Bargain of the week: by train from Washington, Philadelphia or New York to Florida for £13

The great American railroad disaster is Amtrak, which loses far more cash per passenger than even the British rail network. In a desperate search for new customers it is offering spectacularly low fares for people who book at at least two weeks ahead.

On the website, click on "Rail Sale" fares. This will reveal a fairly random selection of routes; what connects them are the ridiculously low prices.

This week Amtrak is offering one-way trips from New York, Washington or Philadelphia to the Florida cities of Orlando, Tampa or Miami for fares ranging from $17.10 (£11) to $21.10 (£13) each way - an extraordinary price for 1,350 miles of rail travel. Return tickets are available at double the one-way fare.

You simply pay with a UK credit card, print out a copy of your booking and turn up at the station. Naturally, at these prices, there is no scope to alter bookings or get a refund.

Innovation of the week: perfect timings

At 10.17am this morning, British Airways flight 8872 is due to depart from the Orkney island of Westray. By 10.19am it should be safely at its destination, Papa Westray. This two-minute hop, the shortest scheduled flight in the world, is just one of almost half a million flights listed in a remarkable pocket-sized guide to European flights.

OAG Express can help with planning and, if things go awry, rescheduling flights. The timetable also lists key long-haul routes, such as BA18 - the 6,744-mile link from Singapore to Heathrow, which takes around 13 hours and is the airline's longest hop.

OAG Express (£6.99) is available from 0870 127 1499 or at

Warning of the week: con-men in India

The US State Department is warning about scams, "particularly in the Jaipur area". It says you should not get involved in gems, gold or expensive carpets, on the pretext of avoiding duty. "The goods are nearly always fake", it warns.