Posts Tagged ‘travel’
With that, George Osborne is going to sell its 40% stake in Eurostar before the election.
Gideon says that he’s looking for bid by the end of this month and hopes that the privatisation of the Channel tunnel train operator will raise £300m for the country. Looks like we’re selling a company that is making a profit (£18.6m last year and £16.3m the year before).
Of course, selling a profitable business is not a new thing or indeed, a bad idea. However, you can’t help but wonder if we’re all looking at a repeat of the absolute farce that was the Royal Mail sell-off.
Today, Osborne will say: “I am determined that we go on making the decisions to reform the British economy and tackle our debts. So we will proceed with the potential sale of the UK’s shareholding in Eurostar today. Ensuring we can deliver the best quality infrastructure for Britain and the best value for money for the taxpayer are key parts of our long-term economic plan.”
“As part of our aim to achieve £20bn from asset sales by 2020, the sale proceeds would make an important contribution to the task of reducing the public sector debt.”
Here’s a thing – Britain’s national debt is £1.4tn, so the sale of Eurostar isn’t going to make much of a dent and, of course, privatising railways hasn’t really worked out for everyone.
However, that didn’t stop one bloke doing exactly that one an American flight who reportedly said: “I have Ebola, you are all screwed.”
Of course, as soon as the plane landed, it all got a bit E.T. with officials in science suits boarding the aircraft and removing the joker. Thanks to people with mobile phones, someone caught a nice video of it all, including the air hostess calling the man “an idiot.”
As the man makes his way off the plane, you can hear him say: “I was just kidding… I ain’t from Africa.” Tough cheese. And little reward for the poor buggers who had to sit on the plane for two hours while medical teams ran tests and evaluations on Mr Backfired Joke.
You want to see the video don’t you?
If you’re travelling into or around the capital next week, prepare for a rough commute – London Underground workers are set to strike again next week as part of the long running dispute over ticket office closures.
Strike action starts at 9pm on Tuesday 14th October and runs for 48hrs, enough time to really piss off workers and those reliant on The Tube right before the weekend.
Octobers planned strikes are the latest walkout in RMT’s “Every Job Matters” campaign. Recent talks between the union and London Underground have fallen flat and whilst the union said small amounts of progress had been made, it clearly wasn’t enough to satisfy RMT’s executives after months and months of negotiations and meeting room fun.
Aside from the loss of all ticket offices and over 750 jobs by 2015, RMT’s Mick Cash said that the closures and staff loss would “render the tube a no-go zone for many people with disabilities and for women travelling alone”.
Not patronising at all.
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.
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.
Today’s the day when we all find out how much train fares are going up by, not that train travel is a rip-off as it is. But as morning follows night, train companies put prices up year on year when the RPI inflation figure is announced.
The formula used allows prices to be increased by an average of RPI plus 1%, but train companies have the option to add another 2% to some fares, just as long as the overall average remains in line with the formula.
Next year’s price rise could well take the overall increase to around 24.7% during this Parliament, according to the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) and protests are expected at stations across the UK.
In addition to that, Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh reckons there’ll be a further rise of 24% by 2018 if the Tories stay in power. She’s obviously forgotten about the Lib Dems being in the coalition as well, but that’s British politics for you.
The CBT are right to point out that, in the same period train fares have risen by upwards of 24% since 2010, wages had only risen 6.9%. Everyone knows that the UK has some of the highest train fares in the world and as a result, customers don’t think train companies are at all trustworthy.
Rail Minister Claire Perry did acknowledge that “we have had inflation-busting fare rises almost every year over the last decade” but insisted the Government is committed to “fair fares”.
She said: “What we have got to do is make sure rail passengers, who could be forgiven for thinking ‘What on earth am I getting for these rises I’ve seen over the last decade?’, start to realise that they are paying fair fares for comfortable commuting.”
“Passengers are paying for the “biggest investment in the rail network since Victorian times”, she added while yammering on Radio 4.
The train company were keen to dismiss such balderdash after several reports had said they’d done away with them.
A name-free First Great Western spokesman said: “There will be a quiet carriage on all our high speed trains for the foreseeable future. Claims that there will be no solace for customers who want a quieter journey are simply unfounded.”
What is true, added the spokey, is that they’re removing the First Class quiet carriage in the next few months, as an overall overhaul of its First Class carriages.
“The company is converting some First Class carriages into Standard carriages on all its long distance trains, which will only leave one and a half First Class carriages.
“To make one of those carriages ‘quiet’ would be madness, but it is a practical decision based on the need to increase the number of standard seats on our services. The renewed First Class carriages will instead be fitted with specially designed headrests and partition screens to keep noise levels to a minimum.”
WELL THAT’S A RELIEF! (Shhh! – Ed.)
That’s because of ground staff shortages on the biggest holiday weekend of the year. Swissport, who operate baggage services for some airlines at Gatwick, simply don’t have enough staff to put your suitcases on the plane.
Why? Because they use staff on zero hours contracts, and nobody wants to work at the weekend. (Ha ha – up yours Swissport!)
Still, it’s not very good news for travellers flying with the following airlines and travel companies: BA, Virgin, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson.
Some passengers who flew last weekend are still waiting for their luggage, and one Commonwealth Games paraylmpian was left stranded at baggage claim for four hours, waiting for his wheelchair.
Monarch have already sacked Swissport, but there has to be a notice period of 120 days before they can employ another baggage handling firm.
So what can passengers at Gatwick expect this weekend?
‘Gatwick is working closely with its airlines to improve the performance of Swissport in line with the airport’s own high standards of passenger service.’ said a Gatwick spokesrobot.
OH WELL, THAT’S REASSURING.
Boris Johnson – Foursquare Mayor of the Bullingdon Club chophouse – is considering charging £10 for each diesel vehicle to enter London from 2020, in a bid to tackle the city’s monstrous pollution levels.
Low emission zones might become widespread in major cities as efforts increase to oust clapped out old diesel vehicles, which are responsible for the majority of stinking local air pollution.
Boris would pile the £10 charge on top of the existing Congestion charge, meaning that lorry and van drivers would be forking out £20 minimum to enter Central London. And if you’re in a diesel car made before 2006, you’ll also have to raid your wallet.
However, if your white van or lorry meets Euro 6 emission standards, you won’t have to pay.
It comes as Labour proposes plans to introduce a network of UK-wide low emission zones. If not, most British cities will be choked up with dangerous levels of pollution by 2030, and we’ll all probably choke to death.
Boris’ environment lackey, Matthew Penchartz, said: ‘We want to see an unwinding of incentives that have driven people to diesel. Euro engine standards on emissions have not delivered the savings expected, meaning we now have a legacy of a generation of dirty diesels.’
However, for years, everybody was happy to push diesel as a ‘clean’ alternative to petrol. In fact, ministers encouraged people to buy into it to fight climate change.
Well, you live and learn, eh? *coughs*
There’s nothing like going on holiday to make you realise that you’re wasting your life in your dead end, wage slave job. Instead, why not just live on sun lounger with rum coursing through your veins?
This horrific post holiday epiphany could be why a whopping 25% of us take an unofficial holiday extension and chuck a sickie on our first day back from holiday.
A survey by Travelex also found that if we didn’t phone in sick, we spent our lunch hour pining for the fjords and planning our next trip out of the office hellhole.
The survey asked 2000 workers about their holiday attitudes, and also found that nearly half of us admitted to being distracted or forgetful after their holidays.
But you can hardly blame people, can you? You’ve got a skinful of pina colada and a digestive tract brimming with calamari, as well as sunstroke.
And let’s face it, we all need 24 hours to recover from a Ryanair flight.
They’ll unveil the 8 possible locations for the UK’s first spaceport at the Farnborough Air show tomorrow, which are thought to include sites in the North of Scotland, Bristol, Norfolk and the Outer Hebrides.
But won’t just be Richard Branson and his rich Virgin Galactic berks who will use the spaceport. It’ll also be for manned space missions and satellites.
Talking of Branson, he’s launching his first Virgin Galactic flight later this year from a spaceport in New Mexico. But he’s already been talking about using Lossiemouth, on the east coast of Scotland, as a possible UK base for Virgin Galactic flights.
So will the spaceport be the same as a regular airport, except the departures lounge will be weightless?
Will we still have take off our shoes and put our toiletries in a clear plastic bag?
And will there be a WH Smiths selling a free Mars Bar and Galaxy with every copy of the Daily Teleport?
Thanks to TERRORISM INC. and
widespread panic, new security measures by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), uncharged phones and laptops will not be allowed on board.
The TSA are specifically targeting iPhones and Samsung Galaxies after new information that Al-Qaeda is developing new ways to blow up planes, using smartphones, tablets or laptops. (Never let it be said that Al-Qaeda are a Western world-obsessed one trick pony).
The Nusra Front – not to be confused with the People’s Front of Judea – are also plotting an airliner attack.
So, cue insanity at security. Shoes off, laptop charged, phone charged, anus scanned. (Well, not that – YET). If you can’t turn on your phone or laptop at security, you won’t be allowed to board with it. The TSA are keeping quiet about which airports will be involved in the additional scanning process, but it’s thought that Heathrow is one of them.
Anyway, the advice is, plug in before you fly, and don’t ask why. (‘It’s not something to over-react to or overspeculate about’ say the powers-that-be.) However, you can imagine there’ll be a little bit of over-reaction when there are massive queues and hysteria and everyone misses their flight.
Looming TFL plans to make London buses cashless have come under fire, after a recent report found that 2,115 passengers were left stranded every day last year because of problems with their Oyster cards.
If your card runs out, gets nicked, or ends up down the back of the telly, London bus drivers are not inclined to joyfully wave your through with a smile. You are walking, mate.
And the damning new figures from the London Assembly Green Party show that the transition from cash to cards probably isn’t going to be seamless.
London buses will no longer accept cash from July 6th. Meanwhile, Boris has tried to calm things down by tweeting that ‘We will be extra understanding if your card has run out.’
TFL have also introduced ‘One More Journey’, which entitles you to one free trip if your Oyster card has run out. But although critics agree that’s a step in the right direction, they still think there’s a higher chance that people will be stranded.
Darren Johnson AM said: ‘There are over two thousand Oyster Cards a day which are actually reported as stolen, lost or no longer working, but the number of people who suddenly find themselves without a functioning card is likely to be even higher.’
However, TFL say that less than one percent of bus journeys are paid for using cash. Leon Daniels from TFL said:
‘If a passenger’s Oyster card is lost, stolen or in very rare cases not working, they will be able to pay using a contactless payment card or visit our extended Oyster Ticket Stop network to get a replacement. Bus drivers are also being provided with refreshed guidance to deal with vulnerable passengers.’
‘Refreshed guidance.’ ie: don’t kick the old lady who doesn’t even have a bank account – let alone a contactless debit card – off the bus too hard…
Thinking of flying to France for some nice wine, sunshine and the chance to be the kind of Briton who secretly loves the place after slagging them off all year? Well, here’s something you should know: flights to France could be a pain in the derrière after French air traffic controllers went on strike, forcing their airlines to cancel a load of flights.
Now, it is worth pointing out that this is quite a small tête-à-tête and most flights will be fine, but, it’d be worth you checking out the situation first so you don’t end up getting mucked around in a situation that tends to muck people around at the best of times.
French authorities have noted that there’s going to be a 20% reduction of flights.
Ryanair has said 26 flights to and from France will be cancelled on Tuesday, while EasyJet said around 20% of their services are being cancelled. British Airways have cancelled a handful of flights too.
This doesn’t bode well if you’re thinking of going over to watch the Tour de France and while this is a small strike, there’s always the chance of negotiations breaking down and them lasting even longer. This could be particularly problematic, seeing as 99% of French communications are conducted with shrugging and smoking filterless cigarettes.
A Ryanair spokesman said that all passengers travelling this week should check the status of their journey on their website before setting off for the airport, while EasyJet said: “Despite the fact that this disruption is beyond easyJet’s control, we will do everything possible to minimise the inconvenience to our customers. We will proactively provide advice for our passengers through our website, text messages and flight-tracker tool.”
The strike should be kicking off today. Bon chance.