Passengers Unhappy With UK Railways Ticketing Policies

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), a UK-based independent safety and economic regulator for railways, has reported that the current ticketing policies of UK train operators are creating confusion for travellers.

The association has recently conducted a survey of around 1,600 rail passengers across Great Britain, to highlight that passengers find it difficult to understand the various pricing policies of rail tickets, including inexplicit terminology like ‘peak hours’, ‘off-peak hours’, and ‘Advanced’ ticket purchases, and also the validity of tickets.

Over 1,500 people were questioned on trains, online and as part of focus groups about their experiences of choosing and buying rail tickets. Research highlights a varied understanding of ticket restrictions and validities.

Almost three quarters of all the respondents failed to understand clearly the distinction between ‘peak hours’ and ‘of-peak hours, according to the survey. While 50 percent of the travellers polled agreed that buying a railway ticket at best prices is like winning the lottery. 45 percent of those polled said the pricing system is too complicated for them to understand clearly.

The ORR chairperson, Anna Walker, said, ‘ORR’s revealing research shows that passengers are often confused and frustrated by the lack of information about rail tickets, particularly where and when to get the best value fares and what the best ticket options are. Our research speaks for itself. Nearly 50 percent of passengers surveyed online said that the fares system is too complicated to understand, and 41 percent who had previously purchased a ticket found they could have made the journey on a cheaper ticket.’

SAS Scandinavian Airlines Announces New Route to Poland

SAS Scandinavian Airlines, a Sweden-based airline company, is offering a new route between Denmark, and Poland, from October 29, 2012.

The new route is between Copenhagen, in Denmark, and Lodz, in Poland, and will be operating daily with the exception of Saturdays, with a CRJ200 aircraft offering 50 seats, including Business, Economy Extra and Economy classes. The airline is the first from the Scandinavian region to offer a service to Lodz.

The airline is also offering new routes between the Scandinavian and Polish cities of Stockholm and Gdansk, Oslo and Gdansk, Copenhagen and Gdansk, Copenhagen and Lodz, Copenhagen and Katowice, Copenhagen and Poznan, Copenhagen and Warsaw, and Copenhagen and Wrocla, for a total of 70 weekly direct flights between the two European regions.

All of these routes will become operational from October 29, 2012, offering more connectivity from all across Europe to the destinations served in Poland, through connecting flights with other airlines.

Joakim Landholm, the airline chief commercial officer, said, ‘Poland is an extremely important market to us, considering its proximity to Copenhagen. We can offer a quick direct flight or an easy transfer to all our Polish destinations.

Earlier this year, SAS opened Copenhagen-Katowice and last fall also Stockholm-Gdansk. SAS will now fly to six destinations in Poland, offering eight direct routes from Scandinavia.’

Earlier this month, the airline announced a new route from Birmingham Airport, in the UK, to Stockholm in Sweden.

The new six times-weekly service also commences from October 29, 2012, using B737-600 aircraft with 120 seats.

Brits Prepare to Support Team GB and ParalympicsGB at 2012 London Games

The British public is going to great lengths to give support to their home teams during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

British Airways, a UK-based airline company, has released the results of a survey that shows that British fans are prepared to cancel holiday plans or personal engagements to cheer for Team GB and ParalympicsGB during the summer.

With less than 50 days to go to the official opening of the 2012 Games, around 40 percent of people in Britain have begun to juggle their personal lives and careers to take time off to cheer for the home team. While 10 percent of British people have cancelled their holidays, another 10 percent have postponed their vacation plans, in order to watch the Games.

Ireland is the most enthusiastic region, with around 89 percent of the respondents from the country likely to change holiday plans for the Games, followed by 45 percent of respondents in the East Midlands, and 39 percent of those respondents in London.

Luisa Fernandez, the airline sponsorship manager, said, ‘It’s such a proud time to be British and we’re hoping to get the nation into the spirit by flying hundreds of ex-pats back to the UK to celebrate the summer of sport.

We are immensely proud to support Team GB and ParalympicsGB and will be doing everything we can to rally the nation behind them and give our athletes a home advantage.’

Around 43 percent of the respondents in the age group from 18 to 24 years are of the opinion that the best way to support their home team, is by personally attending events at the Games, while around 50 percent of the respondents in the over 55 age group will be lending their support to the home team in front of their TVs in the comfort of their own homes.

British team fans now have a new mascot to rally around with team GB’s unveiling of Pride the Lion. Pride is primarily white with a red and blue mane and a red and blue tip to his tail. With the team’s logo emblazoned on his body it is hoped that he will become a popular envoy for the British Olympic Association.

Thomas Cook Group Offers Tours to European Music Festivals

Thomas Cook Group Plc, a UK-based travel company, is offering tours to some of Europe’s best music festivals this summer.

The Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen, Denmark, is held every year, and this year it is taking place from July 5 to 8. The company is offering three nights in Denmark for prices starting from £296 per person, for a bed and breakfast stay at the Hotel Danmark in Copenhagen, flying with Easyjet from London Gatwick Airport, departing on July 4, 2012.

The Hultsfred Festival is being held in Stockholm, Sweden, between June 14 and 16, 2012, and features bands including The Cure, The Stone Roses, The XX, and Mumford & Sons. The company is offering a trip to Stockholm for three nights, departing with British Airways from London Heathrow Airport, on June 14, 2012. The trip, inclusive of a stay at the three-star Rex Hotel in Stockholm for bed and breakfast, and airfare, is priced from £390 per person.

The Sonar Festival is being held in Barcelona, Spain, from June 13, 2012, and features artists including Fatboy Slim, Deadmau5, The Roots, and Friendly Fires. The company is offering a trip to Barcelona for three nights, departing with Easyjet from London Stansted Airport, on June 12, 2012. The trip, inclusive of a stay at the two-star Sunotel Junior Hotel in Barcelona, and airfare, is priced from £296 per person.

One of Europe’s major alternative music festivals is Pukklepop, which is held in Belgium, and this year includes performances by the Foo Fighters, Bjork, Bloc Party and the Stone Roses. The company has announced a three-night stay at IBIA Brussels Centre Sainte Catherine in Brussels, and travel on Eurostar trains from London St Pancras railway station, departing August 15, 2012. The tour is priced at £156 per person.

IAG May 2012 Passenger Traffic Affected by Low Growth in Iberia Airline

International Airlines Group (IAG), the UK-based parent company of British Airways, has reported reduced passenger traffic results for May 2012 from its subsidiary airline, Iberia, while premium traffic from another subsidiary, British Airways, has offset the decline.

The company has reported an increase in overall traffic of 6.6 percent, supported by an increase in premium traffic of 1.7 percent during the month, while economy passengers increased by 7.5 percent in May 2012, from May 2011.

The total number of passengers carried in May 2012 has grown by 9.3 percent, to 4.8 million, from that in May 2011, aided by the acquisition of Bmi airlines.

In a statement the company, said, ‘Trends for June appear stronger than those in May. Underlying market conditions at our London Heathrow hub continue to be firm, particularly in long haul premium. However, commercial performance at our Madrid hub has deteriorated further due to the ongoing effects of the Spanish and wider Eurozone macroeconomic conditions and the after-effects of prolonged industrial action.’

The company has been embroiled in a dispute with Iberia pilots, over the launch of its low cost airline, Iberia Express.

Iberia Express is offering new European routes from Madrid (Spain), to Dublin (Ireland) and Naples (Italy), as well as new domestic flights to Fuerteventura, La Palma and Santiago de Compostela, in Spain. It is offering a total of 14 destinations from Madrid, both on international and domestic routes.

Earlier, Ryanair, an Ireland-based low cost airline, had reported a 5 percent increase in May 2012 passenger traffic; and Easyjet, a UK-based airline, has reported 14.4 percent increase in its May 2012 passenger traffic.

Thomas Cook Offers to Test Olympic Knowledge through Smartphone App

Thomas Cook Group Plc, a UK-based travel company, is releasing a new London 2012 Olympic Quiz smartphone app, for fans attending the UK Olympics.

The new smart phone application is designed to test the knowledge of British Olympics fans, and is offering winners of the quiz, tickets for the athletics final, which takes place on August 9, 2012, in the Olympic stadium.

Fans are invited to answer a series of questions to test their Olympic knowledge, with the questions becoming more difficult with each round. The contestants will be judged on correct answers, as well as on the time that they take to answer the questions.

Competitors will be placed in a national league table to compare and choose the winners. Entry for the quiz closes on July 16, 2012. The winners will receive two tickets to the final day of athletics events at the London 2012 Games, as well as tickets to the Men’s 110m semi final and finals.

The smartphone app will also offer information on the company’s London 2012 Games Breaks, which will be providing visitors to the city with accommodation and various amenities while staying in the locality during the Games.

Previously, the company has announced its Best of Britain themed short vacations, as part of its role as official provider of short breaks to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The newly created Games Breaks are designed around the events, which are expected to attract a huge number of international visitors to the city.

Francis Hotel Opens in Bath as Part of MGallery Collection by Accor

The Francis Hotel, which is located in the historic city of Bath, England, has opened on completion of a renovation project.

The hotel was opened to the public on May 28, 2012, as the Francis Hotel Bath, a member of the MGallery collection by Accor, a brand of hotels from Accor, a French hotel company.

MGallery is a portfolio of a luxurious hotels owned by the Accor group, which operates around 4,200 hotels and has 145,000 employees in 90 countries. Each MGallery hotel property is distinct in its features, design, and decor. All MGallery hotels offer their guests the chance to experience a ‘Memorable Moment’, through a special activity intended to provide added guest satisfaction.

The historic Francis Hotel, which neighbours the city’s main attractions, the Roman Baths, Pump Room and Thermal Spa, has undergone a meticulous £6 million refurbishment to provide 98 distinctly styled bedrooms, as well as a luxurious lounge and bar, and a front parlour and breakfast room.

Karen Bassett, the hotel manager, said, ‘We’re very excited about the refurbishment and look forward to welcoming guests to experience our beautiful new hotel. It’s fantastic that the Francis Hotel is being honoured in this way and being brought back to the impeccable standard of its heyday.’

The hotel room rates commence from £109.00 per room, per night.

The Francis Hotel Bath was originally constructed from seven houses, joined to create a hotel by local hotelier, Emily Francis, in 1884. Architectural firm, Househam Henderson, has designed the current hotel interiors.

London 2012 Olympic Games to Use New Technology for Passenger Safety in Public Vehicles

Alexander Dennis (ADL), a bus and coach manufacturer in the UK, and the company responsible for providing public service vehicles for the 2012 Olympic Games, will be using new machine-to-machine technology to improve passenger safety.

The company is partnering with Traffilog, a web-based telematics company, to provide the maximum levels of security and safety for passengers using its fleet of buses.

The Traffilog machine-to-machine solution will also be providing safety and security on the fleet of buses to be operated by Kings Ferry, a UK coach operator with the responsibility for the transportation of police and VIPs during the Games.

The M2M devices feature the GE863-GPS advanced cellular modules, provided by Telit Wireless Solutions, transmitting real-time driver and mechanical performance information to fleet management centres, and allowing authorities to operate the fleet remotely, in case of emergencies.

Yoav Megged, the executive vice president at Traffilog, said, ‘Telit’s GE863-GPS module is a mission-critical component of our application because of its high reliability, ruggedness and quality performance. That’s why we rely on Telit modules for a large percentage of our systems worldwide.’

Dominikus Hierl, the chief marketing officer at Telit Wireless Solutions, said, ‘Traffilog’s application for the Olympic Games proves once again the growing significance of M2M technology and its combined benefits, specifically in the realm of public safety and personal security.’

Safety will be of paramount importance during the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics Games to be held in July and August 2012, and travellers to the city and Olympics venues are asked to comply with the stringent safety policies that are currently being put in place for a safe Games.