Make tracks for a half- price rail staycation!
Chalkmarks: Marylebone Station, London

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 22nd April 2022

If you have the Bank Holiday blues and want to plan trip, you don’t have to wait. The Government has signalled that staycations are back on with its one million half-price train ticket sale announcement this week.
If you’re an office worker you know all about expensive commuter season tickets and crowded trains that run late, and get pulled out of service at a moment’s noticed. We’ve been there.
But if you’re travelling on a weekend break to Cambridge, on an advance ticket, they are as cheap as chips. The carriages are quiet and the services (seemingly) run on time and whizz through the country. We’ve been there too.
Trains are brilliant. With almost 2,570 stations across the UK you can go anywhere. They can take you out into the countryside, drop you in the heart of a city, or leave you at the beach. You’re in for a treat. Here’s what made the travel headlines this week.

Ticketee-boo!

Cheap seats: On Tuesday morning the announcement arrived that more than one million train tickets have gone on sale at half price for the rest of April and throughout much of May in the Great British Train Sale. A one-way ticket from London to Edinburgh will drop from £44 to £22. Book here.

Trailer alert: Here is the Transport Minister Grant Shapps promoting the campaign in a government video over on Twitter. He uses different props to talk about trips to Edinburgh, Cornwall, the Lake District and London while music plays in the background. Many thought it was “cringe”, Sky News said it was “bizarre”.

Why now: Mr Shapps said the Rail Sale would help families struggling with rising bills during the cost-of-living crisis, and to help boost staycations. Referring to the pandemic, he said: “We’ve had two years of living life virtually. It is time to get real and visit our beautiful country.” The scheme though has been criticised for not helping commuters who pay sky-high prices to travel during the week – and these journeys are not part of the five-week sale. ITV had the story.

Terms and conditions apply: The Great British Train Sale is not available on all trains or on all routes. Tickets went on sale on Tuesday (19 April) and are available until 27th May. By Wednesday 170,000 tickets had been soldSimon Calder explains how it works. And he says first class tickets are included. The Sun has a list of train companies that are taking part.

Add to basket: ScotRail also announced its own bargain train promotion with its Half Price Seat Sale. The train company is offering 50 per cent off on off-peak services on weekdays between 9th May to 15th May in Scotland. This will cut the cost of a trip from Glasgow to Edinburgh to £9.55. Book here.

Making connections: If you need any rail inspiration follow Vicki Pipe and Geoff Marshall as they visited every single station in the country in 15 weeks, in 2017, and wrote the popular book The Railway Adventure. They can suggest trips from Penzance in Cornwall to Wick in the far north of Scotland and everything in between. They even provide useful lists about which stations are closest to beaches – that’ll be St Ives, Cornwall, and Whitby in Yorkshire.

Holiday in Wales: The first thing we noticed when we arrived at Swansea train station was that the signs and announcement were in Welsh. It felt like a great adventure. This Welsh city has a glorious coastline, a rich history and, for the best food head to the main market. We feasted on fresh seafood and Welsh cakes – and we dare you to try the laverbread. See here. We travelled with Great Western Railways which is currently offering 50 per cent off.

Not on board: On Thursday came news that rail workers were planning a national strike this summer over job cuts and pay freezes. The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union warned that if members voted in favour of industrial action it would be “the biggest rail strike in modern history”. The vote ends on 24th May.

Go, go, go: Eurostar has also announced a summer sale with tickets down to £39 from London to Paris. You have to think quick as the sale ends on Tuesday (26th April) for trips booked between 4th May to 24th August. The Londonist has the details.

Meanwhile: In the US, the wearing of face masks on flights has been dropped and instead becomes a personal choice, which means passengers on flights between American and Britain no longer have to cover their faces. The Sun has the details.

Go Beyond: Celebrity Cruises has been buzzing on Twitter that its newest billion-dollar ship arrived in Southampton, on Thursday. The liner sets sail for its maiden voyage on 27th April. Chalkmarks has been invited by Celebrity friends to take a first look at Beyond for its launch weekend starting tomorrow. It’s a tough gig but someone has to go. Watch out for a full report next week. We were at the steel cutting ceremony in 2020.

Entry fee: Daytrippers to Venice will start paying a €10 (£8.30) entry fee, The Guardian reported. As tourism to the city returns, authorities want to control the numbers of visitors to around 50,000 a day. During the Easter weekend numbers reached 125,000. Booking and charging will start in June, and be trialled for six months. 

Spread the word: The Florence Nightingale Museum, in London, is reopening next month having struggled during the pandemic. The Victorian nurse transformed nursing and tended to wounded soldiers during the Crimean War which started in 1853. Inside, you’ll get to see the lamp she carried around while visiting hospitals – which inspired her the nickname the Lady of the Lamp. Marking her legacy, the museum is set to open on 12th May – on what would have been Florence’s 202nd year. The Evening Standard ran the story.

Building Bridges: Two timber bridges are set to be built to cope with the rising numbers of tourists visiting the stunning waterfalls at Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye. They’ve become so popular, it’s been reported that newlyweds have risked their lives to get wedding pictures from the beauty spot. The Scotsman said the new bridges will mean people won’t have to use stepping stones across the water.

Happy #EarthDay

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