Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Rail strike: RMT planned industrial action

July 3rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

traintrack 300x225 Rail strike: RMT planned industrial actionThere’s another strike afoot, with services expected to be significantly affected from Thursday 9 July to start of service on Saturday 11 July.

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.”

Ryanair set up petition against strikes

July 1st, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

ryanair 300x225 Ryanair set up petition against strikesWith traffic control unions striking all over the place, Ryanair have decided to launch a petition about it all. Are they supporting the workers, hoping they get better treatment at work? Of course not! This is Ryanair!

Their petition is called Keep Europe’s Skies Open’ and is a protest against further strikes from those pesky union, commie rats! They may not have said ‘commie rats’, but they may have muttered ‘pinkos’ under their breath.

Of course, French air traffic controllers are due to walk out this week, so this is a timely petition. The last time there was one of these strikes, the airlines of Europe had to cancel over 3,600 flights, troubling over 5000,000 travellers.

With online petitions being just the thing in 2015 (look how many people signed the Jeremy Clarkson one), Ryanair hopes they’ll be able to attract one million signatures from people across Europe, which they’ll then present to Brussels and urge the EU Commission and the EU Parliament to finally take action (look how Jeremy Clarkson didn’t get his job back at Top Gear, for more on that).

Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said: “It’s unacceptable that Europe’s consumers repeatedly have their holiday and travel plans disrupted or cancelled by the selfish actions of ATC unions every summer, who use strikes as a first weapon rather than a last resort. French ATC unions will again stage three further days of strikes this week, which will impact hundreds of thousands of European consumers.”

“It is particularly reprehensible that these strikes are taking place at the height of the peak summer season, deliberately targeting holidaymakers and families.”

“Today we have launched this keepeuropeskiesopen.com website where consumers can support our online petition calling on the European Commission and European Parliament to either remove the ATC unions’ right to strike, or allow other European ATCs to operate French or Spanish airspace during these repeated strikes.”

“It’s time the Commission and parliament took action to prevent Europe’s families and ordinary air travellers having their hard earned holidays or travel plans regularly disrupted by these ATC unions closing the skies over Europe. If the EU won’t listen to the airlines, perhaps they’ll listen to Europe’s citizens.”

Want to sign it or look at it mockingly? Whatever your angle, click here to see it.

Channel Tunnel closed due to fire

June 30th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

eurostar channel tunnel Channel Tunnel closed due to fireThe Channel Tunnel has been closed thanks to a fire.

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.

athens greece1 300x200 What you need to know if youre holidaying in GreeceAre you going on holiday to Greece? Have you been watching the news and getting jumpy about it all? Well, here’s what you need to know.

Today, the 29th June 2015, the currency of Greece is still the Euro. It is advised that you take other forms of payment with you, as well as cash. Make sure you’ve got your debit card and/or credit card. However, there’s a possibility that Greek banking services (including service of ATMs and the processing of credit card payments) could become limited at short notice.

You need to make sure you have enough in Euros to cover any emergencies.

There’s also a lot of strike action going on over there, so there can be disruption to public transport in and out of Greece. There’s also a lot of demonstrations going down, especially in Athens. The government have a dedicated page regarding planned major strikes and demos, which you can see here.

More worryingly, there’s a ‘general threat’ of terrorism and acts of political violence, and again, there’s a dedicated page where you can keep informed about all that, here.

If you’re in Greece and you need to call the emergency services, the number is 112. If you have your UK mobile with you, you can dial 999 and it will automatically put you through to the Greek emergency services.

Fancy staying in Hitler’s holiday home?

June 26th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

18211 0346 1 md Fancy staying in Hitlers holiday home?A company has transformed Hitler’s holiday camp (sorry, that will never stop sounding like a fantastically camp b-movie, possibly starring Beryl Reid) so members of the public can enjoy the seaside on the German island of Rugen.

So what’s the craic? Well, Prora was meant to be a holiday camp for Nazis (think Butlins, only with marginally more levels of despairing hate) and was completed in 1936, however, it wasn’t ever opened to members of the public.

However, in the last decade, it has been transformed from an abandoned mess into modern hotels and apartments.

Axel Bering and Michael Jacobi, the project investors, say they’re resolutely not-arsed about the history of the building that once belong to Hitler. Bering, from Denmark, said that the resort reminded him more of his childhood holidays. Some of the holiday apartments have already been sold and there’s families visiting the resort already.

Prices start from £125,000 for three-bedroom apartments, and the priciest ones will set you back £900,000.

Not only that, there’s also going to be a shopping centre, swimming pool and tennis courts and all manner of things being added in the not-too-distant future.

One of the people who has bought a flat there – Roland Glockner, an advertising exec – said that it was “love at first site”, adding: “It was right by the sea, the nature was fantastic, it was nice and quiet and not so expensive. Perfect for the family or as somewhere to grow old.”

If you want to read up on the history of the gigantic space, then click yourself silly, here.

Government delays Network Rail upgrade

June 25th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

traintrack 300x225 Government delays Network Rail upgradeEveryone 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?

 

New strict rules for being drunk on a plane

June 25th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

plane 300x225 New strict rules for being drunk on a planeThere has been a bit of bother, with people being drunk on planes. Recently, a drunk lady ‘performed’ a sex act while on a flight, and we’ve seen BA staff getting threatened with a stabbing too. More recently, a man was taken off a Thomas Cook plane by police for being disorderly and sexually assaulting a stewardess, forcing a flight to land.

With that, budget airline Jet2.com, say that more measures are needed to protect staff and non abusive passengers, from drunk people. The airline say that they’re backed by some of the UK’s biggest travel operators, in what they deem to be an increasingly serious problem.

Phil Ward, managing director of Jet2.com said: “We are a family airline and holiday company carrying millions of passengers every year. These are people who have chosen to take their well-earned summer breaks with us and we want them to have a wonderful time. Therefore, under no circumstances will we allow the disruptive few to spoil the experience for the majority of the fantastic customers that fly with us.”

Jet2.com are working with other holiday companies, industry bodies and the UK’s leading airports, to bring in more comprehensive measures to stop disruptive behaviour associated with air travel. And they see it as people who have had far too much to drink before flying.

The company added that cabin crew are more frequently dealing with passengers who are abusive, racist, noisy and aggressive, which is causing misery for everyone else. They added that they have an educational scheme to make sure passengers are aware of the impact of alcohol at high altitude and that they’ve given staff the power to make quick decisions when it comes to disruptive passengers, including verbal and written warnings.

One of the things that can be doled out, is a bill to the culprits, for the cost of the diversion and the potential for legal action, after the flight has completed.

Jet2.com are taking this further too, writing to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, and they’re urging the Government to take decisive action to help enforce new, stricter policies.

Oh look – the night Tube map

June 22nd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

London Underground has launched their official map which shows which stations will operate 24-hour services, over the weekends from September onward.

Of course, this follows the news that all the drivers are going on strike over pay and working conditions, which is nice. Members of ASLEF will be on strike for 24 hours from 9.30pm on 8 July.

Here’s the new map.

night tube 500x375 Oh look   the night Tube map

Gareth Powell, director of strategy and service development for London Underground, says that this night service is a “historic step in our modernisation of the Underground”.

He added: “The Night Tube map shows our customers exactly when and where they can use this landmark service, which will make their late night journeys quicker and easier than ever before. As well making life easier for people, the Night Tube will also boost London’s night-time economy – supporting thousands of jobs and stimulating hundreds of millions of pounds in economic growth.”

If you want to see a larger version of the map, click here.

Network Rail to be investigated

June 12th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

traintrack 300x225 Network Rail to be investigatedThere’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.”

Delayed train compensation to turn into cash

June 11th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

fast train 300x199 Delayed train compensation to turn into cashWhen 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.”

Our how to guide to get compensation for late and cancelled trains

Strike affects flights to-and-from Spain

June 5th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Mobile phone holiday beach GUIDE 01 Strike affects flights to and from SpainAre you flying to, or from Spain any time soon? Then you should know about some strikes that could potentially cock your journey up.

There’s plans for Spanish Air Traffic controllers to go on strike, starting Monday. Controllers will be on strike for 4 hours throughout the day, and there’ll be four days of strike action.

If you are travelling on Monday, then you really need to contact your airline and check whether or not your journey is affected.

The strike is planned to take place on four separate days June 8th, 10th, 12th and 14th. They’ll take place for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, and there’s no word on the exact timings as yet, but they will be confirmed at some point.

Some airlines will contact customers via email or text, so keep an eye out for that.

This strike is in response to the punishment of 61 controllers who closed air space from the Barcelona Control Centre in 2010 and walked out over a pay dispute. One of the controllers was not reinstated, so staff are supporting them and protesting against the punishments handed out.

ryanair 300x225 Student changes name by deed poll   cheaper than Ryanairs £220 feeA student (yes, they’re annoying – get over it) has changed his name by deed poll because it is cheaper than paying Ryanair to sort an error out. A saving of £117 no less!

What’s the craic? Well, Adam Armstrong was booked under the wrong name and Ryanair wanted £220 to alter the name on the ticket, which is double the price of the flight. So, instead of messing around with the airline, he changed his name by deed poll and rushed through a new passport under the name that he was mistakenly booked under – Adam West.

Yes. He’s now got the same name as Batman.

The name-change and updated passport cost him £103 and he said, talking about how the error happened: ”Her stepdad got my name from Facebook but I had put it as Adam West as a joke, because he was the actor who played Batman on TV.”

So why are Ryanair so prohibitively expensive on something like this? They say it isn’t just squeezing coins out of humans, but rather, a bid to stop people from reselling tickets for profit.

A spokesman for Ryanair said: “Customers are asked to ensure that the details they enter at the time of booking are correct before completing their booking and we offer a 24-hour ‘grace period’ to correct minor booking errors.”

“A name change fee is charged in order to discourage and prevent unauthorised online travel agents from ‘screenscraping’ Ryanair’s cheapest fares and reselling them on to unwitting consumers at hugely inflated costs.”

Latest rail strike seems to be off…

June 1st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

train Latest rail strike seems to be off...In a scenario that is more off-and-on than Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (nice modern pop-culture reference point for the teenagers reading Bitterwallet, there), the latest rail strikes that have been planned seem to be off.

The planned strikes by workers from the RMT union have been suspended after the latest talks over a pay deal, according to the arbitration service Acas.

The 24-hour strike by Network Rail workers was supposed to take place from 17:00 on Thursday, followed by a 48-hour walk-out next week.

Acas said four days of talks helped “formulate a set of revised proposals”.

That said, this has been a huge case of to-ing and fro-ing, and we suspect that, by the time your eyes have reached this sentence in the article, the strike will have been put back on again, then suspended again, and… christ knows where we’re up to.

The rail strike seems to be off though, and that’s the main thing.

Deathwatch: Malaysia Airlines

June 1st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

malaysia airlines 300x223 Deathwatch: Malaysia AirlinesBleaks times are ahead for Malaysia Airlines, as their new boss claims that the company is “technically bankrupt”, after the carrier had two plane accidents within a year.

As a result, Christoph Mueller has announced that 6,000 jobs are going to be cut.

Confidence in the airline is low after Flight MH370 vanished with 239 people on it in March 2014, as well as the accident involving Flight MH17 which was hit by a suspected surface-to-air missile over Ukraine, seeing 298 people die.

These accidents saw the company taken into state ownership, but this was only compounded by what is claimed to be mismanagement of the airline for a number of years. Something that Mueller echoed: “The decline of performance started long before the tragic events of 2014.”

Malaysia Airlines have been posting losses for year now, and in a statement, they pledged to “stop the bleeding” regarding their finances. Insensitive language for someone involved in so much loss of human life. Anyway, before they give up, they’re going to have a rebrand and they are hoping that they’ll return to growth by 2017.

Mueller oversaw a large number of job cuts when he was at the helm at Aer Lingus, and as a result, is referred to in the industry as The Terminator.

Will Malaysia Airlines be back, or is it a case of hasta la vista? And yes, those puns have made us thoroughly ashamed of ourselves.

Rail Strike – back on!

May 28th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

train 287x300 Rail Strike   back on!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.