Something To Declare: Trains to Greece; Tokyo in the spring; students save on buses; biking South-east
Saturday 15 January 2011
Warning of the week: Trains to, and in, Greece
All international trains to and from Greece have been cancelled, along with two-thirds of the 2,500km Greek rail network. Services from Thessaloniki to the Macedonian, Bulgarian and Turkish borders have been axed, together with many local trains – including the scenic Pelopponese lines. The main line between Athens and Thessalonika will remain open, together with the branch to Kalambaka for the monasteries of Meteora.
"For the first time in a century, Greece will be cut off from the rest of the European rail network," says the rail expert Mark Smith of the website Seat61.com.
Fares on the surviving lines have been doubled or trebled; every euro paid by passengers has hitherto been subsidised by a further €2 – and Greek Railways has debts amounting to €10bn.
Destination of the week: Tokyo in the spring
Air fares to the Japanese capital have traditionally been much higher than to other Asian cities, such as Singapore and Hong Kong. But this winter Tokyo's Haneda airport is opening up to international flights. Several airlines – including BA – have chosen to add new flights to Haneda rather than simply switch them from the current gateway, Narita airport.
As capacity increases, fares to Narita are falling. For travel in March, Air France has a fare of around £520 return from Birmingham or Manchester via Paris to Narita. Fares from Heathrow and London City on the French carrier are about £10 higher.
The cheapest non-stop is on Virgin Atlantic, for about £650 return.
Bargain of the week: Students save on buses
Greyhound UK has promised a 35 per cent discount for all students travelling this year.
The bus line runs high-spec services between London and a range of destinations in Hampshire, together with a Cardiff-Swansea link. This week it also launched an overnight "sleeper" bus between Glasgow and London, with fares starting at £1 each way (plus a 50p booking fee).
To benefit from the student discount, you book in the normal way at greyhounduk. com, then add the promotion code "university". To avoid misuse of the discount, you must show a valid student card when boarding the bus.
Tip of the week: Biking South-east
The Centurion Way is not an old Roman Road, but a new bike trail that follows an old railway line north from Chichester. It is one of 26 routes through Sussex, Kent, Surrey and some London parks that are featured in the new and richly illustrated Cycling Days Out – South East England by Deirdre Huston (Vertebrate Publishing, £14.95). The maps are sourced from the Ordnance Survey.
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