British nationals evacuated from Libya

The vast majority of British nationals, who wished to leave Libya following the recent unrest, have now been evacuated.

Many left on the commercial flights that are still running, with government charters and military evacuations also contributing to the mass departure.

Three British military transport planes evacuated 150 people from areas in the Libyan Desert. Including British people and those from other countries, the civilians were eager to leave the country following the uprising.

“Three Royal Air Force C130 Hercules aircraft have successfully evacuated around a further 150 civilians from multiple locations in the eastern Libyan Desert,” defense secretary Liam Fox said. Numerous other nations have also been evacuating foreigners by air and sea.

Hundreds of migrants left on a Greek ship on Sunday, mostly from from Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand, Portugal, the Netherlands and Britain – docked at the port of Piraeus near Athens.

However as many as 100,000 migrants, mostly from Egypt, are stranded on the Libyan border with Tunisia. Increasing with up to 1000 arrivals every hour, UN officials said.

Tunisian officials are under pressure to deal with with the arrival of so many, especially with the country having just undergone its own revolution.

With food and water supplies becoming limited, many more evacuees are still at Tripoli International Airport, where the Turkish embassy has now taken over from the British Embassy.

Half term holiday rip-off

Restricted to half term holidays, many families are likely to pay a premium of more than 50% to go away this year, holiday operators say it’s just supply and demand.

Taking advantage of parents, businesses have put the cost of some holidays up by more than £1000. Under the Governments new academy programme, head teachers could be given the power to shift term dates to give parents the option to go on holiday without being over charged.

Some of the worst culprits were holidays to Lanzarote, traveling from London, with one example at a popular four-star resort increasing its price during half term by a ridiculous £4,619, the holiday went from costing £1,720 to £6, 339.

Although parents can now be fined for taking their children out of school during term time, the fine of £50 or £100 is a lot less than the enormous increase in holiday prices over school breaks and many families have said they would be prepared to pay the fine that by far outweighs the peak time holiday costs. There is likely to be a rise in families who break this rule, feeling the increase in general living costs, this year those who cant afford peak rates may opt for paying the fine and getting away on a cheap off peak holiday.

In England from September 2009- September 2010, 21,000 penalty notices were given for unauthorised absences, a rise of 17% from two years before.

Rail tickets – 50per cent of advice is wrong

Over half of all official advice given to passengers about rail tickets is incorrect, according to an investigation by a watchdog.

Passengers looking to find the cheapest ticket, either from a clerk at a station or from National Rail Enquiries, the telephone helpline, were recurrently given the wrong information about how to save money. In some cases passengers could have ended up spending over 100GBP more than they needed to.

The investigation by Which? found the structure remained difficult, and confusing despite frequent complaints from passenger groups.

In some cases staff didn’t even know some money-saving fares existed, it appeared.

Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, says: “Train operators seem blind to the fact that their ticketing systems are too complicated – if people who do this for a living can’t find the cheapest fare, what hope do passengers have?”

“We’d like to see much clearer signposting to help passengers find the best deals available, whether they’re buying tickets online, over the phone or at a station.”

The study involved covert researchers visiting railway stations over the whole of England asking for tickets for 15 different scenarios, including basic trips and more complicated multiple journeys. Each scenario was repeated five times at different stations and five times at National Rail Enquiries.

Station clerks gave the wrong advice 59pc of the time; National Rail Enquiries gave inaccurate information 43pc of the time.

Station clerks often struggled with questions about cheaper or slower routes, giving the right answer on just three out of forty occasions.

The complex fare structure of train journeys has been the irritation of passengers for a long time. Three years ago found that on some routes there were 30 different fares for a single journey.

The study pointed out that passengers were even more infuriated to be given incorrect advice at a time when ticket prices have been increasing far faster than inflation. Since 1995 train tickets have gone up in price by 47pc above the rate of inflation.

Alexandra Woodsworth, Campaign for Better Transport’s public transport campaigner, said: “Train passengers shouldn’t have to work so hard to find a decent value fare. There is little point in having cheap fares on offer if the system is so complicated that even ticket office staff can’t help you find them, and it certainly doesn’t make up for the extremely high prices at the other end of the scale.