said: “Following the Acas talks, RMT has received a revised offer that enables us to suspend the planned industrial action while we consult in full with our Network Rail representatives.”

Southern Rail fine customers for standing

May 21st, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

train Southern Rail fine customers for standingSouthern Rail are a PR disaster at the moment. A director at the train company admitted that their trains being on time were ‘few and far between’, while one fella hates them so deeply, that they got a tattoo announcing as such, with some rather colourful language to boot.

And now, they’re only making themselves look worse as they’ve fined a bunch of customers who were forced to stand-up because the train was too crowded.

Commuters heading to London found themselves on a train that was so packed that they had to stand-up in the first class section, because their wasn’t room anywhere else. Did anyone make provisions or stop this from happening? Of course not. Southern Rail ticket inspectors were too busy doling out fines because customers didn’t have the right ticket.

Add all this to being one of the least punctual train companies in the country, coupled with some of the highest fares, and you’ll see why people think they’re a laughing stock.

Peter Boyland wrote to his MPs - Crispin Blunt and Sam Gyimah – to complain about all this, saying: ”The train was so packed in fact that the ‘revenue officers’ were unable to pass through to me to check my ticket, despite my clear proximity to them. This is a fine example of the attitude of Southern, who only seem concerned about protecting their revenue, and less about providing an acceptable level of service.”

A Southern Rail spokesperson said that these fines are just dandy, and with a straight-face, said that passengers would have been fined either £20 or twice the price of a single fare – they choose the fine by going for whichever of the two amounts is greater.

“In this instance, passengers who were issued with penalty fares were sitting in first class accommodation whilst holding standard class tickets. First class accommodation is not declassified automatically if the train is busy, but Conductors can use their discretion to declassify if it is deemed necessary,” the spokesperson told The Independent.

Refund and Compensation

If you think you’re entitled to a refund or some compensation, have a look at our guide to getting your money back. While the train wasn’t late enough to get reimbursed, the fact remains that Southern didn’t provide an adequate service and it is worth trying to dispute the fines and asking for the price of your ticket back.

Let us know how you get on.

london underground sign 300x199 How to... get a refund from Transport for LondonWe’ve told you how to get a refund from train companies, but what about Transport for London? If your DLR or London Underground tube train left you unsatisfied, you can get compensation, and here’s how.

If your Tube or DLR service was delayed by 15 minutes or more, or your London Overground service was delayed by 30 minutes or more, TfL will refund you the single fare for the journey you were delayed on.

Of course, they’ll only refund you if the service is delayed by something that they deem to be in their hands. They won’t cough-up if the journey has been held up by planned service changes and engineering work.

They won’t pay out if there’s a security alert, or ‘a customer incident’. There’s the old chestnut of ‘averse weather conditions’ too. Also, if you’re enjoying free travel concessions, you can’t get a refund on that.

How To Apply For A Refund

Okay, if you made your journey with an Oyster card, a paper ticket, key card or c2c smartcard, here’s how you apply for a refund. You have to apply within 14 days of your delayed journey. You’ll need your Oyster card to do it – then, click here, and start the refund process.

Sign-in online and hit the ’My Refunds’ tab, hit ’service delay refund’ and follow the instructions there.

There’s a ‘paper ticket’ option, which allows you to claim back for other types of journey. Or, if you travelled with a contactless payment card, you’ll have to sign-in to your TfL online account and then click on the contactless payment card you travelled with and in the ‘card details’ bit, hit the ‘claim for service delay’ option.

And you can watch this video too.

Deathwatch: Thomson and First Choice

May 14th, 2015 No Comments By Thewlis

Bitterwallet Thomson seat fees Deathwatch: Thomson and First ChoiceThings are looking up aren’t they? We have more disposable income than we’ve had in a long time and we’re all looking forward to our summer jollies. Still, it seems that despite increased bookings and a higher average spend, two of the UK’s best known travel brands are set to disappear after owner TUI confirmed plans to use a single brand to promote its holidays.

Both Thomson, which dates back to 1965, and First Choice are owned by the TUI group, and following a merger of the UK TUI company with the German  TUI AG, the group has decided to sell holidays throughout Europe under a single brand, rather than under the recognised brands in each individual company. The transition expected to take up to three years.

Thomson and First Choice entertained 5.2 million holidaymakers last year, with the top getaway spots including the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands and Greece. The combined TUI brand, however, now has more than 300 hotels, 136 planes and 1,800 shops across Europe selling holidays to 30 million customers in 180 countries. TUI say that they have currently sold 59% of this year’s summer holidays, with bookings up 2% on a year ago, and average selling prices also up 1%.

But don’t cry over the loss of Thomson too soon- joint chief executive Peter Long said the firm would begin phasing out other European regional brands in the Netherlands and France, leaving First Choice and Thomson as the last brands to go.

He said: “These will be the last to be rebranded because of their size. It will give us time to learn as we go. The move is aimed at strengthening our position in our markets.”

TUI Group also owns UK hotel booking website LateRooms, but has just announced that it will also be putting the website, founded in Salford in 1999, up for sale with a view to being rid of it by the end of financial year.

Ready for some rail strikes?

May 13th, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

train Ready for some rail strikes?Hey! The Tories are in, which means only one thing! RAIL STRIKES! Not to mention the phrase WIDESPREAD CHAOS!

It seems that the unions are planning on having a load of walkouts and only have to give 7-days notice for a strike, which means that everything could go, scientifically speaking, tits up for a bit. This newest strike has the backing of 60% of the members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union.

General secretary of the RMT Mick Cash said: “Our members have decisively rejected the pay package offered by Network Rail. This is a massive mandate for action and shows the anger of safety-critical staff across the rail network at attacks on their standards of living and their job security.”

“It is now down to NR to start taking this issue seriously, to understand the deep-seated grievance felt by their staff and to come forward with a renewed offer which protects pay and jobs.”

“As far as we are concerned, the one-off, non-consolidated, lump-sum payment this year is wholly inadequate and fails to recognise the massive pressures staff are working under to keep services running at a time when the company is generating profits of £1 billion.”

So, go buy a bicycle or a car or something.

easyjet 300x180 easyJet making profit again with record performanceThe folks at easyJet will be thrilled this week, as they herald all that lovely profit after a “record performance”.

Their results for the six months to 31st March showed a pre-tax profit of £7m, which is not bad at all, considering that the same period last year saw them making a loss of £53m.

So what caused this upsurge? Well, easyJet said that Easter being earlier helped to boost their revenue and profits, as it fell inside the reporting period, when normally, it doesn’t. Fuel bills being somewhat cheaper didn’t do them any harm either.

easyJet’s revenues grew as they made an average profit of 21p per seat, trouncing the previous year’s results of a £1.70 loss per seat.

Chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “easyJet has delivered a record performance in the first half of the year by continuing to deliver its strategy of making travel easy and affordable for passengers. The profit in the half reflects the delivery of our customer focused revenue initiatives and a strong finish to the ski season as well as the benefit we received from the lower fuel price and favourable foreign exchange movements.”

“As we enter the important summer season forward bookings are in line with last year and as we predicted passengers are benefiting as fares fall to reflect a more competitive operating environment and lower fuel costs.”