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Network rail expands graduate program

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200px-NetworkRailVector.svgNETWORK RAIL is increasing its investment in the talent of the future by raising the number of places available on its graduate and work placement schemes by over 40% in Wales, the firm has said. With a plan to spend £38bn on running, maintaining and improving Britain’s railways over the next five years, the company is looking to recruit 145 graduates – up from 100 last year – to join its 2015 graduate scheme and help build a bigger, better railway for Britain.

Around a third of the places will be open to those with engineering degrees, with the company keen to attract people from a wide mix of academic backgrounds for the remainder. As well as opportunities in engineering (civil, mechanical and electrical or electronic), graduates can apply for jobs in general management, finance, property, strategic planning, supply chain, business technology and project management, with positions available all over Britain. A further 40 places are available on the company’s one-year work placement scheme.

Open to secondyear undergraduates, the scheme gives students the chance to obtain invaluable exposure to the workplace which will stand them in good stead as they apply for jobs on completion of their degrees. Sian Lewis joined the operations and customer services graduate scheme in Cardiff after graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in history in 2007.

She told The Herald: “The year on the scheme gave me a wealth of experience in different areas – train punctuality, signalling and how we deal with bad weather as well as,time spent with maintenance out on track and with train operating companies.Since then, I have worked in project management in track renewals. Today, I am accountable for a £27m programme of enhancements to improve stations and make journeys faster and more reliable. “As graduates we are actively encouraged to move around the business and get as much experience as possible. The variety really appeals to me – no two days are ever the same and you really feel like you are making a difference. You are given responsibility early on and are supported to grow and improve throughout your career.” Applications for next year’s schemes must be submitted by midday on Monday 29 December 2014.

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The Lord Nelson Hotel faces an uncertain future as popular venue closes its doors

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THE LORD NELSON HOTEL in Milford Haven will be closing on Tuesday night, with nothing set in stone as to when it could re-open again.

The iconic Grade II listed building, on Hamilton Terrace, is currently up for sale by current owners SA Brain & Co., and no buyer has yet been found.

The management of the 24-en-suite rooms hotel posted on Monday night (Sept 26) saying: “I write this with a very heavy heart, tomorrow night (Tuesday) will be our last night open for the bar.

“We haven’t got a lot of draught beers left but I would love to see all your faces for one last time.

“Thank you for all of the support you’ve shown us during the time we’ve been here and I hope we get to open again in the future. All our love, Chey, Cauley and the Lord Nelson team.”

Built 1795-1800 during the first phase of the construction of the new town of Milford Haven, the hotel was originally named the New Inn, but was later renamed for Lord Nelson’s visit in August 1802.

It has been Grade II listed since 1993.

In 2016 there were extensive renovations.

In advertising literature around that time Brains explained: “Overlooking the harbour we offer a range of high-quality pub classics and an indulgent selection of grills, sure to please the whole family.

“Our bar is home to regular live music events and is often the social hub of the town.

“Our award-winning Welsh cask ales take pride of place on the pumps, surrounded by a wide range of draught beers and ciders, ideal to enjoy in our beautiful beer garden overlooking the port or in our recently refurbished restaurant.”

DID YOU KNOW?

In 1879 members of Milford Haven’s “elite” became some of the first in Wales to dance under electric light.

A grand ball was organised in The Lord Nelson Hotel by engineers from the dock company.

The British Electric Light Company, which was illuminating construction works in the harbour, lit the hotel’s ballroom for the event. Many of the “young ladies” were nervous about the lights’ intensity but soon everyone agreed that the beautiful, steady lighting enhanced the evening’s pleasures.

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Transport for Wales services to be impacted by industrial action

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THE MAJORITY of Transport for Wales (TfW) services across the Wales and Borders network will be suspended on two days in October due to the on-going national industrial action.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT) has announced two days of strike action will take place on Saturday 1 and Saturday 8 October, across Network Rail and 15 train operators.

ASLEF has also announced strike action on Saturday 1 and Wednesday 5 October across 12 train operators, while TSSA have announced strike action on 1 October at Network Rail and 11 train operators.

TfW is not involved in this industrial action, but as a result of the dispute between unions and Network Rail, TfW will be unable to operate a number of rail services on Network Rail infrastructure on 1 and 8 October, while some services will be much busier than usual on 5 October.

More information about the industrial action can be found on the TfW website.

Saturday 1 and Saturday 8 October – very limited rail service, do not travel by train

The only services operating will be on the Core Valley Lines in South Wales and a Cardiff to Newport shuttle, with one train operating hourly in each direction, between 07:30 and 18:30.

No other TfW services across Wales and the Borders network will be able to operate.

Train services will operate between Cardiff Central and Rhymney, Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil in an hourly service in each direction between 07:30 and 18:30.

Customers are reminded there will be very limited road transport capacity between Radyr and Cardiff before 07:30 and after 18:30, when TfW is unable to operate trains via Llandaf and Cathays.

Amended timetables for Saturday 1 October will be in online journey planners from Tuesday 27 September.

Friday 30 September and Friday 7 October (the days before the strikes)

There is also expected to be disruption on the days prior to the industrial action, and services will be much busier than usual.

Customers are advised to only travel if necessary on Friday 30 September and 7 October, and to check online journey planners for any short-notice late night service alterations as a result of the following day’s strike action.

Core Valley Lines­ – Saturday 1 and Saturday 8 October

The first services of the day that depart Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil will all be timed so they will be arriving into Radyr after 07:00. No trains will run before 07:00 on any lines except between Treherbert, Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil – Radyr.

No pre-planned road transport services will be in operation before 18:30 on Core Valley lines.

Services are likely to be much busier than usual – particularly the first services of the day.

All other TfW services – Sunday 2 and 9 October

No trains will run before 07:00 on these days, and those trains that do run are likely to be much busier than usual – particularly the first services of the day. There is also expected to be disruption to services due to trains being displaced from the previous day’s strike action.

In particular, services to Cardiff are expected to be busier than usual on the morning on 2 October due to the Cardiff Half-Marathon.

Customers are urged to check the TfW website, app or social media before they travel, particularly for the first services of the day from their station of origin.

Services on these days are to be extremely busy and customers are encouraged to travel via the alternative dates of Monday 3 or 10 October.

Wednesday 5 October

Some of our services are likely to be extremely busy as a result of the severely-reduced timetable put in place by other operators. This includes:

  • Services between Carmarthen and Newport
  • Services between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton
  • Services between Cardiff and Cheltenham
  • Services between Chester and Holyhead
  • Services between Chester and Manchester Airport
  • Services between Crewe and Manchester Piccadilly
    Due to the closure of Birmingham New Street station, services between North Wales and Birmingham International will terminate at Wolverhampton.

Customers are advised to only travel if necessary and customers are encouraged to travel via the alternative dates of Tuesday 4 or Thursday 6 October.

Amended timetables for Wednesday 5 October will be in online journey planners from Thursday 29 September.

Existing tickets

Advance ticket holders are entitled to change their journey using the ‘Book with Confidence’ and the change of journey fees should be waived if applied before 18:00 the day before travel. You’re still able to change your tickets after this time, and up until the departure, but a change of journey fee of £10 will apply to each ticket changed.

Customers with Anytime, Off-Peak or Advance tickets, also Ranger/Rover tickets, for a TOC on strike – dated for 1, 5 or 8 October are permitted to travel either on the day before the date on the ticket or up to 11 October 2022.

If you have a return ticket and cannot make your outward journey because of a strike, you’re permitted a refund on your ticket even if the latter is not affected by a strike. The same applies if the return journey is affected by a strike but the outward was not.

Alternatively, customers can claim a full refund, with no admin fee charged. Season ticket holders can apply for compensation via Delay Repay.

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Jacob Rees Mogg: Galvanises businesses with action on energy

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Westminster unveils energy support for businesses

NON WEDNESDAY, September 21, the UK Government announced new support for households, businesses and public sector organisations facing rising energy bills in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Through a new government Energy Bill Relief Scheme, the government will provide a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices for all non-domestic customers (including all UK businesses, the voluntary sector like charities and the public sector such as schools and hospitals) whose current gas and electricity prices have been significantly inflated in light of global energy prices.


The support will be equivalent to the Energy Price Guarantee put in place for households.


It will apply to fixed contracts agreed on or after April 1, 2022, and to deemed variable and flexible tariffs and contracts.


The Price Guarantee will apply to energy usage from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2023, running for an initial six-month period for all non-domestic energy users.


The savings will be first seen in October bills, which are typically received in November.


As with the Energy Price Guarantee for households, customers do not need to take action or apply to the scheme to access the support.


Support (in the form of a p/kWh discount) will automatically be applied to bills.

RISK OF BUSINESSES MISSING OUT

The price reduction level for each business will vary depending on their contract type and circumstances.


Non-domestic customers on existing fixed-price contracts will be eligible for support as long as the contract was agreed on or after April 1, 2022.


Provided that the wholesale element of the price the customer is paying is above the Government Supported Price, per unit energy costs will automatically be reduced by the relevant p/kWh for the duration of the Scheme.


Customers entering new fixed price contracts after October 1 will receive support on the same basis
those on default, deemed, or variable tariffs will receive a per-unit discount on energy costs, up to a maximum of the difference between the Supported Price and the average expected wholesale price over the period of the Scheme.


Non-domestic customers on default or variable tariffs will therefore pay reduced bills, but these will still change over time and may still be subject to price increases.


The government is working with suppliers to ensure all their customers in England, Scotland and Wales are allowed to switch to a fixed contract/tariff for the duration of the scheme if they wish, underpinned by the government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme support for businesses on flexible purchase contracts, typically some of the largest energy-using businesses.


The government will provide equivalent support for businesses not connected to the gas or electricity grid. Further detail on this will be announced shortly.

SUPPORT MUST AVOID
THE CLIFF EDGE

The government will publish a review of the scheme’s operation in three months to inform decisions on future support after March 2023.


The review will particularly focus on identifying the most vulnerable non-domestic customers and how the government will continue assisting them with energy costs.


Prime Minister Liz Truss said: “I understand the huge pressure businesses, charities, and public sector organisations are facing with their energy bills, which is why we are taking immediate action to support them over the winter and protect jobs and livelihoods.


“As we are doing for consumers, our new scheme will keep their energy bills down from October, providing certainty and peace of mind.


“At the same time, we are boosting Britain’s homegrown energy supply, so we fix the root cause of the issues we are facing and ensure greater energy security for us all.”


Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality said: “This intervention is unprecedented, and it is extremely welcome that the government has listened to hospitality businesses facing an uncertain winter. ef
“The government has recognised the vulnerability of hospitality as a sector, and we will continue to work with the government, to ensure that there is no cliff edge when these measures fall away.”

SOME BUSINESSES WILL FALL
BETWEEN THE CRACKS, SAYS FSB

Tina McKenzie, Policy and Advocacy Chair, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said: “This announcement will give certainty for the next six months, but a tough year remains ahead of many small firms.


“Many have been waiting for details on the energy bills support package to plan confidently for the winter and beyond, so it’s encouraging to have clarity from the Government on the form that its support will take.


“The next stage will be for small businesses to learn what the changes mean for their current contracts and for any offers they have been looking at.


“Subsidising the unit costs of electricity and gas for six months is welcome, but there are those who miss out from before the six-month period, and help must not result in a cliff-edge afterwards.
“We are calling for a hardship fund to be created for those who fall outside of the current support or for whom the current support will be insufficient.


“There will be hardship for some businesses which signed fixed contracts after prices rose but before April, who find themselves excluded from the scheme.


“FSB calls on energy suppliers to allow those customers to switch without charge to new fixed contracts, covered by the Energy Supported Price if that makes the difference for the small business to survive.


“Small businesses are the definition of vulnerable when it comes to these energy price hikes. Small firms do not have the ability to hedge, or negotiate energy prices, so we will be encouraging Government to continue to help small businesses across all different sectors after the six months have elapsed.”


Ms McKenzie called for common sense and understanding from the energy industry, which will continue to reap massive profits: “Energy companies must play their role to support their small business customers.


“Energy providers must pass on the benefit of the freeze in full and must immediately provide updated bills and quotes to each small business customer who will be wondering today what the changes mean for them.


“We’re concerned that there is no mention of a cap on rises to standing charges, which are the other main element of energy bills. While households’ standing charges will be capped, the same can’t be said for businesses. 

“We call on energy suppliers to support their small business customers by committing to lowering standing charges as far as possible.


“We’d like to see energy companies promise not to disconnect businesses from energy supply that are currently unable to pay for their energy bills this winter and not ask for disproportionate upfront payments.


“Currently, small firms could be disconnected from energy supply if they cannot pay bills after 30 days.
“We will be writing to energy companies in this regard and encourage them to support their small business customers in this difficult period.”

SHORT-TERM FIX FOR
LONG-TERM PROBLEM

Matthew Fell, CBI Chief Policy Director, said: “We welcome the government’s quick and decisive action to provide hard-pressed businesses with a substantial short-term fix to a long-term problem.
“The package will ease worries about otherwise viable businesses shutting up shop, and smaller companies especially will benefit from the discounted rate.


“Businesses will also want to know more about the exit strategy and what happens when the six-month cap runs out. Working closely with businesses will be key to successful implementation.


“The long-run solution is to double-down on energy security and to incentivise firms to push ahead with ambitious energy efficiency programmes to lower demand.”

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