Thursday, 21 May 2009

If the devil could cast his net...


This from ShareCast...

Bus and train group National Express is to sell its London bus business, Travel London, to a subsidiary of NS Dutch Railways.

Of course NatEx and NedRail make good bedfellows.

What with both rumoured to be out of the running for the South Central franchise.

First for really peeing passengers off

What bit of the current climate don't train operators get?

There is a recession on.

Everyone is feeling the squeeze.

So what in God's name made Worst Group think they could get away with this increase to First Class weekend upgrades, revealed in The Times...

On Sunday the cost of a one-way upgrade increased from £10 to £25 for journeys between stations in Cornwall and South Wales to London. On many other routes the price doubled to £20.

The public furore over troughing MPs with their tax payer funded clean moats, third homes and duck islands should have given them a clue.

The fact that Iain Coucher had the wit and gumption to sense the public mood and abandon a sizeable part of his annual bonus, should have shown them the way.

But no - in bus bandit land the mantra is 'screw the passenger for all we can get'.

Be of no doubt there is mounting fury over the avaraciousness of the 'service' sector.

The passengers (think voters, possibly as soon as October) will not put up with this cynical milking of their hard earned cash for long.

They will kick back and the railway will suffer, not that our short term TOC owner groups could care. After all they are merely "thinly capitalised equity profiteers of the worst kind".

No matter.

So what did Worst Group have to say for itself?

We’ve changed the way Weekend First works to reflect the distance travelled rather than one, catch-all fare, which saw customers travelling from, for example, London to Reading paying the same price as someone going from London to Penzance."

So based on the fact that First have milked local passengers at the same rate as long-distance travellers over many years, does this mean that Weekend First prices between Reading and London have actually decreased.

Errr... no.

They of course remain the same.

Meanwhile those travelling to London from two of the most economically disadvantaged parts of our nation - Cornwall and South Wales - will be hit by the full 150% increase.

This complete disconnection between our industry and the world it is there to serve makes you weep.

First to Twitter

This from Brand Republic...

Rail operator First Capital Connect (FCC) is to use Twitter to update passengers about delays and problems with rail network they are travelling on.

Good effort.

What with PJ running NR's 'Internet Rapid Rebuttal Unit' and FCC using Twitter is the railway in danger of entering the 21st Century?

NXEA's Whitsun Bank Holiday relief

This from the Norwich Evening News...

Every seat for (today's and Friday's) 5pm and 5.30pm from London Liverpool Street to Norwich has been sold, National Express East Anglia bosses have warned.

An extra train has been scheduled for 5.28pm to run from the London station ending its journey at Ipswich ahead of the busy Bank Holiday Weekend.

Full marks to NXEA for running a relief and for publicising it...

Another NR fares intervention!

This just in from PJ over at the Network Rail press office...

It's not my job to defend the cost of rail fares but I thought I had to share this story.

I have a packed agenda for a working day next week which involves four English cities.

This is my itinerary:

08:04 - dep King's Cross
10:07 - arr York
11:58 - dep York
13:19 - arr Manchester Piccadilly
15:07 - dep Manchester Piccadilly
16:31 - arr Birmingham New St
18:10 - dep Birmingham New St
19:35 - arr Euston

I don't have a status pass or get privs and all the tickets are standard singles booked six days in advance.

Any idea what it cost me?

£69 in total - the most expensive being £29 KX-York.

My gast is truly flabbered.

Thank you for this PJ.

Dear reader, was your gast also truly flabbered? Have you travelled a greater distance for less?

If so please let us know at this address:

The Moaning Minnies
Care of Geoff Hoon MP
999 Letsby Avenue

Lies, damned lies and TrainLies

So the supine Advertising Standards Authority has finally decided to act on the TrainLine's misleading and frankly rather insulting 'sheep ads'.

Not before time.

However, the spin has been spun and the resulting media coverage of the ban will probably give greater exposure to the TrainLies poxy website than the entire ad campaign.

The full ASA report can be found here.

There must be a better way to regulate crap advertising?

UPDATE: This just in from 'Sword of Truth'...

I was one of the complainants to the ASA about this TrainLies advert.

I initially took it up with Passenger Focus, who proved as much use as a chocolate fireguard.
In fact I've lost count of the number of times I've received replies from the alleged passenger watchdog saying: “Passenger Focus is unable to help you on this matter”.

What do Passenger Focus actually do, apart from turn up on the TV, whinging about fares, overcrowding or rail passengers on buses?

All of which seems not to make a jot of difference to the journeys of real rail passengers

UPDATE: Matthew Engel in his new book Eleven Minutes Late offers the following reflection on Passenger Focus...

Anthony Smith (is) the chief executive of something called Passenger Focus which purports to represent rail passengers.

Smith is appointed by the Board of Passenger Focus which in turn is appointed by the Government... this puts Smith roughly in the position of the court-appointed defence lawyer in a Soviet show trial.

He is allowed to put in the odd word on behalf of his clients - and indeed is frequently quoted in the news media - provided he does not do so too vigorously.

In the Soviet Union that would have got him shot. This being Britain he would merely endanger his OBE.