Posts Tagged ‘trains’
A new scheme has been announced, to relieve us all of the near constant gloom regarding our trains. If your train is delayed by a couple of minutes, you will automatically be refunded, electronically.
This is an attempt to stop the rigmarole of getting refunds, and now, it is hoped you’ll get cash put straight into your account or onto your travel card. Of course, this will be a pilot scheme first, but it is an important step as it has been reported that passengers miss out on around £100m in compensation each year.
Railway minister Claire Perry, trying to distract everyone from the fact that train fares will be going up in January, said about the new refund scheme: “They can do it because of smart ticketing technology that they are rolling out - I want that to be rolled out right across the rail industry. I want passengers to not have to go through hoops to get compensation.”
The scheme is being tested on C2C services between London and Essex and will start next year.
With 9 out of 10 train passengers saying that they can’t be bothered claiming for compensation, because it is such a faff, this is encouraging news indeed.
Provided of course, the powers that be don’t balls it up.
We all know that our train services are run badly and are expensive, so the news that rail fares have shot up three times faster than our wages have over the past five years, should come as no surprise.
New analysis shows that regulated fare prices went up by 25% between 2010 and 2015, while the average take home pay only went up by 9% in that same time. This is according to the TUC who have been crunching some numbers.
Rail minister Claire Perry says that the government has plans that would see an end to ”inflation-busting fare increases”, and the powers that be have already said that regulated train fares (in England only) will rise by no more than inflation. Perry added: “Next year’s fares will see some of the lowest increases for decades.”
Hands up if you’ll only believe that when you see it.
The unions aren’t having it, and they think that returning the railways to the public sector would see a reduction in train ticket prices. TUC secretary Frances O’Grady said too many people commuting on trains are “seriously out of pocket” thanks to price hikes: “If ministers really want to help hard-pressed commuters they need to return services to the public sector. It would allow much bigger savings to be passed onto passengers”.
Just how much do they think will be saved? Well, the TUC and rail union campaign ‘Action For Rail’ thinks that putting the trains into public ownership would see £1.5bn saved over the next five years. A lot of the money would be saved after being recouped from the money private train firms pay in dividends to shareholders.
The transport charity Campaign for Better Transport have conducted a separate report and found that, again unsurprisingly, the UK if way behind the rest of Europe when it comes to flexible train tickets.
At the moment, season ticket holders in Britain only actually save money if they use their tickets for five out of seven days. People with part-time jobs are getting done over.
“The UK government and train operators are dragging their feet, meaning many part-time workers are being priced off the railway,” said campaigner Martin Abrams.
Last-minute talks to avert a 48-hour rail strike on First Great Western services have failed, according to the RMT union. That means, services between London, the west of England and Wales will be affected, as of teatime last night.
Below, you can see a map of all the lines which fall under this area. Click on the map to enlarge.
Red lines are not expected to operate. Black lines have a limited peak service. Yellow lines have a reduced service. Green lines are normal.
Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: ”The company still feel that the configuration of the new super express trains is out of their control and that it would be in their best interests to have ‘driver-only’ operations and to remove the buffet cars.”
“That position is totally unacceptable and the union is clear that the design of the new fleet of trains is a matter for First Group and that there is still time to modify the rolling stock,” he said. Last week’s ballot saw 80% of workers supporting strike action.
A FGW spokesman said: “Progress has been made, sadly not enough progress for the RMT to be able to cancel their strike at short notice.”
First Great Western - “Time restrictions on tickets have been lifted from now until the end of service today. Passengers can use tickets for any time train.”
Figures released by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) show that commuters feel that it is pretty futile complaining about train operators. The report shows that, despite having the most cancellations and late-running services, Southern received a fraction of the average complaints that Virgin got.
Virgin received around 24 times more complaints per passenger journey than Southern, with the pair being the most complained about. It seems that this is a particular problem in London, with the five operators getting the fewest complaints, despite the performance of the services suggesting otherwise.
David Sidebottom, passenger director of Transport Focus, said: “The weary commuter doesn’t complain any more, sadly, because the train is perpetually delayed or you can’t ever get a seat, and has given up on the system.”
Sidebottom added that longer-distance operators tend to pick up more complaints, thanks to the nature of the travel: “The impact and value of that particular journey is of a different magnitude; but the long-distance operators encourage people to complain when things go wrong – it’s what a good business does. It builds up trust. They don’t want disgruntled customers.”
“With commuter trains, these are harder things to work out and to get sorted, but you end up with the kind of things we’re seeing in the south-east at the moment. We do want commuter train operators to do more.”
First Great Western has confirmed that they expects to run the majority of London Thames Valley services, however, long distance and local rail services will be significantly reduced, if the strike action goes ahead next week.
There’s still some meetings to be had, which could stop the strike, but talks might break down. Thanks to an overtime ban on Saturday 11 July, this could mean late notice changes or possible cancellations. It’d be worth keeping up to date with everything over at firstgreatwestern.co.uk/travelupdates for all journeys you’re planning to make.
If you have tickets for the dates affected, you can chose to travel on either Wednesday 8 July or Saturday 11 July. Full refunds will be available for those of you who decide to not travel. There’ll also be compensation for Season Ticket holders for the days affected. Seat reservations, sadly, will not be honoured.
First Great Western Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: ”We are pleased that we have been able to identify a number of routes and services where we can continue to offer a service. This is limited and in some areas services are significantly impacted. However we recommend customers check the website for full details next week as they may find that travel by train is unaffected.”
“This is not true in every case and we recognise that for many of our customers the RMT’s decision to ask their members to strike will cause considerable inconvenience.”
“This industrial action is about the new trains we are bringing into operation, the largest fleet upgrade on the Great Western for a generation, which will shave journey times by as much as 17 minutes, and provide the extra seating capacity we know our customers want to see. In order to be able to do this we need to operate these trains differently to the way we operate our current 40 year-old High Speed Trains. The best way to make the most of these new trains, in an efficient and safe way, is by the use of driver operation of the doors.”
“41% of RMT members who work for us voted in favour of this action and we are disappointed that our assurances over job security; the need for more, not fewer staff; and our commitment to maintaining existing pay and conditions for affected staff have not been heard.”
“All of the issues raised by the RMT have been discussed with representatives and we believe we have made some progress. We are continuing to meet and I very much hope that the RMT will not go ahead with the strike.”
This is a result of strike action from French ferry workers, and both Eurostar and Shuttle services have been stopped for the foreseeable after demonstrators caused a fire on the tracks at Calais.
Industrial action has caused all kinds of trouble and travel chaos on both sides of the Channel last week, after people decided to protest, worried about their jobs.
You may have also seen the area in the news, after migrants tried to stow away on lorries that were stuck in queues on the French side of the Channel Tunnel.
Eurostar, who run the trains from St Pancras to France and Belgium, issued a service update saying: “Eurotunnel has been closed following a fire caused by MyFerryLink demonstrators outside the tunnel.”
“Delays to Eurostar services are likely, more information to follow.”
The strike action in Calais has led to the closure of the port and suspension of ferry sailings from Dover also. All services between the Port of Dover and Calais are affected.
Of course, many trains will lack ventilation and air conditioning, but there’s more. Network Rail has imposed speed restrictions on some services, and in addition to that, they’re advising that everyone checks their journeys before travelling.
A First Great Western spokesperson said: “Network Rail has advised that, due to the anticipated exceptionally hot weather, there will be speed restrictions to protect track points in the Thames Valley region on Tuesday 30 June 2015.”
“As a result there will be no fast trains between London Paddington and Bourne End or Henley-on-Thames from 12pm until 8pm. Trains from London Paddington will terminate at Twyford for a connection with a branch line train to Henley-on-Thames, which will remain on the branch line.”
“Trains from London Paddington will terminate at Maidenhead for a connection with a branch line train to Bourne End, which will remain on the branch line.”
So what’s going on? Why does a bit of sunshine cock things up? The spokesperson continued: “As rails are made out of steel, they expand as they heat up and are subject to strong compression. This expansion has to be managed to reduce the risk of track buckling.”
“If the track does buckle, the line must be closed and the track repaired before services can resume, causing considerable disruption. Usually, these repairs can’t be done until the temperature of the rails has dropped.”
“If a section of track is judged to be at risk, we introduce local speed restrictions – slower trains exert lower forces on the track and reduce the chance of buckling.”
So there you go. Network Rail have even made a little video about it all too.
If you’re unimpressed with any delays or cancellations, then you’d be wise to check out our guide to getting refunds and compensation for train journeys.
Everyone complains about the state of the railways in Britain, so with that, the government are going to delay or cut back a number of modernisation projects planned for Network Rail, which is just wonderful, eh?
So why is this happening? Well, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin says rising costs and missed targets have scuppered the £38.5bn plan, and he says that Network Rail are to blame as they should have predicted what needed to be improved, and sorted them out before they were left so late that they would take longer to fix and be more expensive to sort out.
McLoughlin said electrification work would be “paused” on the Midland mainline and on the Trans-Pennine route between Manchester and Leeds. He added that Network Rail’s chairman, Richard Parry-Jones, would leave the group and none of the executive directors would get a bonus for the last year.
Replacing Parry-Jones will be Sir Peter Hendy, who is the current commissioner of Transport for London.
The chief executive of Network Rail, Mark Carne, told the BBC: “Over the last year, it has become obvious that the challenges of operating, maintaining and enhancing the railway are significant. I think it’s time to level with the public and say that some of these extraordinary projects that we absolutely need are going to take longer and are going to cost more than we originally thought.”
“We are going to take the summer to re-evaluate the extension of the programme – we need to do that properly with the Department for Transport and, of course, looking at the impact on trains as well.”
Does anyone fancy introducing Mr Arse and Mr Elbow to each other?
There’s going to be an investigation into Network Rail’s performance. A report concluded that the company are failing to meet their own targets on punctuality and maintenance projects, which will surprise precisely no-one who has ever used a train.
Regulators say that Network Rail’s work to sort out overhead power lines is 77% behind schedule, and in addition to that, work with signalling equipment are 63% behind schedule across the nation. As for their own punctuality targets, they’re failing those too.
The Office of Road and Rail say that reliability on busy commuter routes operated by Thameslink, Southern and ScotRail are also “below requirements”. And, to round it all off, even though Network Rail haven’t finished what they need to do, they’ve still overspent on their budget for 2014/15 by £230m.
They’re incredible aren’t they? Their balls are made from indestructible brass.
During the investigation, the ORR aims to spot the problems which are stopping Network Rail from “delivering on its commitments to passengers”. We suspect that the investigation will find that the people running the show are about as useful as a jumper made out of knives.
A Network Rail spokesman said: “There are clearly opportunities to improve following decades of underinvestment in the rail network. However, it is worth highlighting that we operate the safest passenger network in Europe.”
When your train is delayed, and you want compensation, you usually get vouchers from the company that have done you wrong. However, that’s all about to change as we’ll all be able to get our paws on actual cash.
We’ve spoken about the ways you can get your compensation for late and cancelled trains, but now, there’s filthy lucre involved. It is an improvement on a system that saw passengers being given vouchers that could only be spent at stations, where tickets are more expensive than online. It was a system that didn’t work.
This change in policy is set to come into play during summer.
A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators and Network Rail, said: “Planned changes to the National Rail Conditions of Carriage will enable passengers to claim their compensation in cash, instead of rail vouchers. This will be a welcome move for passengers.”
Executive director of Which!!! Richard Lloyd, is rather happy about it, saying: “Our latest train survey showed that people are dissatisfied with the service provided by many of the operators, and it’s little wonder when three in ten people suffered a delay when they last travelled. As ticket prices continue to rocket, train operators must do more to improve levels of satisfaction and to inform people of their right to a refund as a result of delays.”
There might be some good news on the cards for disgruntled rail passengers, who might soon be able to get cool hard cash out of train companies in compensation for lateness.
Currently, if a train is 30 minutes late (or more) customers can claim compensation from the train company responsible under the delay repay scheme. Every company will have a slightly different process for claiming, but helpfully National Rail has a list of all charters and how to claim delay repay from each operator on its website.
There are even places willing to help you make your claim. Which!!! have a template letter you can use, or there are sites like Delay Repay Sniper who, for a monthly fee, will monitor the lateness of your chosen trains and advise you if there’s a claim to be made or, for a larger monthly fee, will claim online on your behalf.
But rail companies are not daft, and currently do not provide cash refunds, but instead issue national rail vouchers which can be used to purchase another ticket that are valid for 12 months from date of issue. Vouchers issued by one rail company are valid for payment to another company. However, Which!!! are now claiming that a policy change expected to come into force in the summer will see people being able to claim cash instead of vouchers for their inconvenience. So we can all spend it on junk food to keep us going while waiting for our delayed train.
A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators and Network Rail, said: “There is much to do to, particularly to ensure that more trains arrive punctually and we keep passengers better informed when disruption occurs, but good value fares and a focus on improving services are attracting more people to travel by train.”
“Planned changes to the National Rail Conditions of Carriage will enable passengers to claim their compensation in cash, instead of rail vouchers. This will be a welcome move for passengers.”
Executive director of Which!!! Richard Lloyd said: “Our latest train survey showed that people are dissatisfied with the service provided by many of the operators, and it’s little wonder when three in ten people suffered a delay when they last travelled.
“As ticket prices continue to rocket, train operators must do more to improve levels of satisfaction and to inform people of their right to a refund as a result of delays.”
However, Which!!!’s next crusade may be to lower the 30 minute minimum claim period necessary to make a claim. According to figures collected by Which!!!, January 2015 data for the Brighton to London service run by the Southern train company showed that 52% of the 3,466 trains operated were late. However, the 30 minute rule means that delayed passengers could only claim against 59 of these journeys. Good luck with that one lads.
We all know that Britain’s trains are often borderline farcical and it is very, very British to complain about them all the time. However, it is with good reason as apparently, we’ve reached record levels of overcrowding, and our trains are filling up faster than anywhere else in Europe.
According to reports, train journeys have soared by 70% in the last 10 years, going up by 4.2% this year alone.
With that, the miles covered is dropping, and of course, the train companies are putting ticket prices up and making a pretty penny from the whole ailing, creaking thing. Rail companies made £8.8billion from fares in 2014/15, from more than 1.65 billion journeys, which is up 69.5% since 2002/2003.
This is the fastest growth in the EU, and both are new, unenviable records.
The TSSA rail union said: “These record numbers must mean it is time to give something back to passengers – a fares freeze from next January.”
Of course, there’s a lot of investment in the high-speed rail that is happening in the UK, but seeing as that won’t be happening for years, it seems that passengers are being given a rough ride until then.
Click here for our guide to getting a refund on your train journey.
Just when you thought the rail strikes were off, turns out that it wasn’t a decision that was to last forever, as there’s another strike afoot!
RMT union members at Network Rail are going to go on strike next month after rejecting the latest pay offer.
They’re going to hold a 24-hour strike from 17:00 BST on 4 June and a 48-hour strike from 17:00 BST on 9 June, so update your calendars accordingly.
Basically, staff didn’t walk out last week after a new deal was offered by Network Rail, but the union’s executive suspended strike action while they looked at what was being offered.
Now they’ve looked at what has been tabled, union reps met up today and, after discussions, the offer was rejected, which leads to this fresh batch of announcements of strikes. This, of course, means more disruption for commuters.
We all know that trains can be a royal pain in the hole, but one is coming under intense scrutiny after being accused of having ‘flea infested seats’.
Greater Anglia are coughing up £30 million to fix problems after furious customers complained about the state of the trains that connect London to the south-east of England.
A Twitter page called @Delayed_Again deals with commuters’ complaints about the service, and shares a wide range of negative views. Ian Edwards, who runs the account, told the Mirror that the train carriages are like ‘filthy skips’. He added: ”The carriages have not had a proper clean since the Olympics in 2012. During the Olympics the trains ran brilliantly and were really clean, but it just hasn’t carried on.”
“We’ve got photos of people with flea bites from the seats and the dust that comes up. The toilets are an absolute disgrace – they’re always blocked. I expect a reliably run, air conditioned, clean train and I get none of the above. Instead, I’ve got a 1980s skip that is falling to pieces without air conditioning.”
As you can see from the pictures, the carriages look like they’re in a state of disrepair and could do with more than just a clean.
Abellio Greater Anglia defended themselves by saying that they’ve invested more than £30 million to upgrade their service, including 40 extra cleaners.
A spokesman for Abellio Greater Anglia said: “We are investing more than £30m to improve our train fleet, customer service and train performance and cleanliness. We have recently recruited 40 extra cleaners to bring our train presentation staff to 300 across our company.”
“We have increased the frequency of deep cleans and undertaken more extensive cleaning on trains throughout the day. Our train cleaners are working very hard to improve standards and we welcome customers’ co-operation to keep our trains clean and tidy.”
After all that fuss about the strike that was happening on the railways this Bank Holiday weekend, with people thinking they wouldn’t be able to ride the rails to fun and sunshine (or, seeing parent and being rained on), worry no more!
The strike by various unions has been called off and suspended after Network Rail put a new pay offer on the table. Whether you think they deserve a pay-rise or not, is beside the point – you can catch trains this weekend and worry about it another time.
Meanwhile, the Tube drivers on London Underground are still to be balloted for strikes in a squabble over pay for new all-night services, but that won’t have any impact in the immediate future.
So, will all the trains be running as normal this weekend? Well, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be, but keep an eye out for announcements.
The RMT’s general secretary, Mick Cash, said: “Following the Acas talks, RMT has received a revised offer that enables us to suspend the planned industrial action while we consult in full with our Network Rail representatives.”