Overcrowding is a problem on Britain’s trains, with people rammed-on for journeys where your face is pressed into someone’s armpit and the sound of a hundred Beats headphones leaking noise that sounds like mice duelling inside a biscuit tin.
Well, double-decker trains might be the answer.
Network Rail is weighing up the double stuffed trains for a number of peak services. They’re also looking at building ‘flyovers’, so trains can bypass the busiest stations. One of the most likely solutions that is being looked at is narrower seats, so more people can be crammed into carriages.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “It’s right that as part of our plans to increase capacity we fully examine the costs and benefits of double-decker trains, alongside traditional engineering enhancements such as flyovers.”
These proposals have been set out in a number of reports from Network Rail who are looking at ways to fix the problem of increasing passenger numbers.
It is clear they don’t want to invest in more carriages on existing trains, but they’ll need to do something as passenger figures are soaring. We all know they’re going to go for the cheapest option, so expect less leg room in the coming years.
Well. Where to start here with the bombshells? A council being corrupt is up there with the exclusive of bears defecating in woods. Take your pick.
In 2013/14, councils in England made a combined profit of £667 million from their on- and off-street parking operations. This was 12% more than the 2012/13 figure of £594 million, with 44% of the 2013/14 total being generated by councils in London, the RAC Foundation survey said.
How unusual that very, very few councils are actually losing money on parking, as only 16% of the 353 parking authorities in England had negative results. Well, that’s just not good enough.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “These official figures show how town halls are committing daylight robbery by ripping off drivers with exorbitant parking charges and unfair parking fines.”
“The recent growth in fines is coming from the industrial use of CCTV spy cars allowed under laws introduced by the last government. This is why we have introduced a law before Parliament to stop these snoopers, as part of package of measures to rein in the town hall parking bullies and protect local shops.”
A politician there, tough on corruption and bullying and everything.
According to RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister: “Parking profits seem to be a one-way street for councils, having risen annually for the last five years.”
“Yet over the same period spending on local roads has fallen about a fifth in real terms. We understand the pressures councils are under with their overall income still falling and the level of services they have to provide in such areas as social care rising rapidly.”
“One sign that the escalation in parking profits might be coming to an end is that much of this year’s increase comes not from growing income from penalties and charges but cuts in the cost of parking operations.”
“This suggests local authorities are making efficiency savings and should bring some good news to both drivers and council tax-payers. The bottom line is that parking policy and charges must be about managing traffic, not raising revenue.”
Shall we gander at those councils with the biggest surplus in 2013/14 before capital charges?
LOCAL AUTHORITY SURPLUS
1. Westminster £51.03 million
2. Kensington & Chelsea £33.51 million
3. Camden £24.87 million
4. Hammersmith & Fulham £22.96 million
5. Wandsworth £19.69 million
6. Brighton & Hove £18.09 million
7. Nottingham City £12.06 million
8. Islington £10.38 million
9. Tower Hamlets £8.32 million
10. Brent £8.31 million
TfL had announced that they were planning on closing a large percentage of their ticket offices, and will turn the remainder into travel information centres.
There’s already been strikes over this issue, with over 900 staff looking at unemployment, so if you found it irritating to get help in some stations, you’re buggered now.
Imagine being off your tits at 3am when the all-night tubes start running next September, and the machine’s broken. Never mind, you can ask a… oh.
The first ticket offices to be closed will be Chigwell, Embankment, Queensway, Roding Valley, Shepherds Bush, South Wimbledon, Temple, Theydon Bois and Upminster Bridge, starting in February.
Expect about a month’s work of disruption, with some stations requiring slightly longer, however Tfl have said that Green Park and Baker Street will be disrupted for four months. Expect closures, queues and discomfort. Oh hang on, you’re probably used to that already.
TfL reckons 85% of the work will be finished by the end of next year, and the remaining 15% will be no more by April 2016 at the earliest.
Everyone agrees that the British train services are extremely good value for money, punctual and incredibly modern with carriages that are spacious and don’t at all smell like armpits and wafting urine.
So obviously, no-one is going to mind that there’s going to be some increases in ticket prices, with some season tickets breaking the £5,000-a-year mark from January 2nd. We’ve all been robbing these train companies blind haven’t we? Of course we’d be happy to pay more.
You can imagine the only people who didn’t detect the sarcasm in those opening paragraphs are the kind of dung-minded bosses who run our dismal train companies.
So, the increase for regulated fares will be up to 2.5% which means, if you catch a train from Canterbury East to London, your £4,960 season ticket will now be in advance of FIVE GRAND. It’s enough to make you think ‘sod it’ and just buy a car instead so you can at least listen to music and fart as loudly as you please on your commute.
And of course, this is only the rise for regulated fares – unregulated fares like off-peak tickets can be inflated by as much as the companies please. Will we see this extra money going toward a sparkling, new and improved service? What do you think?
Rail Delivery Group director general Michael Roberts said: “Money from fares goes towards running and maintaining the railway. This benefits not just passengers and businesses but communities across the country, by improving journeys, creating employment and helping to boost the economy.”
“Over the next five years, Network Rail is spending on average £27million a day on a better railway, alongside commitments made by train companies to improve services. That will mean more seats, better stations and improved journeys. For every £1 spent on fares, 97p goes on track, train, staff and other costs while 3p goes in profits earned by train companies for running services on Europe’s fastest growing railway.”
“The industry is continuing to work together to get more for every pound we invest to enable government to make fares decisions which work best for passengers.”
Aye, right. Thing is, if you get an anytime ticket from Manchester to London – usually in advance of £300 – you could fly to another country for cheaper. The train companies are a cesspool of villainy.
They’ve promised to invest around £140 million in the route over the next eight years, and will cough up £3.3 billion to the government for the contract.
The London to Edinburgh franchise has been publicly run since 2009.
That RMT union called the return of the franchise to the private sector “a national disgrace”, which suggests they’re not that happy.
The other bidders in the running included FirstGroup and a venture involving Eurostar and Keolis.
The Stagecoach and Virgin consortium, named Inter City Railways, said plans included 23 new services from London, and 3,100 extra seats for the morning peak time by 2020. It will also be rebranded Virgin Trains East Coast.
Martin Griffiths, chief executive of Stagecoach Group, said: “Passengers using the East Coast mainline will benefit from hundreds of millions of pounds of infrastructure investment and service improvements over the next decade. Together with Virgin, our innovative plans will give customers new services, faster and more frequent trains, and easier, more personalised journeys.”
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin added: “This is a fantastic deal for passengers and for staff on this vital route. It gives passengers more seats, more services and new trains. We are putting passengers at the heart of the service. I believe Stagecoach and Virgin will not only deliver for customers but also for the British taxpayer.”
However some people aren’t happy. Take RMT general secretary, he said the contract was “an act of utter betrayal”.
“The government has confirmed that it is bulldozing ahead with the re-privatisation of the East Coast Main Line despite all the figures showing that the current public sector operator is handing over a billion pounds back to the British people while delivering huge improvements in service and customer satisfaction.”
The government reckons it always intended to return the route to the private sector, but transport unions have been pushing for the franchise to remain in public ownership.
The price war between the apps has heated up as the festive season encroaches, and London-based app Get Taxi has just gone hardcore on their competitor’s arses with bargain pricing.
The company will charge just a fiver to travel up to six miles in London, and the app will make up the rest of the fare.
This follows Uber’s fares being reduced by almost half.
Just as an example of the dimensions of this deal, a usual fare from Get Taxi around London is £30.
UK chief executive, Remo Gerber reckons: “There’s a lot of competition over the app makers and to a certain degree you need to think of things that you can do to stand out from the crowd.”
Hailo, Kabbee, Taxibeat and Maaxi are also attempting to gain market share in the UK, which has forced some minicab firms to lower their prices to compete.
There’s an increasing amount of competition from dozens of apps, and so it’s genuinely quite cheap to cab it up in the big cities at the moment. So take advantage and get ready for a LOT of Magic FM.
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’.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.