Archive for category Rail

London rail strike over bank holiday

Expect major travel disruption in London over the August bank holiday as London overground workers go on strike.

The two-day strike will take place from midnight on Sunday 25th August. The action is by rail union RMT London overground guards in protest over plans to scrap train guards. The Transport for London plans to introduce Driver Only Operation on the entire London overground network will put millions of passengers at risk, says the union.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said that ridding the network of the guards will “give the green light to the thugs, thieves and drunks to turn this important and growing rail service into a criminals playground”.

“It will also turn London overground services into a no-go area for those with disabilities and others needing assistance as both trains and stations are de-staffed in the name of the TFL cuts drive”.

He added: “The failure of the TFL senior management, under Boris Johnson’s leadership, and the company to pull back from these proposals has forced RMT to announce this strike action.”

Current rules dictate that London overground trains are not allowed to run without the guards on board, so the 48 hour strike will likely lead to cancellations and delays across the network.

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2012 Round up

Happy new year from all at Holiday Cottages! 2012 was an eventful and special year, with a successful Olympic Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; it all came up roses for Britain. Before we start on news in 2013, here’s a round up of the main stories we covered on this blog last year.

January started positively for holiday cottage owners, as research showed that an increased number of people were planning self-catering holidays. The future of rail travel got a boost as new high speed lines got the go ahead from the government, and quicker and easier searches were made possible by thetrainline.com and Google Maps. However, train companies did not fare very well in a customer satisfaction survey.

February started with a cold snap and the government warned that parents could be fined if they were found to be taking their children on holiday during term time.

In April we posted about some brilliantholiday properties and also gave you a list of top things to do over Easter, many of which are also applicable at other times of the year!

The Olympic torch relay began in May, as a precursor to London 2012. We also ran two great competitions, tickets to Oakwood Theme Park and to Chessington World of Adventures.

Much speculation arose regarding the impact the Olympics would have on the UK in June. Brits changed their holiday plans to fit around the Games, no one knew if the Tube would cope with the extra visitors (by and large it did), and British Airways even launched a campaign to get people to stay at home and support Team GB.

July saw record rainfall over the space of 24 hours. In August the number of ‘nightcations’ were found to be on the rise, and the Lake District got some Hollywood visitors.

Yorkshire was branded ‘not a destination’, by Visit England in September, something which has been proved otherwise after it was named best for holidays at the World Travel Awards the following month, and most recently been made the starting point for the Tour de France 2014.

A rise in demand for wi-fi in holiday cottages was revealed by a survey in December, and we gave you a list of some beautiful festive getaways, great for all year, not just for Christmas!

 

So, that was the year on this blog. What will 2013 bring? Bookmark us and find out! You can also keep track of us on our Facebook page.

For a rundown of travel news in and outside of the UK, see our sister site blog, Villaseek.

 

 

 

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Yorkshire best for holidays in UK

Yorkshire in Autumn picture by Flickr user tejvanphotos

Yorkshire in Autumn picture by Flickr user tejvanphotos

 

VisitBritain might say that Yorkshire is not a ‘destination’, but at this year’s World Travel Awards, it was Yorkshire which received the title as ‘best for UK holiday’. The county fought off stiff competition from other nominees including Cornwall, Devon, the Peak District and Wales.

Yorkshire was given the title after a vote made by national and international travel agents. With around 216 million visitors each year, and a 12 per cent increase in international tourists last year, it’s an unsurprising win.

Gary Verity, the chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “The win is testament to all the thousands of fantastic businesses we have in Yorkshire that time and again put the county on the map for millions of holidaymakers, not just in Britain, but the world over.”

In an attempt to continue to push the county as the place to visit, the tourist board are putting in a bid for the starting stage of the Tour de France in 2016. Every two years the famous tour has the opening stage of the race in another country before it continues into France. Around 150,000 people have backed the bid so far, why not join them?

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Eurotunnel increases capacity over Olympics

Speed down the Eurotunnel, picture by Flickr user Bitman

Speed down the Eurotunnel, picture by Flickr user Bitman

 

Visitors to the London 2012 from across the Channel will be happy to hear that Eurotunnel has increased both the capacity and speed of its passenger trains to cope with the higher demand of visitors during the Games.

An extra half shuttle for passenger vehicle transport has been added, plus the speed of passenger trains has been increased from 140kph to 160kph which knocks an extra five minutes off the journey time. Additional service booths have also been put into service to cope with the extra capacity and keep the flow of traffic consistent.

In addition, the timetable for the Olympics coach transport provider, Eurolines, has been intensified to allow for more coaches to cross early in the morning so visitors can arrive in good time to watch morning events.

This is not just good news for passengers, but also for Eurotunnel, which has just revealed a 14% rise in revenues for the six months to June compared to the same period last year. Eurostar passenger numbers have also seen a 3% increase.

 

 

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Train companies get bashing in passenger survey

It isn’t good news for train companies according to a new major customer satisfaction survey. Passenger Focus‘s survey showed that on some routes three out of four passengers were unhappy. Main concerns were over the price rise in tickets, some increased by as much as 11%, which many believe do not offer value for money. Ratings for punctuality and reliability had also worsened from previous survey results.

National Express, First Capital Connect and London Midland received the most bad feedback. The worst for value for money, with only 27% customer satisfaction, was National Express East Anglia’s Stratford line. However, West Anglia services only performed marginally better.

Overall, 84% customer satisfaction is the same figure as last year, however, as Passenger Focus chief executive Anthony Smith pointed out ratings for services only ranged from “mediocre to good”, and “satisfaction with value for money has gone down, illustrating the impact tough economic times coupled with fare rises are having.”

Michael Roberts, of the Association of Train Operating Companies, had a more positive view of the results: “Overall, customer satisfaction remains at a record high level, though the survey results by route show there is no room for complacency.”

 

What do you think about your train services? Are the price hikes in comparison to the level of service provided justified? Please comment below.

Google Maps to show train travel details

Courtesy of thetrainline.com Google Maps has now launched information and timetables for mainland Britain. Now train travellers are able to search to journeys across the country here with more than 2,500 stations and 170,000 trips nationwide at their fingertips, in addition 8,000 bus stops and over 250 tube stations. The website also gives users full information on walking directions and some bus timetables for connections, as well as the opportunity to click through to thetrainline.com to book tickets.

Searching for travel information across Greater London was already possible but now internet and mobile users have access to timetables and train information for routes across the whole country.

Richard Rowson, Product Development Director at thetrainline.com said: “We’re delighted to be providing train travel information through Google Maps for the first time. We want to make sure that consumers are always able to consider rail options when making a journey and this innovation will help train travellers nationwide to do that by planning their route more easily. This is a fantastic partnership and demonstrates what two market leading brands working together can achieve.”

Ed Parsons, Google UK’s geospatial technologist, said: “Google Maps seeks to provide a wide range of relevant local information, and public transport station and schedule information is definitely a part of that. It is great to be able to partner with companies like thetrainline.com and have their schedule information available in Google Maps for the whole of Britain. This means we can reach and help a larger number of people with useful national rail train information.”

Google Maps is available in over 50 languages, so as London gets set for the 2012 Olympics and an even bigger influx of tourists, it is hoped that this technology will help them to find their way around the city and country.

Christopher Rodrigues, VisitBritain Chairman said: “We want to encourage visitors to explore the whole of Britain. With the Olympics less than 200 days away Google’s new initiative is exciting news. Millions of visitors plan their itinerary using Google maps and this additional information will act as a catalyst and inspire them to discover all that is wonderful about our great country.”

 

Scottish bargain for over-55s

Anyone over the age of 55 can travel anywhere in Scotland by rail for just £18 return in a special Club 55 promotion – but you’ll have to hurry as the offer closes on 30 June (return leg by 31 July).

Carlisle and Berwick-upon-Tweed stations in England are also included, so train fans in this age group – who should all be old enough to remember steam trains – could put together some spectacular trips. Top of these has to be Glasgow to Mallaig on the West Highland line. Reckoned one of the great rail journeys of the world, this 5-hour trip would normally cost at least £52 return. Or you could walk to John o’Groats by getting the train from Berwick to Thurso (normally £102 return) and walking the last few miles along the spectacular Pentland Firth coast.

Tickets can be bought at any staffed station as long as you have proof of age. And if you have a Senior Railcard, you can even get a further £2 discount. Seems there are some advantages to getting old, after all…

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London Underground strikes

The London Underground employee’s union RMT has announced that members will strike four times in the space of two weeks.

The Tube worker’s will walk out on19th, 27th, 29th June and 1st July.

The industrial action has been prompted by the dismissal of colleague Arwyn Thomas and the refusal to reinstate him while he is awaiting the outcome of an employment tribunal.

London Underground claims the strikes are premature action for this case and is mystified by the union’s action; however the RMT’s general secretary Bob Crowe reacted by saying LU had “dragged its heels” which left them with no other choice.

A Transport for London spokesman said: “It is completely mystifying that, having agreed with London Underground that the tribunal process should take its course, the RMT leadership is now threatening strike action again.”

RMT drivers will strike between:

0901 on 19th June and 0300 on 20th June

0901 on 27th June and 1159 on 28th June

Noon on 29th June and 1159 on 30th June

Noon and 2100 on 1st July.

 

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Tube summer walk out

London Underground workers’ union, RMT, have announced a series of walk outs this summer, so commuters are likely to face a period of travel chaos.

Six rounds of strikes will take place through May and June, to be staged in protest at the sacking of Northern Line driver Eamon Lynch, and Bakerloo Line driver Arwyn Thomas.

There will be three strikes lasting between nine and 24 hours from 16th to 20th May and a further three from 13th to 17th June.

The exact dates are: 9.01pm, 16th May, to 11.59am on 17th May; noon on 18th May to 11.59am on 19th May; noon to 9pm on 20th May; 9.01pm on 13th June to 11.59am on 14th June; noon on 15th June to 11.59am on 16th June; noon to 9pm on 17th June.

Review of 2010

2010 was a year jam-packed with travel related news stories, festivals and events. I’ve taken the liberty of collating some of Holiday Cottages’ best blog posts over the year to give an overall review so you don’t have to go searching for them yourself!

January started with testing out my culinary skills at the Ashburton Cookery School in Devon.

A survey in February showed high speed rail was more important to people than airport expansions.

The Shambles in York was voted most picturesque street in March. There was also trouble on the railways with a Network Rail threatened strike.

Easter was a staycation preference in April.

There were many family fun festivals between May and August.

Even before the Royal wedding announcement we found out how the Royals are key to UK tourism.

27 West Country beaches were awarded blue flags in August, showing that the West Country is a great place to visit!

We were given tips on how to give tourists a better welcome during the Olympics.

Taxing times for holiday rental businesses.

The famous Exmoor Food Festival was in October, tickling visitor’s taste buds!

Bonfire Night had many events to travel to, including the flaming barrel run in Ottery St. Mary’s!

It got very cold in November and December as part of the big freeze.

The year ended with a little early Christmas cheer for the travel industry!

So there’s a pick of the Holiday Cottages blog coverage of events and news over the year. For travel news pertaining to outbound travel don’t forget to check out our sister site’s blog, Villaseek. There will be a run down of the year’s news on there very soon also!