Posts Tagged ‘travel’
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 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.
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.
And so, to driverless cars, who are now being thought of as an army of marauding, wheeled weapons under the spell of balaclava’d ne’er-do-wells on laptops. No longer are these robot cars the thing that will remove human error and make the roads safer.
Not only do we have to shriek hysterically about hackers taking the wheel, but research conducted via simulators has shown that human drivers may be a huge problem too, if they’re going to mix with our pilotless carriages. It turns out that human beings change the way they drive when using the same roads as autonomous cars by copying the driving styles and leaving less space between themselves and the vehicle in front. Stupid, susceptible human idiots with their slower-than-a-sensor reaction times.
These warnings come as the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) publishes a report on driverless vehicles and how they can be integrated onto our roads.
They think that autonomous vehicles will be commonplace on British roads, with public transport and delivery vehicles being the cheaper, safer option within 15 years. We don’t have to wait that long though, to get a look at them. The first driverless vehicles look like they’ll be on the road from January 2015 in a series of trials from the Department for Transport.
Hugh Boyes, cyber security lead at the IET, said there’s cause for panic: “If the hacker community could start to target vehicles we can imagine a fair amount of chaos. The motor industry is really strong on safety but if someone tries to interfere with the vehicle, tries to hack it and disrupt it, then these don’t fall under the typical safety issues.”
“Unfortunately living in the world today people do try to tamper with technology. The industry is only just starting to recognise this.”
“Recent reports analysing software show that 98% of applications have serious defects and in many cases there were 10-15 defects per application. If ultimately you want to use autonomous vehicles, we need to make sure they don’t have a defect.”
Just wait until we get the first fatality from someone getting run over by a driverless car. That’s when the real shrieking will begin.
Richard Price, head of the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), told Network Rail’s chief executive, Mark Carne, that the company (who happen to manage and maintain 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and 19 major stations) has to improve and that Network Rail are desperately failing passengers.
In a meeting, which occurred before the release of an ORR report on Network Rail’s performance during the first six months of a £38bn five-year investment plan, it was shown that they’d missed their punctuality target, to the tune of 50,000 more trains running significantly late than expected.
In addition to that, Network Rail are forecast to be £112m over budget this year and thanks to generally being lousy, the company are reacting to problems on the network instead of anticipating them and fixing them before they become a bigger problem.
So, in short, passengers are paying for 60% of the cost of running and maintaining the network through tickets sales and absolutely not getting their money’s worth.
With that, there’s a strong possibility for fines being thrown at Network Rail. Of course, they’ve already been heavily penalised in the past for missing a host of targets.
Richard Price said: “I do not think that Network Rail is performing close to its potential, but the new management does recognise this. We’re now watching Network Rail in much greater detail and getting much more data from them.” Price added that, with Network Rail now a public sector body, they’re no longer able to work with the freedom they had as an independent body, so now the “chickens have come home to roost” as a result of years of under-investment in Britain’s rail infrastructure.
Carne said: “The railway continues to see strong growth in passenger numbers. However, we know that there are too many passengers that do not get the level of reliability they have a right to expect.”
Passengers who use Oyster PAYG and Contactless are doing the same journeys, however Contactless fares are capped weekly, whereas Oysters are capped daily meaning that passengers are paying far more.
According to a Labour press release: “A peak-time commuter who hits the daily cap travelling between zones 4 and 7 for example would pay £19.60 a day using Oyster. On Contactless this would only cost £29.40 for a whole week meaning savings of £107.80 over Oyster if they were to hit the daily cap for a whole week. For those only commuting Monday to Friday, the saving on Contactless would still be £68.60.”
“A zone 1-6 commuter who hits the peak-time daily cap would save £53.40 per week by switching from Oyster to Contactless.”
TfL’s guide to fares says the daily peak Oyster fare is capped at £19.60, yet if you travel at the weekend it’s capped at £11.60. Basically making a weekly cost of £121.20.
The weekly Contactless fare is £29.40, which may not quite be the £107 that Labour are banging on about, but still a significant saving.
However, it all depends on where you’re at London-wise, as a weekly Zone 1-3 travelcard is £36.80, whereas Contactless doing the same would work out as £42.40.
It’s a wonder anyone manages to live in London at all.