Posts Tagged ‘trains’
He reckons that train services are far too chaotic and that commuting on them is like stepping into the Wild West. He is also very unimpressed with suburban rail operators.
Grab the popcorn, Sir Hendy is going in.
He said: “On Southeastern, the trains are like the Wild West. They are shit. Awful. And then every now and then some people who look like the Gestapo get on and fine everyone they can. It doesn’t improve your day, does it?”
He added: “People hate the suburban rail service, they hate it. If you make a mistake on your Oyster card on the Tube, we’ll refund it. On South West Trains, they’ll fine you. That’s a big philosophical difference.”
He wasn’t done by a long chalk. Sir Pete also took aim at the months of disruption that commuters have seen at London Bridge station during the work being undertaken by Network Rail, which is run by former oil honcho Mark Carne.
“I take no pleasure in saying this but Network Rail is under fire. The chief exec is a nice bloke and he has this idea about the digital railway and getting the most out of the railway in the next 30 years – but no one is listening because they can’t fix London Bridge.”
Now, in Making Loads Of Promises You’ll Not Keep But You Need To Say Something In The Lead Up To A General Election news, David Cameron has promised that, if the Tories regain control of the country, rail fares will be frozen in real terms for 5 years.
The PM reckons that by extending the Retail Price Index inflation cap on regulated ticket prices until 2020, that’ll save us lot £400. That’s if you commute by train. If you drive to work, you can whistle.
This of course, is a response to Labour’s continued attacks on the coalition about the cost of living, and that most people in the UK aren’t benefiting from the economic recovery.
Cameron says: “The cost of commuting is one of the biggest household bills that hardworking families face and it is something we are determined to bear down on. It shouldn’t just be taken for granted that people across the country who get up early and come home late, spend a large amount of the money they earn travelling to and from work.”
“Because of the difficult decisions that we have taken to repair the economy, we have been able to hold down commuter fares for the past two years.”
“If elected in May, we would freeze them in real terms for the next five.”
However, the delightfully named Mick Cash, leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, isn’t having it: “This latest stunt would still mean annual fare increases that would institutionalise the harsh reality that the British passenger pays the highest fares in Europe to travel on rammed out and unreliable trains.”
“The only solution is to end the rip off of rail privatisation which would allow us to free up the hundreds of millions of pounds drained off in profits to invest in services and cut fares.”
They think that commuters in the UK would see 10% cheaper rail fares by 2017, provided the trains were run by the public sector. In a study, they found that £1.5bn could be saved if lines were brought under public sector control.
Action for Rail chair and TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The UK has the most expensive rail fares in all of Europe.”
“If services were run by the public sector, it would make a big difference to families and hard-pressed commuters, who have suffered year after year of wage-busting fare increases under privatised rail.”
It has been reported that Transpennine, Greater Anglia, West Coast, London Midland, East Midlands, South Eastern, Wales & Borders, Great Western, South Western and Cross Country are set for contract renewals between now and 2020 and that, in shareholder dividends alone, somewhere in the region of £520m could be saved.
O’Grady added: “Money that could be spent on making journeys cheaper is instead being siphoned off into shareholders’ pockets and wasted on bidding and other franchising costs.”
You see, as usual, the train companies have decided to do a load of engineering works on the days when loads of people might actually want to use them. Naturally, that means there’s going to be huge traffic jams as well, so you might as well stay in and sulk.
So what’s going down? Well, there’ll be no Southeastern trains running to or from Charing Cross, Waterloo East or Cannon Street in That London. As well as that, there’s major works going on at Watford, which means there’ll be no Virgin or London Midland trains able to run in-and-out of Euston station between Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Virgin won’t have any trains running any further south than Milton Keynes, Rugby or Northampton and there’ll be no direct London Midland services between Euston and Hemel Hempstead, with Virgin saying that they are “strongly recommending” that passengers don’t travel between Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Trains through Manchester will also be affected as well as services in Scotland and, well, bloody everywhere. If you’re planning a journey, have a look at your routes to see which ones are going to be a pain in your backside.
The roads will be chockablock too, with traffic information givers from Inrix saying that the congestion hotspots this weekend will be in the South East and the South West of England.
If you’re travelling by road to Gatwick and Heathrow, journeys could take four times as long, so set off early if you’re going on holiday.
London has its own TfL to manage all things train-shaped in the capital, but a think tank has said that the Government should thrown £15bn at a similar transport body for the North of England in a bid to get everything ship-shape.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said this idea would only serve to help George Osborne’s vision of a “northern powerhouse” and they prodded the chancellor to include such a thing in his budget, which is happening on 18th March (so they’ve invariably left it a bit late, as he’s no doubt got the main meat of the budget sorted by now).
The IPPR would call this thing Transport for the North (TfN), although we’d prefer Tremendous Transport for the North so you could have TTFN as the acronym. This body would be responsible for rail, road, sea and air and determine what infrastructure investments should take priority and the like and could be made up of the existing Transport for the North alliance, which the government set up in 2014.
The IPPR plan also includes the need for a transport commissioner for the North, as well as a move toward a contactless, cross-boundary ticketing system.
Ed Cox, Director of IPPR North, said: “Northern transport infrastructure is dated, poorly integrated and lacking the large-scale investment it needs, but Transport for the North could be at the vanguard of a coherent economic plan that will fire up the northern powerhouse.”
“Devolving transport powers and budget to the North will help transform the region’s growth prospects and rebalance the economy.”
Remember how bad the response was, when drinking on the London Underground was banned? Well, steel yourself, because the bosses of the railways are being asked to consider a ban on drinking on all trains.
So, that’d mean old dears not being able to have a G&T while going on a day trip or someone making a long commute more bearable with a can.
Of course, you can still get on a train absolutely bladdered, which means any notion of this being a thing to stop anti-social behaviour is out of the window. It also goes without saying that you don’t have to be hammered on booze to be anti-social, either.
What’s the big idea then?
Well, this is being floated by the Rail Safety and Standards Board because they want to do something about the number of people killed on the railways because they’re drunk. In the last 5 years, 18 people were killed and 250 were seriously injured after they fell from platforms.
So you’ll assume that the rail safety lot will be banning slippery shoes and people checking their phones when they should be looking where they’re going, too? Not to mention banning passengers from frequenting any nearby pubs, especially the ones that are actually inside the train stations themselves.
This is only in consultation at the moment and you can imagine the Rail Safety and Standards lot won’t be able to justify alcohol bans because, if they do and accidents keep happening, they might have to start spending some money on making train platforms safer, rather than blaming it on alcohol.
Well, the government are looking at connectivity on trains and have announced that they’re going to free up £50 million of funding for free WiFi on the rail networks in England and Wales.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said that the Department of Transport want to make sure that WiFi is available on more services by 2017. It’ll be useful for people who work while they travel and, naturally, it’ll be good for bored people wanting to stream TV shows or listen to Spotify without hammering their data.
In addition to all this, all future bids for new franchises and direct award agreements are going to have to include provisions for WiFi infrastructure. At the moment, the DoT are looking at improvements on Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern, Southeastern, Chiltern and Arriva Trains Wales.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “Free WiFi is a priority for many as being able to keep up with work, connect with friends or even check the latest journey information online helps make rail travel more productive.”
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, looking like a penis hiding in an old sock, said: “The government is earmarking around £50 million to provide free WiFi on trains; this and our other franchising improvements mean that nearly three-quarters of rail journeys will be made on trains with wi-fi provision.”
As you’ll be aware, the chunnel was closed for most of Saturday because of a fire and then it was locked down again on Sunday because of an unrelated electrical fault. Today, there’s only one of the two tunnels open, which means more delays and headaches for passengers.
It is hoped that the Channel Tunnel will be back to full speed tomorrow, but after this weekend, no-one should hold their breath.
The amount of passengers inconvenienced over the weekend are in advance of 12,000, which is a lot of compensation needing to be paid out. On Saturday, Eurostar cancelled 26 of their services.
The cancellations were a result of a lorry which was on fire (or more accurately, it was “”smouldering”, which meant two CO2 detectors went off and everything had to be shut down. Then, once that was put out, “residue smoke” had to be cleared, meaning further delays. Then, when it looked like things were getting sorted, there was a problem with a power supply which meant more hair being torn out in frustration.
So what happens now?
Well, if you’re planning to travel on Eurostar, they’ve said that they’re planning to run a full service, albeit with delays, so you should check-in as normal, but expect to spend some time sat around and tutting.
“As Eurotunnel will not be completely operational Eurostar services may be subject to delays of up to about 30 minutes,” the company said. “If you were scheduled to travel on Saturday or Sunday and wish to change your plans and were impacted by the tunnel closure, you can exchange your ticket free of charge, within the next 60 days to travel anytime within the next 120 days, or apply for a refund.”
If you’re wanting to complain, then there are long waits on the Eurostar telephone services. You can try ringing them - 03432 186186, 9am-5pm Mon-Fri – or, if you prefer, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and include the details of what happened as well as your six-letter booking reference.
Eurostar’s website says that they have a “generous compensation policy” for passengers who have been affected by delays so if all of the above switches you off, they have an online form to help you get your money back.
And now, instead of some hold music, here’s a man being run over by a moped outside London’s St Pancras, live on the telly. Both are fine.
If you have an annual season ticket, this train costs you £4,068 and, according to reports, this particular train – the 7.29am from the Sussex coast to London Victoria – was late for every single journey last year.
If you commute on the 7.14am from Brighton to London, that service only got in on-time only once a fortnight last year. The 7.44am train got in on-time once a week. So if you’ve been using these services to get into work and your boss has called you a liar, show them this article.
Then karate chop them in the throat for not believing you.
Across the country, 65% of trains were on time, with the best performances found in Chiltern. Barely half of Southern trains were punctual, which isn’t good enough.
A spokesman for Southern said: “We acknowledge that the performance of the 7.29am Brighton to London Victoria service has been particularly disappointing. Although we’re working hard to improve its performance, its planned path is extremely tight because the network is so busy.”
Busy or not, if you’re paying over four grand for a season ticket, you’d expect the service to be on-time at least once in a year.
However, a new study has shown that English train passengers are being properly rinsed, and can save up to 60% if they buy their tickets in Wales.
It’s a bit of a trek, admittedly, to get to Wales to then try and save on a train ticket, however people in Bristol – 20 miles from Wales – are stumping up over £50 or more just to get to major cities in the North, and single peak time tickets bought in Newport or Cardiff to the same destinations are up to £58.60 cheaper.
The key example of the ludicrousness is a trip to Manchester during morning rush hour on Monday next week will cost £80.70 from Bristol Temple Meads, but a train leaving Newport just four minutes later travelling to the same destination will cost less than half the price – only £32.
Welsh train operator Arriva offers cheaper fares on journeys heading north than can be found on many journeys leaving from Bristol, while services from Cardiff to Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Blackpool also proved cheaper than travelling from Bristol, but with just minutes added to the journey.
Latest figures from the Office of Rail Regulation reveal huge disparities between the government funding for passenger journeys, varying from an average of £2.19 per journey in England to £9.33 in Wales.
These price differences are the result of the system used by nationalised operator British Rail, which was privatised during the 1990s, according to Christopher Irwin, a director of Travel Watch South West, which promotes the interest of public transport users.
Irwin said: “The history of British Rail helps us understand how fares are priced. Before the railway was privatised, lines used to be classified in three categories; intercity fares, South East fares, which covered a lot of lines to and from London, and regional railway fares.”
“Traditionally regional lines would charge less, as those journeys would contain more stops and take slightly longer. Something like Bristol to Manchester would be classed as an intercity line, whereas something leaving from Newport and travelling through Wales is likely to be a regional line and would cost less.”
Not wanting to get all electioneering, but the party that promises to re-nationalise the railways, could win by a landslide.
There is a considerable disparity between the fares on the privatised networks in the UK compared with the publicly owned railways in France, Germany and Italy.
The TUC’s and rail union’s Action for Rail (AfR) campaign has compared average earnings with monthly season tickets covering similar commuter routes across Europe, and has found the UK is charging way more than any of the other European countries.
And the average UK citizen is having to use around 17% of their monthly wage on season tickets, whereas European types such as the Germans are only spending 9%, France are spending 12% and Italians get away with just 6% of their wages on travel.
Three quarters of rail franchises in the UK are now owned by foreign state-owned or backed rail companies. High fares in the UK are in effect subsidising rail investment and lower fares in other countries.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This year’s fare hike will hit passengers particularly hard because wages are rising so slowly. Rail fares are now consuming a huge proportion of people’s wages, leaving precious little for other bread and butter expenses. On average passengers are now paying £600 more for a season ticket and yet seeing no change in their pay packets.”
“The cost to passengers of the failed privatisation of our railways cannot be ignored. We’ve ended up with slower trains and higher fares than countries who have kept their trains in public hands.”
ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan chipped in and said: “We cannot continue to damage the economic future of this country by pricing people out of travel and not competing with Europe – where they know the value of encouraging travel for work and leisure. It comes as no surprise that the bulk of our railways are now run by European operators.”
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “The scandal of Britain’s great rail fares rip off continues with today’s hike far outstripping average pay increases, and it will once again hit those at the sharp end of the austerity clampdown the hardest. After two decades of privatisation the British people pay the highest fares in Europe to travel on clapped out, understaffed and overcrowded services while the private train companies are laughing all the way to the bank. Today’s fares jump just fuels that scandal.”
“RMT says we should cut fares and not staff and public ownership would allow us to do just that.”
TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Allowing German, French and Dutch rail firms to run our rail franchises means that UK passengers pay the highest fares in Europe while at the same time keeping fares down in those countries.
“It is the economics of the madhouse. Labour should promise a one year freeze in rail fares if it wins the General Election in May.”
There are some people who believe that Labour might actually stand a chance in the General Election if they re-nationalised the railways. We’re saying nothing.
Train companies will have to start offering commuters about cheapest fares possible. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’ll be putting their prices down, but at least we’ll now know which are the least expensive.
This move is to deter customers ending up having to shell out an extra £100 when doing tickets at self-service machines.
The changes, due around March, are aimed at ending the anomaly in prices available at the counter, where staff have access to a complex database of fares, discounts and promotions, and the more limited options in a self-service machines.
Naturally some machines are nefarious and offer up the most expensive fares imaginable rather than offering a better cheaper option.
Rail minister Claire Perry reckons she is “absolutely determined that passengers should get the best possible deal for every journey”.
“There is no excuse for poor quality information, restricted ticket choice or confusing screen directions at ticket machines. However, on summit is not the end of our discussions. I will be closely monitoring progress and I will not hesitate to hold the industry to account if improvements are not made.”
Overseen by the Office of Rail Regulation, train companies will be expected to overhaul their systems to ensure that customers are automatically offered all available ticket options.
As a first step, they must label all self-service machines by March to warn passengers they could save money by using the counter service.
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.
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.