Virgin Trains Announces Standard Class Fare Sale

Virgin Trains, a UK-based train operator, has announced a sale of its standard class fares.

The company is offering up to 50,000 Virgin Trains seats at discounted prices, with prices commencing from £5.50 for a journey between London and Birmingham. The offer is running until January 19, 2012, on a first come, first served basis.

The tickets are for travel between January 21, and March 17, 2013, and may also be purchased online.

The company will be operating around 106 extra carriages on its services, which will add around 30 percent more seats in Standard Class.

Some of the bargain fares include one-way fares from London to Manchester for £10.00; Liverpool £10.00, North Wales £11.00, The Lake District £13.00, and Glasgow £17.00. The tickets on offer are for travel to or from London.

Virgin Trains claims to offer a high speed, high frequency service, and operates the West Coast passenger train franchise via the UK cities of London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and Glasgow. Since its contract expired in 2012, the train company is currently operating the West Coast services on a short-term contract, while the UK government prepares for a fresh round of the bidding process.

Previously, Tony Collins, the chief executive of Virgin Rail Group, the parent company of Virgin Trains, said, ‘I’m delighted that we have an agreement with the Department for Transport that gives us the chance to continue providing high quality services to our customers. We have had great support from staff and customers in recent months and we will repay that loyalty with even better service.

We will not be sitting back in the coming months, but are keen to introduce more improvements to the service, which is already the most popular long-distance service in the country. We are proud of what we have achieved since 1997, but there is undoubtedly more to come and we will work closely with the Department for Transport to bring even better services in future.’

Network Rail Awards Contract for Rail Electrification Project

Network Rail, a company that operates the railway network in the UK, has recently awarded a ten-year contract for the supply of low carbon electricity for the UK’s electrified rail network.

The contract has been awarded to UK based EDF Energy, who will be providing around 3.2TWh of electricity a year to power the rail network as it carries three million passengers and thousands of tons of freight per day.

David Higgins, the chief executive officer for Network Rail, said, ‘Rail is already the greenest form of public transport and this partnership with EDF Energy will help us make it greener still. Our work to electrify hundreds of miles of railway represents the biggest programme of rail electrification in a generation and will provide faster, quieter and more reliable journeys for millions of passengers every week while cutting the cost of the railway.

Thanks to a firm commitment from government to invest in electrification schemes across the country, we are transforming the railway and providing Britain with a sustainable, world-class transport system that is fit for the future.

This innovative contract for low-carbon energy will provide excellent value to the rail industry and means we are not only providing a greener railway, but also a better value railway for Britain.’

Vincent de Rivaz, the chief financial officer at EDF Energy, said, ‘Network Rail is the biggest single electricity customer in the UK so this long term deal is a massive vote of confidence in our nuclear-backed energy. Rail is already one of the least carbon intensive ways to travel and the huge investment in electrification will be backed by a stable and affordable supply of low carbon energy.

The deal places nuclear energy at the heart of the UK’s infrastructure for the next 10 years and serves to underline that nuclear power is part of everyday life in Britain. It’s a big boost for EDF Energy following our success in winning the supply contract for the UK Government – which includes the NHS, Highways Agency and the Metropolitan Police – along with a deal agreed last year to supply the majority of Scotland’s public bodies.’

EDF Energy will ensure that 100 percent of the electricity it supplies to Network Rail will be matched by low carbon energy generated from its eight nuclear power stations.

Air Berlin Announces Jobs Cuts

Airberlin, a Germany-based airline company, is aiming for a job cut of around 900 employees.

The airline, which is suffering from financial losses, expects to cut costs and improve its financials through the job cuts, which are part of its new transformation plan, Turbine.

The airline, in a statement, said, ‘The negotiations for the restructuring programme and the planned personnel measures with the staff committees are already in place. The management of Air Berlin will implement ‘turbine’, together with the employees and in a constructive dialogue with employee representatives and those discussions in the coming months to give the highest priority.

The programme covers all business sectors and thus the relations with our business partners. Also including a reduction of about 900 jobs is provided, with compulsory redundancies can not be excluded.’

The airline is planning to develop its hubs at Berlin and Dusseldorf further to offer more long haul routes. It will also be retaining its operations at the airports of Vienna, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and Zurich as its core stations within the network, after the transformation process.

In December 2012, airberlin increased its load by 3.1% compared to the same period in 2011, with a decrease in capacity by 12.1% to 2,375,083 seats over the respective months.

The airline is partly (29%) owned by Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airways, and only last week saw the appointment of former Bmi chief, Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, as its new chief executive officer.

The airline is planning to reduce its fleet from a current level of 158 aircraft to 142 in next two years.

In the UK, the airline is offering services to London Stansted, Guernsey, Jersey, and Manchester.

Remain Careful on Roads in Freezing Winter Conditions, Advices Car Rental Companies

With January temperatures in the UK freezing, travellers using the roads have to be doubly careful while driving on treacherous terrain.

-Here are some winter driving tips:

-Keep time in hand for long distance drives, to avoid unnecessary hurries.

-Slow down in icy conditions for better control of the car, and allow longer distances to brake.

-Control skidding on ice by releasing the accelerator, and not braking.

-Be careful of shaded roads, which may hide icy road conditions.

-Wear sunglasses to avoid being blinded by the sun reflected on ice.

-Remain extra vigilant on roads and look out for pedestrians and cyclists, who could be experiencing similar difficulties.

In response, Europcar is urging motorists to think about the option of hiring a suitable car instead of relying on driving their own vehicle, for extra peace of mind.

Ken McCall, the managing director of Europcar UK Group, a company offering car hire services in Europe, said, ‘Driving conditions are more challenging during colder weather, with the risk of snow, fog and ice. That’s why it’s more important than ever to be driving a car in which you have confidence.

We are, therefore, encouraging people doing longer journeys over the winter months to think about car hire from Europcar. It offers travellers the assurance that they are in a reliable vehicle that has been fully maintained with all essential items, such as tyres, regularly checked. Plus Europcar vehicles are fully covered by 24 hour roadside assistance, at no extra cost.’

Car hire companies are offering vehicles that are de-iced and doubly checked for safety standards, with qualified staff members offering tips to handle a rented vehicle in difficult driving conditions for visitors to the UK.

Ken McCall says, ‘Our goal at Europcar is to give motorists the very best quality vehicles, ensuring they can drive confidently and safely in any weather. We are, therefore, well prepared for the next few weeks with good availability of vehicles right across the country.’

Ryanair Announces New Bases at Fez and Marrakech

Ryanair, an Ireland-based low cost airline, has announced two new bases to open in Morocco in 2013.

The two new bases will be opening at Fez and Marrakech, which will be hosting a total of three aircraft, and the company is planning to invest around £130 million in Morocco for developing the facilities.

The airline has also announced two new destinations in Morocco, Essaouira and Rabat, adding the total destinations in Morocco to eight, and offering around 60 routes to the country in 2013. The new facilities developed in Morocco are likely to generate around 2,500 jobs for around 2.5m passengers expected to travel through the country in Ryanair flights.

The airline head of communications, Stephen McNamara, said, ‘Ryanair is delighted to announce our first two bases in Morocco at Fez (No 56) and Marrakech (No 57) and to launch 2 new Morocco airports at Essaouira and Rabat, with flights starting in April. To celebrate our new Moroccan bases and airports, we are launching a 100,000 seat sale with fares starting from €15 for travel across Europe in February and March. Seats at these crazy low prices will be snapped up quickly, so we urge passengers to book them immediately on”

Dr Lahcen Haddad, the minister of tourism of the Kingdom of Morocco, said, ‘The Moroccan tourism sector is very proud of the confidence Ryanair is showing in the capacity of the Moroccan destination to grow and develop to become a leading market in the Mediterranean region.

This long-term commitment, as shown in the implementation of two bases in Fez and Marrakesh, and the opening of two new destinations (Essaouira and Rabat), is the first stage of a comprehensive strategy aiming, for Ryanair, to build a profitable business based on the huge growth potential of Moroccan tourism, as planned within the framework of Vision 2020.’