French National Railways has unveiled a second tranche of measures designed to win back passengers following recent difficulties (RG 3.97 p175). According to SNCF President Louis Gallois, the 10 sales and marketing initiatives aim to make train travel easier, cheaper, more practical, punctual and inviting.From June, young people aged 12 to 25 will, subject to availability, be eligible for a 25% fare discount without the need for a railcard. The fare will also apply to return tickets for any two people travelling together. SNCF’s existing Carrissimo railcard for young people is to be replaced from June by a new product offering a 50% reduction on most journeys (25% on others) and costing Fr270 for 12 months.TGV fares across France are to be harmonised from September, with the current four-tier structure simplified to three levels. Tickets ordered by Minitel will be delivered to home addresses free of charge from May, and from June children under the age of four can have a seat on any train for Fr50. The current arrangement of free travel but no guaranteed seat for under-fours remains.On the Paris suburban network, credit/ debit cards will be accepted as payment for all tickets costing Fr15 or more from April, and from July 93% of trains will run within three minutes of the advertised arrival time. This figure is to increase to 95% in 1998 and more information is to be provided on the performance of main line services. By the end of this year SNCF is to improve provision of information when traffic is disrupted, including a new telephone service.From June 120 stations will have information kiosks, with staff wearing distinctive uniforms. Facilities for disabled passengers will be improved in 200 stations, with more wheelchairs and chair lifts, platform-edge warning strips for the partially-sighted and improved facilities for the hard of hearing at ticket windows. From June, wheelchair passengers will be able to buy tickets and reserve space from home.In order to avoid a repetition of events earlier this year which left TGV passengers stranded in southern France (RG 2.97 p82), SNCF is to introduce a package of measures to deal with situations such as extremely cold weather and their consequences. As well as making better use of weather forecasts and improving real-time train location, SNCF is to put into place a passenger assistance network with controllers and on-train personnel communicating by mobile telephone. o
KINGS XI Punjab trounced Royal Challengers Bangalore by eight wickets yesterday despite AB de Villiers thumping 89 not out from 46 ballsAN extraordinary innings from the fit-again AB de Villiers proved in vain yesterday as Kings XI Punjab made it two wins from two in the Indian Premier League with an emphatic eight-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore.AN extraordinary innings from the fit-again AB de Villiers proved in vain yesterday as Kings XI Punjab made it two wins from two in the Indian Premier League with an emphatic eight-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore.de Villiers, who replaced Chris Gayle on his return from a back injury, moved into overdrive in the closing stages of RCB’s innings to finish unbeaten on 89 from 46 balls with nine sixes, his last 58 runs coming from just 18 deliveries.However, Bangalore were able to post only 148-4, having made painfully slow progress up until the 17th over, and that total was comfortably overhauled by the Kings XI.Hashim Amla underpinned a successful chase with 58 not out from 38 deliveries, while Glenn Maxwell’s 22-ball 43 ensured victory was secured with more than five overs unused.Both Amla and Maxwell were dropped, on 20 and 13 respectively, as the Royal Challengers delivered a disappointing display in the field.There was plenty to admire in the work of the Kings XI’s unbeaten batsmen, who each cleared the ropes on at least three occasions, while Manan Vohra also impressed at the top of the order with 34 from 21 balls.However, the standout performance of the match undoubtedly came in a losing cause as de Villiers demonstrated why he is viewed as one of the world’s leading limited-overs batsmen.The 33-year-old was initially forced to rein in his attacking instincts as Bangalore slumped to 22-3 amid fine bowling from Axar Patel (1-12), Sandeep Sharma (1-26) and Varun Aaron (2-21).Mandeep Singh hung around to make 28 before falling to a superb diving catch from wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, running back towards the boundary, off Aaron.de Villiers then launched a devastating assault in the company of Stuart Binny (18 not out), striking a series of enormous maximums over midwicket and long-off to ensure Bangalore took 68 from the last four overs, having made just 80 runs in the previous 16.