train Network Rail hammered for dreadful punctuality recordYou’ll never guess what – trains are quite often late. Once you’ve composed yourself over that shock news, Network Rail have been slammed over their woeful performance figures.

Richard Price, head of the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), told Network Rail’s chief executive, Mark Carne, that the company (who happen to manage and maintain 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and 19 major stations) has to improve and that Network Rail are desperately failing passengers.

In a meeting, which occurred before the release of an ORR report on Network Rail’s performance during the first six months of a £38bn five-year investment plan, it was shown that they’d missed their punctuality target, to the tune of 50,000 more trains running significantly late than expected.

In addition to that, Network Rail are forecast to be £112m over budget this year and thanks to generally being lousy, the company are reacting to problems on the network instead of anticipating them and fixing them before they become a bigger problem.

So, in short, passengers are paying for 60% of the cost of running and maintaining the network through tickets sales and absolutely not getting their money’s worth.

With that, there’s a strong possibility for fines being thrown at Network Rail. Of course, they’ve already been heavily penalised in the past for missing a host of targets.

Richard Price said: “I do not think that Network Rail is performing close to its potential, but the new management does recognise this. We’re now watching Network Rail in much greater detail and getting much more data from them.” Price added that, with Network Rail now a public sector body, they’re no longer able to work with the freedom they had as an independent body, so now the “chickens have come home to roost” as a result of years of under-investment in Britain’s rail infrastructure.

Carne said: “The railway continues to see strong growth in passenger numbers. However, we know that there are too many passengers that do not get the level of reliability they have a right to expect.”

This morning, Great Anglia Rail reported delays on one of their services. Always annoying when one of your trains is held-up, but this one piqued the interest.

The delay was because of ‘an unusually large passenger’.

B237fqtIAAASIeV 500x375 Great Anglia Rail delay, thanks to ‘an unusually large passenger’

Spotted by Amy Gray on Twitter, commuters must’ve wondered what in the blazes was going on. It’s one thing being so large you hold a train up, but this passenger was such a behemoth that they were holding up TWO services!

Naturally, the truth of the matter is quite tedious. The word ‘flow’ was cut off the end of the message.

Cars getting too big for car parks

November 20th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

car parking 225x300 Cars getting too big for car parksCars are getting bigger and car parking spaces are getting smaller, according to a new report.

A rise in minor accidents and the like is costing UK drivers around £750 million a year in repairs and, apparently there’s more than 500,000 collisions per year – working out at approximately 1,373 per day.

The Accident Exchange report revealed that car park incidents are second to rear-end shunts as the most common car mishap, costing motorists an average of £1,428 each time to repair.

The report says there were an estimated 2.2million accidents on UK roads in 2011 of which ‘general car park incidents’ represented nearly a quarter (22.78%) of the total.

A spokey for Accident Exchange said: “Most parking incidents take place at slow speeds but that does not stop motorists damaging doors, wheels, bumpers and other parts of the bodywork.”

“A possible contributing factor is that today’s larger vehicles are now squeezing into smaller parking spaces.”

The findings that emerged from their survey of car parks was very illuminating, discovering that the average car park space is an eye-opening  7ft 9.5 inches (237.5cm.) However, the average car has grown in size over the years, and even the smallest models of yore have at least another foot added to their size.

Yet due to the pesky Transport Department, parking space sizes have remained the same since 1994

It’s no joy for the drivers either, they’re getting taller and fatter and are causing themselves pain trying to get out of tight spaces. Well, it needn’t be painful if you know how to work it.

Liz Fisher of Accident Exchange said: “Looking at the statistics, you’d think there is chaos in car parks up and down the country and that drivers are literally battling for spaces to park. But the fact is that drivers are having to squeeze their larger cars into smaller spaces and there are many more car journeys made than just a decade ago.”

Car parks being a load of rubbish – who would’ve ever thunk it?

Easyjet see increase in profits and customers

November 18th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

easyjet 300x170 Easyjet see increase in profits and customersEasyjet have announced a 21.5% rise in their annual pre-tax profits.

The company’s profits rose to £581m for the 12 months up to September 2014, which is up from £478m the previous year.

This is said to be down to increased passenger numbers, with a 7% rise on them reported, taking the total to 64.8 million people ferried about.

According to chief executive Carolyn McCall, EasyJet had “opened up clear blue sky” between the airline and its competitors. When chief execs say things like that, you just want to kick them up the arse forever, don’t you?

The budget no frills airline has a fleet of 226 planes, and said that acquiring some slots at Gatwick from their arch rival Flybe had helped them considerably.

Also, the amount of available seats on Easyjet flights grew by 5.1% to 71.5 million, of which almost 91% were filled.

Easyjet are also seeing customers returning to them, not put off by being cheap and cheery, and 57% of customers are rebooking each year. ”When people sample us, when they try us for the first time, they tend not to go back to legacy airlines,” McCall told the BBC.

A new loyalty card scheme – which had be trialled on 15,000 passengers – had proven quite popular, as it cut out some of the additional faff and made it easier for regular fliers to come back and forth. It’s all reasonably rosy, although they have warned that costs-per-seat may increase due to rising airport, navigation and maintenance charges.

On the other hand, the airline also said an expected fall in fuel prices could drive costs down by as much as £22m over the next six months.

Workers want holidays not pay rises

November 18th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

beach 300x187 Workers want holidays not pay risesOne in three of workers would rather have more holiday than a pay rise, according to a new report.

61% of them also believe, that if a company were to promise them more time off, they’d consider switching to them.

The survey by Expedia of nearly 8,000 people across 24 countries, also saw that Europeans enjoyed more holiday time than those in the Asia Pacific region and North America.

At present, the highest number of days offered to staff is 30 in Denmark, France, Germany and Spain, 28 in Italy, and 26 in Britain.

Down the other end of the scale, holiday allowance totalled 15 days in the US and Mexico, and just 11 in Thailand.

Also, Britain makes sure it takes as much of its holiday as it can, with the average Briton using 25 of their 26 days allocation, compared to Italians who only use up 21 days of their 28, and South Korea took only seven of 15 available days in the past year.

Expedia’s Andy Washington said: “While habits differ, the emotional impact of holiday does not.”

“Somewhere between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of people worldwide say that holidays make them feel happier, better rested, closer to their family, less stressed and more relaxed.”

So would you rather have more time off, rather than more money?

Free stuff with the Morrisons PudPod!

November 17th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

pudpod hero 258x300 Free stuff with the Morrisons PudPod!There’s nothing jollier than a van done up as a massive Christmas pudding handing out treats is there? Well, there’s about 5,000,000 things more jolly.

Either way, Morrisons are sending a massive pudding on the road!

The supermarket is taking the Pud Pod – or, inevitably #pudpod – on to the road to call at 32 locations around the UK ahead of Christmas. ['The Pudmobile' would've been better - Ed.]

The mobile pudding will also be handing out vouchers and free food as part of its ‘Make Christmas Special’ campaign this season.

Shoppers that visit the #pudpod will get £5 off a Christmas shop at Morrisons and will also get free samples from the Christmas range, including mince pies, panettone, roast turkey and pigs in blankets (bacon wrapped sausages, not actual porcines in a picnic rug).

If you want to follow the #pudpod, and if you have a largish Morrisons in your manor, then it’s likely you get a visit. Gander over here for further details.

We hope that we see it hijacked and entering into a high speed chase a la OJ Simpson, for a truly wonderful festive shoot-out that sees Morrisons being the unwitting star of 24 rolling death news.

Smoking to be banned in your car

November 10th, 2014 24 Comments By Mof Gimmers

cigarette Smoking to be banned in your carNext month, you won’t be allowed to smoke in your own car if you have children riding with you. If you do, you’ll be fined £60 or you’ll have five points added onto your driving licence.

So, if you’re a driver who is considered to be failing to take ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent others smoking in cars with children, you can face a fine up to £10,000. Just imagine how many cartons of cigarettes you could buy with £10,000.

The law applies to any cars carrying children and, in addition to this, a proper ban will come into place in December, being implemented proper in October 2015.

Obviously, smokers are going to have to start putting their children on the roof rack if they want to get stuck into some Benson & Hedges.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The time has come,” for a ban, like some ominous overlord.

This change in law will be made under provisions in the Children and Famlies Act. Legally speaking, a child is anyone up to the age of 18, but of course, 16 year olds can toot bifters as well, so that’ll be a fun game for those enforcing the law.

Anyway, there you have it. No more smoking next to your children while you’re driving. What do you make of that? Do you feel like people who smoke around children are arses, so sod ‘em? Or, is it the principle of the matter, with the government telling you what to do in the privacy of your own vehicle, that ticks you off?

Get around London town for nuffink

November 10th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

oyster swipe Get around London town for nuffink Fancy a couple of days of free travel around London? OF COURSE YOU DO, YOU NUT JOB.

Basically, London Transport are doing a couple of free days – Friday 14 & 28 November – which is on offer to those who pay with contactless or MasterCard.

You’ll need to register first, obviously. That’s what sensible people do.

The ins and outs are:

- Your card will be charged and then refunded within 28 days
- There’s a maximum refund of £21.80 a day, which is the price of daily peak cap zones 1-9 plus Watford Junction
- It’ll work on the tube, buses, DLR, Overground, tram and most national rail services (normal contactless coverage)

So again, you will need to register your card before midnight on the 14th and 28th November or it will mean nothing and you’ll be that complete mug paying for travel while everyone else lords it up for free.

Click here to find out more.

Oyster customers being fleeced

November 7th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

oyster swipe Oyster customers being fleecedOyster Pay As You Go (PAYG) customers are being charged up to £107 more per week, than people using Contactless payment for travel in London, according to research.

Passengers who use Oyster PAYG and Contactless are doing the same journeys, however Contactless fares are capped weekly, whereas Oysters are capped daily meaning that passengers are paying far more.

According to a Labour press release: “A peak-time commuter who hits the daily cap travelling between zones 4 and 7 for example would pay £19.60 a day using Oyster. On Contactless this would only cost £29.40 for a whole week meaning savings of £107.80 over Oyster if they were to hit the daily cap for a whole week. For those only commuting Monday to Friday, the saving on Contactless would still be £68.60.”

“A zone 1-6 commuter who hits the peak-time daily cap would save £53.40 per week by switching from Oyster to Contactless.”

TfL’s guide to fares says the daily peak Oyster fare is capped at £19.60, yet if you travel at the weekend it’s capped at £11.60. Basically making a weekly cost of £121.20.

The weekly Contactless fare is £29.40, which may not quite be the £107 that Labour are banging on about, but still a significant saving.

However, it all depends on where you’re at London-wise, as a weekly Zone 1-3 travelcard is £36.80, whereas Contactless doing the same would work out as £42.40.

It’s a wonder anyone manages to live in London at all.

finger airline Flights delayed or cancelled? Things are looking up!Chances are, you’ve had a delayed flight at some point or, worse still, a flight that has been cancelled altogether.

Well, things are about to change on that front. No, delayed and cancelled flights aren’t going to become a thing of the past, but rather, your rights surrounding them. There’s been two Supreme Court decisions against Thomson and Jet2, which means we’ll all have improved rights when it comes to getting compensation.

The Supreme Court ruled on two cases relating to the European Denied Boarding Regulation, which sounds boring, but that’s the thing that sorts your right to compensation if your flight gets cancelled or if it is delayed, and with that, the airlines might get their arses in gear and start running a better service for everyone.

In the case ‘Dawson v Thomson’, Thomson denied owing a certain Mr Dawson (no, not that one) compensation because he had waited more than two years after his flight to make a claim. The airline argued that consumers have a two-year window if they want to claim compensation, however, Mr Dawson pointed out that the law gives six years for claims. The Court of Appeal agreed and Thomson don’t have the right to appeal.

The other case – ‘Huzar v Jet2- Mr Huzar’s flight had been delayed thanks to a technical fault with the aircraft. The law says that airlines don’t have to pay compensation if a delay is caused by “extraordinary circumstances”. You’d think that technical problems were a fairly regular occurrence, but Jet2 claimed that technical difficulties constitute “extraordinary circumstances”. That means they don’t have to pay compo to passengers. However, the Court of Appeal disagreed and denied Jet2 the right to appeal.

So now, the law says that travellers have six years to flex their rights in a bid to claim for compensation for a cancellation or delay and there’s not much the airlines can do about it. They might weasel their way out of it somehow, but for now, it is 2-0 to the consumer.

That said, if you’ve but a claim in for some reimbursement, it now might go through, albeit delayed thanks to the airlines now having something of a large backlog of complaints. If you are getting close to six years, then you can send your complaints to the Civil Aviation Authority or the small claims court.

Go get ‘em.

Looks like the whole of England is going Oyster mad

November 3rd, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

oyster swipe Looks like the whole of England is going Oyster madBus companies have been looking at London’s Oyster system rather enviously and it looks like the whole of England wants to try it out.

Initially, we’re looking at the largest urban areas in the country who will be getting a similar service, and of course, some places already have their own versions.

Greater Manchester passengers will be the first to get the new format, rolled out in 2015. Presumably, it’ll be an extension of the ‘Get Me There’ card which already exists in Manchester, enabling people to get on the trams.

In the West Midlands, a number of public transport operators are already part of the Swift scheme.

These swipey payment cards are going to be implemented in Tyne and Wear, Merseyside, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire too. Nottingham, Leicester and Bristol might be having them as well. Everyone wants to go cashless.

So, if you catch a bus that is owned by Arriva, Stagecoach, First, Go Ahead and National Express, chances are that, soon enough, offering actually money to a driver will be no use to anyone.

In a joint statement, the chief executives of the companies involved said the move would deliver a “wider benefit than the capital’s Oyster system”, adding: ”Millions of people in our biggest city regions will benefit from this transformational initiative to provide London-style smart ticketing. Bus operators share the aspirations of our city regions to become growing economic powerhouses and we know high quality public transport is an important part of making that happen.”

Sadly, these cards can’t do a thing about crazy, ranting bus drivers.

heist honda 300x184 Commercial Break: Brilliant Honda ad shows you the other side Honda Civic have unveiled a quite ingenious advert for their new R Heist.

It’s basically two films going at the same time, with the same protagonist, but each has an opposite mood.

What you do is to press ‘R’ and you’ll see the other side.

Go on. TRY IT.

The Other Side seems to show that Honda are up for both families and edgy murderous types being associated with their new motor.

According to Honda Motor Europe’s Head of Marketing, Martin Moll: “This campaign marks a very significant time for our brand. The Civic Type R is one of four new car launches for Honda in 2015 and provides a powerful halo-effect for the marque. Just as our products are renowned for being innovative, our communications style will amplify this.”

Not entirely sure about the ‘powerful halo-effect for the marque’ bit, but can only assume at least he knows what he’s on about.

Ryanair: doing quite well since becoming nice

November 3rd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

ryanairvsign Ryanair: doing quite well since becoming niceCharm-filled budget airline Ryanair has hiked its profit forecast on better than expected winter bookings and furthermore, they’ve also said they’ll cut fares by 10% in Spring to ooomph up their share of the Europe short haul market.

The company also claims that they will carry 2.2 million passengers more than they’d previously forecast, in the six months up March.

Profits after tax for the first six months of the financial year were €795m, which stood at €750m last year.

Obviously, this turnaround is something to do with Ryanair getting their act together in the last year or so, trying to shake off their reputation as an unpleasant budget headache affair run by a complete and unswerving asshat, improving customer service and all that jive.

You can make more money if you don’t treat people dreadfully, which is hardly stop press we know, but true. Complaints to Ryanair were down 40% and O’Leary said many of those were about the landing bugle, which they’ve now got rid of.

Ryaniar are far from perfect, but if they’re starting to make a pretty penny from playing nicely, rather than hooting hardball, then we can only hope other problematic companies take a leaf from their book.

traintrack 300x225 Train ticket machines might save you time, but they cost you money…We’ve all done it- looked at the long queue full of idiots who’ve seemingly never caught a train before and decided to buy our train ticket from the helpful ticket machine standing idly by. After all, modern technology is here to improve our lives, right? Unfortunately, that might not necessarily be true. And almost certainly isn’t going to save you money.

An investigation by the Telegraph has found that actually, using a ticket machine could end up costing you hundreds of pounds more than asking at the ticket office- while railway clerks are required by law to offer the cheapest tickets, regardless of which company they work for- ticket machines are under no such obligation and, not only don’t offer the cheapest fares, they also hide cheaper fares where no one will ever find them. And sometimes, it can simply depend on which particular machine you use when there are a choice in larger stations.

For example, if you wanted to travel from Leeds to Birmingham, if you used Northern Rail’s ticket machine, a First-Class Anytime Return to Birmingham is sold at £271. However, if you slid a few feet to the right and used the East Coast trains machine, you could get the same journey using a First-Class Off-peak Return for £145.70. This type of ticket is not available for customers using Northern Rail’s machines, but saves £125.30.

Similarly East Coast machines at King’s Cross offered a ticket from London Euston to Liverpool on a First-Class Anytime Single fare for £229.50 but a Thameslink & Great Northern machine sells a London Midland-only First-Class Anytime Single for £94, saving £135.50.

Other tips and tricks available at the ticket office, but not at machines include split ticketing (where buying three tickets instead of one to cover the journey from Carlisle to Manchester could save passengers up to £50), and group discounts such as a £45.20 saving for four adults travelling London to Dover. And you can always ask a ticket officer about the possibility of ‘stopping short’ a strange quirk in a complicated ticketing system which can mean it is cheaper to buy a ticket for a longer train journey than you intend to travel, and just get off the train early.

Mike Hewitson, head of policy at the rail watchdog Passenger Focus, said travellers wanted information to be given to them in a clear and simple way. “Our research shows us that ticket machines still aren’t particularly user-friendly,” he said. “Passengers should be able to use ticket machines and be confident in what they are offered, without needing to be ‘experts’ in the system.”

Campaign group Railfuture said that passengers were being forced to “jump through hoops” to get a reasonable fare. Spokesperson Bruce Williamson said it was “clearly wrong” that the cheapest fares were sometimes “buried” behind a number of option menus while the more expensive ones were promoted on the main default screens.“Cheaper options have to be readily obvious and easy to find, not hidden from customers,” he stated, firmly.

East Coast said it was not aware that the cheaper London Midland-routed fares were missing from its machines at King’s Cross and said this had now been changed. Northern Rail said it was working with its suppliers to ensure all necessary data were fed into its ticket machines to offer the best value fares to customers.

plane 300x225 Fly on a Tuesday evening if you want cheap air faresWe all want cheaper flights, and there’s nothing more annoying than booking a flight only to find it would have been significantly cheaper if we had only done something slightly differently, or booked slightly earlier/later. Now, new analysis of billions of flights has come up with a magic formula for getting the cheapest airfares- by telling you when to book and when to travel.

According to new global travel statistics from momondo, the most money can be saved by booking flights at least 53 days in advance of  departure, when you can save 29% on flight costs on average. And if you leave it late, the most expensive tickets are sold three days before departure.

But while early booking as a cost-saving tool is not necessarily news, nor unexpected, momondo have also calculated the cheapest day and time to fly by analysing 7.5 billion airfares worldwide.

Apparently, the cheapest departure fares are typically found on a Tuesday and the most expensive on a Friday or Saturday. After all, who wants to fly anywhere on a Tuesday? The time of the day is also important, as the figures showed it is normally cheaper to fly in the evening, between the hours of 6pm and midnight.

Lasse Skole Hansen, momondo’s spokesperson states: “We would always advise travellers to remember these golden rules, to bag the cheapest ticket. In general, it pays to book flights two months in advance. We found these trends consistent across the board, so bargain hunters should consider flying at night and on a Tuesday, if they want to save money on their travels.”

However, we would always recommend using a flight comparison tool to make sure you get the best deal. Sites like skyscanner have been around for ages and allow you to compare flexible dates and similar airports to find the cheapest deals. Kayak is another similar site that allows you to find cheap flights, but then predicts whether it might be better to wait a few days before booking, as the price may fall, or whether you should buy now before the price goes up.