Asda and Sainsburys have a petrol war

September 30th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

petrolpump 300x200 Asda and Sainsburys have a petrol warMotorists are in luck with regards to slightly cheaper petrol, thanks to Asda and Sainsbury’s duking it out between at the pumps.

It’s a petrol WAR! No, not like the war for oil or the war on drugs. This is a lot more brutal than those.

Sainsbury’s announced it would cut petrol and diesel prices by up to 5p per litre.

Not to be outdone, Asda responded by unveiling reductions of 1p and up to 2p per litre for petrol and diesel respectively at its stores.

Apparently price cuts are likely to be larger in heavily populated areas where prices are already lower due to greater competition from the likes of Asda.

A man from the AA, who is known as Luke Bosdet, said: “The real value will be in places, often small market towns, suffering from the postcode pump price lottery – having to pay at least 3p a litre more than in neighbouring, more competitive towns. If that pulls down the price among other retailers, that will be a big benefit.”

In more heavily populated areas a 5p cut, amounting to £2.50 off the average tank of fuel, would only bring Sainsbury’s in line with cheaper rivals, he added. Although industry insiders questioned the timing of the announcement by Sainsbury’s, who are heavily tipped to unveil a dismal set of trading results later this week.

Brian Madderson, of the Petrol Retailers’ Association, said: “My initial cynical reaction is that this is an attempt to divert the press and the public away from some pretty bad news on their store sales.”

“Five pence per litre, in terms of an at-the-pump price rather than a loyalty card, is probably one of the biggest if not the biggest potential cut I have come across in the last five years so the cynic in me says there is much more to this than meets the eye.”

Grab petrol cheap anyway! Pay with your lives later!

You can use your phone on Euro flights now

September 29th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

laptop airplane travel computer 300x225 You can use your phone on Euro flights nowEuropean plane passengers can now use their smartphones and tablets on the planes! Yes, as of now there is no need to use Airplane Mode. Or talk to other people!

Now, Europeans can livetweet annoying crying children on flights and immediately share Vines where they’re mid crash!

The EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) has lifted the restriction, meaning phones can be used even during take off and landing, which was previously limited to Airplane Mode only. Amazing scenes.

In a statement, the EASA said “The new guidance allows airlines to permit personal electronic devices to stay switched on, without the need to be in airplane mode,”

“This is the latest regulatory step toward enabling the ability to offer ‘gate-to-gate’ telecommunication or Wifi services.”

Passengers won’t be allowed to use their devices fully just yet, as each airline must undergo and assessment to check that their aircraft communications will not be affected by the move.

But the EASA is hoping that the airlines will have the rules in place in the next eight months.

Vauxhall warn of wonky Corsas

September 29th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

corsa 300x192 Vauxhall warn of wonky CorsasVauxhall have put out a warning to owners of their Adams, Corsas and Corsavans, after a fault was found with the steering.

After a routine quality control assessment in their plants in Germany and Spain, the company spotted issues with some of the models registered since May.

The car company quickly issued a warning to customers – approximately 3000 of the possibly hooky models are said to have been sold – that they should not drive the cars until they have been inspected.

“Vauxhall puts the safety and convenience of its customers first and, as this condition concerns their safety, the company is taking immediate action” Vauxhall has said in \ statement.

They’ve also told owners to head to the Vauxhall website to see if their vehicle is one of the ones affected by the issues raised.

Vauxhall said: “As a precaution, these vehicles should not be driven prior to inspection. Vauxhall puts the safety and convenience of its customers first and as this condition concerns their safety, the company is taking immediate action.”

“Customers can call the Vauxhall customer assistance centre for advice on 0800 026 0034 between 9am and 5.30pm.”

Monarch staff opt for wage cut to save airline

September 25th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

monarch airlines 300x210 Monarch staff opt for wage cut to save airlineTroubled – or at least we were unaware they were troubled until now – airline Monarch, says its staff have agreed to pay cuts of up to 30% to save it while it goes through financial turbulence.

The employees apparently voted in favour of the plan, after having chats with the unions and that.

Monarch’s chief executive, Andrew Swaffield, said the vote was “a step forward” in the company’s re-organisation.

Mr Swaffield added that there were still “further hurdles to be overcome” but that the company had secured future investments from Greybull.

“This is firm progress for Monarch, its employees and for its customers,” he said.

Jim McAuslan, General Secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), reckoned that pilots had made “major sacrifices to secure the future of this important British company”.

“We welcome the announcement that Greybull are moving towards securing their position as majority shareholders in Monarch,” he said.

“It is now time for the government to engage with all of the parties concerned and do everything it can to make this deal happen and help Monarch survive and thrive.”

The company is having a bit of a reshuffle, and while 900 jobs are possibly at risk – around 30% of their workforce – it was vital for the company as it transforms itself into a low cost effort.

Night tube finally arrives in, oh, a year’s time

September 24th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

london underground tube 300x210 Night tube finally arrives in, oh, a years timeBig news London night owls. There’s finally a launch date for London’s long awaited Night Tube service!

It’s September 12 2015. Oh.

The launch coincides with the Rugby World Cup happening in That London in the same month. Quite why the powers-that-be have timed it for rugby, is a quandary future generations will puzzle at.

Trains will run through the night on Fridays and Saturdays on five lines to coincide with the tournament.

The Night Tube will run six trains per hour  through central London on the Jubilee, Victoria and Piccadilly, Central and eight trains an hour on the busiest section of the the Northern line.

It’s hoped that the 24-hour service will give a £360m boost to the economy over the next decade and almost 2000 jobs to be created.

The Night Tube will be self-funding as a projected £291m in additional fare revenue will cover the £287m operational and capital costs, according to TfL.

Novelty human Boris Johnson said: “London is a bustling, 24-hour global city and by this time next year we’ll have a 24-hour Tube service to match. Running trains all through the night was once thought impossible, but with the huge investment we’ve put in and upgrades that have been delivered we stand ready to take the Tube to the next level.”

Quite why it’s taken them so long to get around to it, when it dawned on them that it’s self-financing, is again, another mystery. Anyway. The evenings of being slightly terrified on a night bus are over! Now, you’ll be terrified in a tube deep underground instead. Amazing.

TfL goes all contactless payment

September 16th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

oyster swipe TfL goes all contactless paymentThe London Underground service goes contactless today! We can only hope it causes complete mayhem all day, so the national news can tell the rest of the country about it all, like people in Merthyr give a hoot.

Anyway, you Londoners or People Visiting London, contactless payments come into force for the London’s underground, trains and trams from this morning and commuters will now be able to pay for their trips by smartphone or a contactless-enabled bankcard.

It’s already proven a hit* (*baffled and upset tourists) on the buses, and so now the entire TfL network has followed suit.

Contactless payments are still the same prices as Oyster Cards, however TfL promise they’ll calculate a user’s costs so they don’t pay over the odds.

Each use of a contactless payment will be registered on a user’s bank statement, while journey details will be stored on their TfL account, if they register. There’s been a pilot scheme already, with 3,000 Londoners taking part. Apparently around 65,000 journeys have been taken. Not each, that would be mad.

Shashi Verma, TfL’s director of customer experience, said “Offering the option of contactless payments will make it easier and more convenient for customers to pay for their travel, freeing them of the need to top up Oyster credit and helping them get on board without delay.”

TfL have also been banging on about CARD CLASH so that commuters don’t end up paying twice when two cards are read from the same handy wallet. They’ve even been handing out nice little reminder wallets.

So anyway. Be alert. No one needs CARD CLASH. It’s not a look.

Planes: More seats – less legroom

September 12th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

fat man on airplane 300x255 Planes: More seats   less legroomWhile Ryanair have been shopping and snapping up a load of Boeing planes, it has announced that it will be able to accommodate 197 seats up from the original 189.

The airline’s purchase of the Boeing 737 MAX 200s, will be able to carry more passengers due to slimmer seats and less galley space than the current 737-800s.

Obviously, Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, reckons the extra seats would generate around €1million of additional revenue per plane per year. Oh as a bonus, he hopes it will start an old fashioned price war… “which, like all the old price wars, Ryanair will win,” the charmer bellowed.

Ryanair do say that the legroom will in fact be increased due to the seats and smaller galleys. The customers – although not fully disclosed – would have 30 inches of leg room.

However  Airbus said the MAX 200 configuration would mean the removal of three of eight galley trolleys, which would leave just five trolleys for almost 200 passengers.

This is the latest in the ongoing quest to get more passengers on to planes other than just laying them on top of each other, or sitting on laps.

The number of economy seats in Boeing 777s has gone from 15% of its 74 777s taking ten abreast (up from the original nine) in 2010, to 69% in 2012.

Even Airbus have offered up designs which show an 11-abreast seating arrangement on its A380 superjumbo efforts, which would gain 35-40 more seats.

The nutjobs also tried to offer up a design featuring just saddles, but that might have been the result of someone doing some smoking.

Air-rage is increasing as a result of the battery hen scenes on the long-haul flights, with at least three planes having to be diverted in the last month.

Shall we look at a chart showcasing who has the most legroom on their economy flights? Go on, it’ll be fun!

                                  Legroom (pitch)                Seat width

Monarch                 28 ins*                                   17 ins
Thomson                28                                            16.5-17.2
Thomas Cook       28-33                                      16.2-18.5
EasyJet                   29                                            17.5
Ryanair                  30                                            17
Aer Lingus            31-32                                       17
British Airways   31-34                                      17-18
(*with an “extra legroom” option of 32 ins for a fee)

Ryanair doing a bit better than last year

September 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Ryanair New Plane Logo 214x300 Ryanair doing a bit better than last yearRyanair reckon they’re flying six more customers per flight this year than in 2013. SIX WHOLE CUSTOMERS!

This small but obviously a good thing, is said to be down to the company’s improved customer service and ticket selling.

The airline expects load factors to increase 3-4 percentage points to ‘close to 86% of available seats this year.

So basically, translated into humans, an increase of 3-4 points on the Boeing 737s, with space for 189 people on them, would represent between 6-7 more passengers.

This news comes just after the Irish airline took delivery of the first part of 380 Boeing jets over the next ten years. That’s a big letter box that fits 380 planes through it.

This addition to the fleet should take the airline’s passengers from 82 million to 150 million a year.

Forward bookings also increased between September and January, when the airline started to sell tickets up to a year in advance instead of the previous nine months barrier.

To top that off, they’re looking to buy Cyprus Air and have completed all the paperwork required to start its first routes to Russia, with proposed flights from Dublin to Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Car sales are on the up!

September 8th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

car scrap Car sales are on the up!People are still buying cars, even more so, for the 30th month running!

The number of cars sold so far to August 2014 in the UK is now over 1.5 million. Probably because people can’t afford to catch trains and if you’re going to get rinsed for cash, you may as well do it in the  comfort of your own company.

August also saw car sales jump up 9.4%, which is unusual for a traditionally quiet month, seeing 72,163 cars being registered, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Also, it’s unusual as its September, when it all gets busy as cars sell when there’s the new number plate season and buyers want to look really ahead and attractive.

2014 sales are also 10.1% above the same period last year. The UK are ahead of the rest of Europe as far as growth in car sales are concerned.

It can’t last, apparently, as the SMMT reckon it will cool off in the next few months.

traintrack 300x225 Rail fares are still going up   the North gets hammeredRail fares are going up by 2.5% in January and waxy old George Osborne has capped the ticket prices for the second year running, so it’s slightly better news than the feared 3.5% – 5.5% increases.

He also announced that he was scrapping the ‘flex’ system where train companies could cheekily raise some fares by up to 2% above the permitted average.

It will cost the Government £100 million though, so they’ll claw that back from you elsewhere no doubt.

As if pre-programmed, Mr Osborne trotted out his: “Support for hard-working taxpayers is at the heart of our long-term economic plan.”

“It’s only because we’ve taken difficult decisions on the public finances that we can afford to help families further.”

However, rail passengers in the north of England are not going to be feeling very supported for their hard work and tax payments, as new rules mean that passengers in Greater Manchester and parts of Yorkshire won’t be able to buy off-peak return tickets for travel between 4pm and 6.30pm. That basically means that, because they’ll be buying ‘peak’ or ‘anytime’ tickets, it’ll cost them 40-50% more than off-peak fares.

So, if you’re catching a train from Rochdale to Wigan, it’ll now cost you £11 when it would’ve cost you £4.20.

Martin Abrams of the Campaign for Better Transport isn’t happy: “The DfT’s extension of peak fares on Northern is part of an incoherent strategy to make existing passengers pay more for outdated services instead of investing in better quality rail for the future across the region.”

GM to install eye-tracking technology

September 3rd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

 GM to install eye tracking technologyTechnology is all over cars at the moment, as the latest device involves tracking your eyeballs.

This tech will watch you so it can determine how drivers are behaving on the road, tracking your eyes and every move, making sure that you’re giving the road its full attention.

General Motors will install around half a million cars with eye-tracking devices over the next three to five years.

They’re apparently using technology made by Seeing Machines, a Canberra-based company who specialises in driver fatigue technology.

The cameras will be backed by algorithms, which tracks movement in the driver’s face and will then use this data to analyse what the driver is looking at.

If the driver isn’t paying attention to the road for more than 30 seconds, the device emits a laser at them and kills them dead.

As well as safety, the technology could allow drivers to communicate with their cars, without having to press a button or turn the wheel. It’s all a bit Gary Numan.

There are privacy issues arising from this new development, such as what insurers and manufacturers may do with it. However Seeing Machines reckon that ‘initially’ it will not keep the info it records.

In other words, it will and we’re all going to Hell. And the car will probably lock us in and drive us there itself.

Volvo tinker with their logo

September 1st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Volvo have had a fiddle with their logo.

The new updated ‘ironmark’ logo, which has been in use since 1927, is based on the chemical symbol for iron, has been lightly updated by Stockholm Design Lab.

VolvoNew Volvo tinker with their logo

It handily coincides with the launch of its new XC90 vehicle.

Stockholm Design Lab said: “The symbol has been simplified in its purest form and conveys the vision to be the world’s most progressive and desirable premium car brand.”

Which, obviously, they would. They charged an amazing amount of money for the privilege too.

Whereas Volvo chip in with: “The new XC90 will be the first of our cars to carry the company’s new more prominent iron mark, which has the iconic arrow elegantly aligned with the diagonal slash across the grille.”

“Together with the T-shaped ‘Thor’s Hammer’ DRL lights, the iron mark introduces an entirely new, distinctive and confident face for Volvo’s forthcoming generation of cars.”

Still nothing you’d steal off the front though, eh elderly Beastie Boys fans?

Ryanair mean business

August 28th, 2014 5 Comments By Ian Wade

Picture 1 Ryanair mean businessRyanair. You know them, the rascals. Well they’re launching a business service.

Stop laughing.

In a bid to try and elevate their image and come across as a bit nicer, they’ve launched the business service in a bid to please the customer’s need for better treatment.

Their “business plus” fares offer customers flexible tickets, more check-in baggage, priority boarding and “premium” seats – in the first five rows for quick boarding, or on exit rows with extra leg-room.

They reckon that business passengers already make up more than a quarter of its customers and that the new fares, starting at £59.99, were designed to get more of them. The rest of you can whistle while you get herded up.

Ryanair have admitted that they’ve been a bit slack, and generally annoying humanity in general and have since been getting their act together.

They’ve introduced allocated seating, relaxed cabin bag restrictions, reduced charges, and loosened booking conditions.

Chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, says that the new tickets would not see larger seats or extra facilities, bar perhaps USB chargers on new planes: ”We won’t be introducing a blue curtain. Customers haven’t asked us for the high business fares and facilities, they just want a bit of flexibility and a better schedule. The schedule is very oriented around business travellers: places like Madrid, Milan and Barcelona have three times daily returns, so they can travel there that morning and come back the same day.”

The company has announced that it will be going to more city-centre airports too, including new routes from Stansted to Cologne, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

[insert joke about new routes from places NEAR Cologne, Glasgow etc]

Buses: they’ve let us all down

August 27th, 2014 7 Comments By Ian Wade

47861821 nbfl no 08 broadgate 140510 300x167 Buses: theyve let us all downAccording to a think tank, it isn’t a great life on the buses as passengers have been continually let down by a lack of competition and a failure of deregulation.

Despite being privatised back in 1986, buses outside of London were deregulated, but those inside of the London remained subject to regulation. According to the IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) report, it claimed that Transport for London’s regulation had been a success, elsewhere the whole thing had been a bit of a failure.

One in eight of working Brits relied on getting the bus into work, and also that people made three times the trips on the bus than the train, which worked out over five billion a year.

It also pointed out that the poorest used the bus more, but that fares outside of London had risen by more than 35% above inflation between 1995 and 2013.

The report also recommended the creation of local transport bodies modelled on TfL .

IPPR associate director Will Straw said: “London has the best buses in Britain and that’s no accident. TfL has been a great success while the deregulation of buses outside London has largely failed.”

“Outside London, bus passenger journeys are down and fares are rising higher than inflation. Examples of successful bus markets outside London are all too rare so local transport bodies should be given greater powers to hold uncompetitive providers to account.”

“As well as regulating bus services, routes and fares, these new bodies should have a wider role of encouraging better integration between buses and other modes of transport including rail.”

“This will help increase the number of passengers using public transport. Responsibility for transport related to schools and hospitals should be devolved to these regional transport bodies with any savings made from achieving efficiencies retained and reinvested in other local sustainable transport projects.”

He goes on a bit, but you get the gist.

We all know catching the bus is a nightmare (as night follows day), but what can be done to fix the situation? And no, dear readers, killing annoying or smelly people isn’t a viable solution.

Do YOU know about the tax disc changes?

August 26th, 2014 8 Comments By Ian Wade

Windscreen decoration news now, and did YOU know that tax discs are set to be abolished on October 1? We spoke about it all the way back in 2012, but according to a survey on money.co.uk, only half of drivers questioned were aware of the changes.

You will still have to pay your vehicle tax, but now police cameras will be automatically check number plates and robots will establish if the tax has been paid.

The tax disc has spent 93 years on vehicle’s windscreens – well, in six or 12 months bursts anyway. Not the same one handed down.

Motorists will need to be aware of impending tax disc changes or face a £1,000 fine as well as potential penalty charges against a car they no longer own.

“Helpfully”, the DVLA has yet to start adding warnings to tax renewal reminders, but THEY’VE MADE A FILM!

Dear God.

The new rules will demand used car sellers to inform the DVLA of the change of ownership. HPI provider, hpicheck.com, has warned those caught unaware could face fines and charges.

Meanwhile for used car buyers, the vehicle tax will no longer be transferred while those selling can claw back unused tax.

So yes, get aware.