There was an “extraordinary complacency about protecting the interests of passengers” among rail bosses, regulators and government officials, notes a damning report on the summer railway shambles, which featured 46,300 timetable changes. Additionally there was a “collective system-wide failure” and a decision-making process that was “not fit for purpose”, one that has now decided that it’s a good time to hike up fares again for captive commuters.

Of course those who rely on the railways to do their jobs don’t need to be told this. They know and they are angry. And one deserving focus of their anger is Govia Thameslink Railway, (GTR) which axed 470 of its 3,880 daily services.

The fallout continues, with GTR, which runs Thameslink, Great Northern and Southern railways, now coming across as a disreputable firm that cannot be trusted to put its wrongs right. We say this noting that passengers completing large numbers of claim forms for Delay Repay compensation, based on the large numbers of delayed journeys they have suffered are being accused of fraud by GTR, presumably to wriggle out of payment. The same nasty taste in the mouth is left noting the claim experience of others who have had their claim forms returned by GTR instructing them to supply details for “journey 1” when “journey 1” doesn’t appear anywhere on the claim form. One victim we know of several unjustified refusals of this kind for the same claim has now been told that the claim has been denied because the delays to its processing, caused by GTR, has put the claim outside the 28-day period for claiming. Clever or stupid?

One potentially good piece of news for passengers who don’t feel their complaints are being treated with the respect due is the creation of a new independent dispute resolution ombudsman for the railways with the power to hold train companies to account and force them out of their “extraordinary complacency”.

Let’s all hope it works, especially at GTR, where the CEO is Patrick Verwer, [email protected]


Impressed to note that charity Diabetes UK has just won the award from the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) for the best conference staged by an in-house conference team, beating the two other shortlisted teams at Renewable UK and the Royal Statistical Society. The Diabetes UK event took place at Excel in March this year and team leader Therese Dolan commented that her team “worked incredibly hard to deliver this year’s event” and that she was “so proud to see them rewarded for all their effort and dedication”.

Rather less impressive for many is the curious decision by Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK to accept sponsorship of £500,000 from Britvic, makers of the Pepsi and Tango fizzy drinks, like those that Diabetes UK has identified in the past as contributing to the diabetes explosion.

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An estimated 500 million people who booked a Starwood branded hotel in the last four years have been affected by a massive data breach announced by Marriott.

Starwood properties impacted are Aloft, Design Hotels, Element, Four Points by Sheraton, Le Meridien, The Luxury Collection, St. Regis, Sheraton, Tribute Portfolio, W Hotels and Westin. Those booking these properties in the last four years are being advised to change their password for their Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards Program immediately, review their banking and credit card accounts for suspicious activity, consider a credit freeze if concerned about their financial information being compromised and to be alert for any emails supposedly from Marriott that might have been sent by cybercriminals looking to exploit the breach.

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o Plans are in hand for a new, 150-bedroom hotel in Church Street, Liverpool (The Business Desk)

This will be located on the upper floors of the George Henry Lee building, used by John Lewis until they moved to Liverpool One shopping precinct in 2008 and with the ground floor currently occupied by a mix of retailers, including TKMaxx, Rapid Discount and Poundland.

o The 334-bedroom Hotel Russell on London’s Russell Square “needs to sort itself out” according to a recent Daily Mail’s An Inspector Calls feature. This gave the hotel two stars out of five, citing “sloppy service” in the Neptune Restaurant – though “surprisingly good” food – small expensive rooms at £299 each, plus breakfast, a receptionist who knew nothing about parking in the area and “nothing in the way of atmosphere”.

The hotel enjoyed an £85 million refurbishment last year and is, after a spell as a Principal Hotel, now managed by IHG and Covivio, under the Kimpton name, as the Kimpton Fitzroy London.


A Japan Airlines pilot who was attempting to fly his Boeing 777 while more than nine times over the legal limit of alcohol in the blood has been jailed for ten months.

Katsutoshi Jitsukawa, 42, admitted to Isleworth Crown Court that he had been drinking whisky the night before his flight to Tokyo was due to take off at 7.00pm from Heathrow the day after. Security staff noticed he smelt of alcohol and was swaying as he was taken to his aircraft. Police were called and arrested him while he was working in the cockpit on pre-flight checks 50 minutes before take off. A blood sample showed a level of 189 mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood – the limit for a pilot is 20 mg.


A Bristol restaurant has won the number one spot in the Harden’s 100 Best UK Restaurants list for this year.

The food at Casamia, The General in Guinea Street has been described as “a carefully constructed, gorgeously presented, technically skilful and above all thoroughly flavoursome journey through a series of seasonal ingredients” by one of Harden’s 5,000 reporters, experiencing the multi-course tasting menu for £100 plus.

The list comprised 49 restaurants in London and 51 outside the capital with modern British and French cuisines predominating.


o Centaur Media, publishers of Marketing Week are looking to sell The Meetings Show, the July event launched in 2012 and described as “the leading event in the inbound and outbound meetings industry in the UK”. Also up for sale is The Business Travel Show and Centaur’s long established magazine, The Lawyer.

o After 13 years as editor of Conference News Paul Colston has left to work on Mash Media’s international titles, and is replaced by Martin Fullard, who has worked under Colston for the last two and a half years.


Inga is the maliciously evil neighbour from hell in this dark and affecting cautionary tale of suburban warfare escalating out of control between residents of suburban Reykjavic, Iceland, but it could happen anywhere.

The trouble starts when Inga’s next door neighbours, Eybjorg and her husband Konrad, find that the large tree in Inga’s garden casts a long shadow in theirs, and makes it difficult for Eybjorg to sunbathe on her patio, poor dear, so she sends Konrad over to ask Inga if her husband Baldwin could trim the tree and give them more sunlight. Inga responds by telling Eybjorg to just move out of the tree’s shadow if she wants to sunbathe and then throws at her some faeces that Eybjorg’s dog Askur has deposited in her garden, fortunately wrapped. You then gradually realise, as things escalate, that Inga is becoming unhinged, and learn that one reason could be the loss of her favourite son of two, Uggi, who disappeared a few years back, rumoured to be a suicide.

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