Posts Tagged ‘travel’
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.”
Apparently, a ‘third party error’ was responsible and sadly, even though a load of people snapped up the cut-price tickets, United said they would not be honouring the purchases. The flights would normally cost around £4,000.
Ever gracious, United Airlines released a statement accusing customers of trying to “take advantage of the situation”.
“United is voiding the bookings of several thousand individuals who were attempting to take advantage of an error a third-party software provider made when it applied an incorrect currency exchange rate, despite United having properly filed its fares,” they said.
“Most of these bookings were for travel originating in the United Kingdom, and the level of bookings made with Danish Kroner as the local currency was significantly higher than normal during the limited period that customers made these bookings.”
The glitch allowed users to book a round-trip flight between Heathrow and Newark Liberty International airport for 491 Danish kroner if, on United’s site, they changed their host country to Denmark.
People who got in while the glitch was still live, were able to buy cheap tickets to any US destination from Heathrow, as long as they opted for first class or business class.
Imagine the good publicity if United Airlines honoured the flights! Still, they’re probably still butt hurt from the time their Twitter account got hacked with all manner of risque messages.
Buses and trains are notorious for being late in the UK, with most people just accepting it as part of the service. However, all that might’ve changed as one lady made a note of all the late bus services and then invoiced for them successfully.
Elizabeth Thomas sent her invoice to First Buses, which totted up to £103.30 and they gave her a load of free passes.
She complained about a service in Bristol which had been consistently late, which she said, had been preventing her from spending time with her two children because her commute was taking longer than necessary.
“I’ve had to start leaving an hour earlier just to be sure I get to work on time, and by the time I get home I’m looking at a 12-hour day most days,” she said.
“That’s time I should be spending with my children. Is my time not valuable to First?”
Thomas looked at her Twitter and used the data she collated there, to document late buses (or indeed, buses that didn’t show up at all). She added up all the time she waited and put it into an invoice. She found that she’d wasted 11.24 hours waiting for First’s buses.
With that, she decided to charge First £9.19 per hour, which resulted in a cost of £103.30. Seeing as Elizabeth Thomas was successful, should we all start invoicing travel companies for late running services, to get some compensation or free stuff? Looks like a good idea to us.
First in Bristol got in touch to say this: “The success of this particular claim was due to the fact that there is a customer promise already in place in Bristol, which offers to pay out if a bus (in Bristol) is more than one minute early at a defined timing point, or more than 20 mins late at any boarding point, and the cause of the failure is within the company’s control. This is well publicized locally and means that there was, in fact, no need for an invoice to be submitted at all.”
All buses services across the country would do well to adopt this customer promise!
Now that the price of oil has gone down, prompting savings with our energy bills and at the petrol pumps, does that mean the price of holiday flights is going to fall? Well, according to what you’ve just read in our headline, it doesn’t look like it.
This follows what Flybe have stated, saying that this drop in oil costs will have a “minimal impact” on the price of air travel. With that, shares in Flybe dropped accordingly by over 20%.
Saad Hammad, chief executive, who is trying to get the company making a profit again has been selling the company’s peripheral assets and reworking their routes. He’s certain that the airline is on the up (pardon the pun), saying: “Flybe’s improvement in its core UK business continues to progress. Only a year into our three year transformation we now have a platform which enables us to compete in a tough environment where the consumer demands value.”
“We have responded to that by keeping our fares low and launching new routes. Having removed nearly a $1bn of future liabilities over the course of this year in relation to the firm legacy order for additional Embraer E175 aircraft and ongoing losses of Flybe Finland, we are making solid progress towards finding a solution to our remaining legacy issue, Project Blackbird.”
Project Blackbird sounds like a secret services strategy where they incite race riots or something. Either way, fact is, Flybe won’t be dropping their prices and at the moment, it doesn’t look like anyone else in the industry is going to bother either.
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 email@example.com 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.
The Swiss-based travel peddler runs tours in the UK through 35 outlets alongside John Lewis, as well as in Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Hong Kong, China and India.
The company are saying that all current bookings will be honoured and that people needn’t feel compelled to riot about it.
The company said the travel market environment was “likely to remain fast-changing, requiring travel companies to choose distinct development priorities”.
Instead it will concentrate on areas such as Asia, Middle East and Africa. This way, Kuoni reckon they’ll grow faster than the global travel markets which are expected to expand. Kuoni said in a statement that it “firmly believes that the outbound business can be better developed under new ownership”.
Kuoni Travel UK managing director Derek Jones said: “It’s very much business as usual right now for all our staff and customers. We firmly believe that the outbound business can be better developed under new ownership and we’ll be working closely with our colleagues in Switzerland to make sure we find the right buyers.”
Anyone fancy a whip round?
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.
Santa has to do some work for big companies now, as a lot of people are downloading their presents in 2014. Father Christmas has to do promotional work while little Jessica downloads Call of Duty from the PlayStation Network. It’s rather sad to see Ol’ Saint Nick pimping himself out this way.
His latest bit of payola was on the flight from London to Boston where he gave out Windows tablets to travellers on behalf of Microsoft.
On the 787 Dreamliner, passengers were encouraged to use the plane’s wifi to log-on to interactive Norad Track Santa platform. While the aircraft flew over Greenland, Santa got on the radio and asked the pilots for permission to land while glass panels showed Father Christmas alighting on the plane with his sleigh.
There’s a video.
Santa waddled down the aisle, taking photos and chatting to passengers.
Not only that, 787 cabin indulged passengers in a multi-sensory event, starring the smells and sounds of Christmas. Presumably, the smell of cloves, nutmeg and grandma farting out sprouts while tutting at the TV.
Fred Warren, creative director at Microsoft Connected Digital Services, said: “The chance to create the first 4D experience in-flight for passengers where technology was the enabler of bringing Christmas to life was a fantastic opportunity for Microsoft. Co-creating this concept with Virgin Atlantic has been unique as we adapted the technology to deliver a true Virgin Atlantic brand experience.”
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.