Earlier in the month, LNER announced the start of a simpler fares pilot to proceed for two years from 2024-02-05. Only three kinds of fare are available and both Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak fares are unavailable.
Flexibility continues in the form of Anytime tickets with Advance ticket being the most restricted. There is a new semi-flexible offering called 70min Flex that allows travel on any service departing within 70 minutes of the booked departure.
Thankfully, flexibility remains for walk-on passengers despite some appearing to want a book-ahead railway. Apps may be a workaround, but there is something about turning up and going that is so precious.
The RMT union has announced two two-day work stoppages for 2024-02-19 to 2024-02-20 and 2024-03-04 to 2024-03-05, respectively. Like other strikes, this again is related to pay increases that the union complains are not keeping pace with inflation.
The dispute between LNER and ASLEF over the application of the minimal service legislation has reduced enough to allow cancellation of strike action and overtime bans during the week commencing 2024-02-05. The strikes and overtime bans for every other English train operator between 2024-01-29 and 2024-02-06 remain in place.
Skiing season is well under way in the Canadian Rockies, so Golden Shuttle is offering services between Calgary Airport and Golden and between Golden and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Timetables are online too for you to check when buses depart and arrive. If they did something similar during the hiking season, that would be of keen interest to me as a non-driver.
Two D&G Bus services are changing on 2024-02-05. Bus times during the middle of the day on weekdays remain unchanged. Specific details follow.
31 Crewe - Northwich: Some morning weekday journeys run earlier, and some afternoon journeys run later, as extra time is allowed where they have been experiencing traffic congestion, particularly around Leighton Hospital and Winsford. There is now an additional weekday evening journey between Winsford and Crewe. All Saturday bus times are unchanged.
37 Northwich - Crewe: Some morning weekday journeys run earlier, and some afternoon journeys run later, as extra time is allowed where they have been experiencing traffic congestion, particularly around Sandbach and Winsford. Some early evening journeys that currently terminate in Sandbach have been extended to Crewe. Apart from one early evening journey between Winsford and Sandbach, all Saturday bus times are unchanged.
In Japan, there is what they call a new Golden Route between Tokyo and Osaka that goes via Hokuriku on the Japan Sea coast. This is for use by tourists when exploring the area served by the new link and there even is a multi-day travel pass, the Hokuriku Arch Pass. This is cheaper to buy outside of Japan, so the target market appears to be visitors from overseas.
ASLEF announced strike action for the following train operators and days:
2024-01-30 - Gatwick Express, Great Northern, SWR, Southeastern, Southern, Thameslink
2024-01-31 - Northern, TransPennine Express
2024-02-02 - c2c, Greater Anglia, LNER
2024-02-03 - Avanti West Coast, EMR, London Northwestern Railway, West Midlands Railway
2024-02-05 - Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, GWR
2024-02-05 to 2024-02-09 - LNER
An overtime ban also will affect these train operators between 2024-01-29 and 2024-02-06. For LNER, there will be another overtime ban between 2024-02-07 and 2024-02-10.
Recently, I had a journey with EMR go wrong because of a train breakdown. Only shortly beyond Sheffield station, we had to turn back, and the journey was delayed by around an hour. When I came to claim compensation for the delay, the process was straightforward thanks to having PDF copies of the tickets. It also was very prompt with the money going back into my PayPal account. Though the journey had not been the best, the customer service afterwards cannot be faulted.
The RMT dispute with the English train operators has ended while other negotiations continue. The legislation for minimum service levels is coming into effect too. However, the ongoing ASLEF actions continue and more could follow. How things will look around Christmas and New Year remains to be seen. There is more hope than this time year, though.
Here is a brighter place on the web to go looking: Sardinia’s Green Train. The website is in Italian, but we have translation tools for the likes of that these days. The routes go through a scenic sun-blessed island in the Mediterranean that may offer a much-needed mid-winter escape.