Most companies of any size offer a few benefits and perks to their employees. The railway offers more than most. Who wouldn’t want a final salary based pension? They’re hard to come by these days. Some (most? all? I don’t know…) Train Operating Companies also provide a scheme, which I participate in, to buy shares in the business. I buy three shares, two more are thrown in for free. There are conditions, of course, and it really only works if you treat it as a long term deal. But my favourite perk, which works in the here and now, are the travel benefits. I’ve probably touched on this before. But I’m not sure I’ve ever explained the full deal.
I always feel a bit short changed by the interactive travel maps you can fill out on the internet. I’ve spent weeks travelling through exotic locations such as Sri Lanka and Malaysia, with just the faintest of splashes of colour to show for my efforts. My mate goes to St Petersburg for the weekend, and he’s half way done to completing the entire thing. At least the US, Mexico and India added a decent amount of green to my globe.
I had a grand idea some time ago. For several years, London has been wrestling with the issue of air travel to and from the capital. Heathrow and Gatwick are close to capacity. Should a new runway be added to one of those two? Or a new airport be built to the east of the city? I had a better idea. Enlarge Bournemouth airport and have that serve London’s growing needs. There’s plenty of land available and the runway is big enough – Concorde used to land here now and again. Continue reading
In all of my trusty travel guides, mostly Lonely Planet books, there is a handy section about how to get around the town, city or country of your choice. Handy information about the bus service, metro system and rail network. Where they go, how often and what it costs. Handy info that has proven to be invaluable to me time and again, around the world. Handy info that, thanks to technology, is becoming increasingly redundant. Guides of the future will just need to let the traveller know which app based taxi service operates in that part of the world. And the link to the right place in the applicable App Store. Continue reading
We’ve just returned from a jolly jaunt to southern Spain with a quick stop off in Portugal for good measure. It was so nice to be able to just drive 15 minutes up the road to our local airport and not have to endure a three hour trek just to get to Heathrow and Gatwick. British based airlines have particularly thrived in Europe, opening up a huge number of new routes from dozens of regional airports. Intense competition has seen prices kept incredibly low. Thank EU.
I’m not talking about the Peoples Front of Judea. Nor the Judean Peoples Front. Nor even the Judean Popular Peoples Front. Splitters though they all are. I’m talking about RyanAir. The question has recently been asked, are airlines splitting up groups of travellers deliberately in order to make a bit of extra cash by forcing passengers to pay to book specific seats? I can answer that question, with the image above. The answer is yes. I do, after all, have two free seats next to me. Continue reading
The technology might be centuries old. The engines might be hopelessly outdated and unreliable. But there are still plenty of steam powered trains in the UK. Dozens of heritage railways keep the old chuggers chugging. And plenty of people are still enthralled at the concept of burning coal in a boiler to produce sufficient power to propel a lump of metal down a track. Enthralled enough to come out in their dozens to watch one come by.
A steam train came through my station the other day. The photo below may deceive you. Or it may not, depending on your powers of observation. It’s going backwards, not forwards. It had broken down earlier. The paying passengers had to endure the ignominy of being towed by a more modern diesel locomotive, which is out of shot. It didn’t matter to the train spotters though. Of which, it seems, I am now one. Oh, the shame…