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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Perth & Kinross

Scottish Citylink pressured on ‘short-sighted’ timetable changes

October 28 2015

A Perthshire politician is heaping pressure on a bus firm following service cuts affecting passengers travelling between Edinburgh and Perth. Murdo Fraser, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, told The Courier he has written to Scottish Citylink to express his disquiet at changes to their timetable, which he described as “short sighted”. Last week, the under-fire Scottish Citylink announced they have rolled out a daily return bus service from Edinburgh to Perth at 5.15pm, following a flood of complaints from aggrieved Fair City customers. This service, which began on Monday, was introduced after the bus company said they would be slashing tea-time services from November 23 from the Scottish capital to Perth. Yesterday, Mr Fraser hit out at Scottish Citylink, and revealed he wants answers from the firm’s management. The Scottish Conservative politician is asking them to “reconsider” their decision to cut services at tea-time back to Perth. “Cutting commuter services in an age where we are trying to convince people to use public transport more is short-sighted,” he said. “Ultimately there is a commercial argument for bus companies who obviously cannot operate routes at a loss. “However, for people relying on these services to get to work these cuts come as a major blow.” And Roseanna Cunningham, MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, described Scottish Citylink’s additional service back from Edinburgh as not being an “acceptable response”. “These timetable changes have caused all sorts of problems for Scottish Citylink’s most regular and loyal customers and I am still waiting to see a justification from the bus company that adds up,” she said. However, a spokesman for Scottish Citylink said the company had “ensured” there are still “links available,” either through them or those run by other operators that continue to allow people to travel from Edinburgh to Perth. “Like all businesses, from time to time we take a look at our network to determine which services are most in demand and which have fewer passengers using them. This is to ensure we are providing the kind of services that reflect the travel habits of our customers.” The spokesman said Scottish Citylink works hard to ensure they use resources effectively to “meet the needs” of as many as their customers as possible.


Fifers facing commuter chaos with cuts to buses and trains

October 30 2015

Fife commuters are facing a double whammy of cuts, making it harder to get to work on time. A reduction in the number of carriages on a rush-hour route to Edinburgh has seen passengers packed into crowded trains. Now Scottish Citylink has announced it is withdrawing a morning service to Dundee from Halbeath park and ride, the only one of the firm’s services to get to the city from there for 9am. The moves have been described as a major blow for Fifers who work outwith the region and MSPs have pledged to campaign to reverse the decisions. Train travellers have been complaining for weeks about cramped conditions on a key morning service to Edinburgh. Despite a statement from ScotRail earlier this month that it had actually increased the number of carriages on the Fife circle line, managing director Phil Verster has now told MSP Claire Baker that the 7.09am service from Dundee had seen a reduction. He insisted, however, that the cut was not due to carriages being diverted to the new Borders route. He revealed that since the beginning of September, the service which previously ran with six carriages now had only four. He added that it had run with just three or even two coaches on eight occasions. Mrs Baker said she was pleased ScotRail had finally recognised there was a reduced service. “It’s unacceptable that people are having to travel on two or three coach trains,” she said. “It doesn’t meet demand on that line which is a key route for people working in Edinburgh. It is not acceptable that people are having to travel in uncomfortable conditions.” She added: “It is very concerning there is no intention to put this service back to six coaches and the best people can expect is a four-coach train.” Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser branded Citylink’s move short-sighted at a time when people were being encouraged to use public transport. The company has defended its decision to remove the 7.15am from Edinburgh to Dundee and Aberdeen from November 23, saying it is due to low passenger demand. The service leaving an hour earlier will no longer stop at Halbeath. “In practice this means that commuters cannot reach Dundee before 9.45am travelling by Citylink/Megabus from Halbeath,” said Mr Fraser. “Ultimately there is a commercial argument for bus companies who obviously cannot operate routes at a loss, however for people relying on these services to get to work these cuts come as a major blow.”


‘It was freezing’ Black Watch veteran tells of night in bin after airport bus mix-up

January 20 2016

A 70-year-old Black Watch veteran has told of being forced to spend the night huddling for warmth in a recycling bin after being dumped at a Fife park and ride site. Henry Stewart, of Dundee, was on his way to spend the festive period with friends in Malta, but missed his flight as he was instead battered by the elements on a stormy night in Fife. The pensioner, only recently recovered from a heart attack, was making his way to Edinburgh Airport and boarded a bus to Ingliston, only for its driver to instead drop him at Halbeath. The Halbeath site was in darkness and there was no connecting bus to Edinburgh until the following morning. Uncertain of what to do, and having left his phone at home, he says he sought shelter in the best place he could find an unlocked recycling bin. He opened a drawer and crawled inside, spending the night there in the freezing cold as near gale force winds howled around him. Mr Stewart told of scavenging bins for fuel to burn, fighting to keep fish and chip wrappers lit in the strong winds until his lighter gave out. Scottish Citylink has apologised for the error that saw him stranded and said the driver contracted from another firm had been interviewed and the “appropriate action taken” with regards his employers. It also stepped in to book replacement flights and an extended overseas stay to ensure that Mr Stewart’s holiday was merely delayed, not cancelled. Mr Stewart’s claims about his search for shelter are disputed by the firm, however, with a spokesman saying: "The CCTV footage of the park and ride facility on the night in question does not match Mr Stewart's version of events." However, the firm also admits he disappeared from CCTV cameras for three-and-a-half hours. Scottish Citylink said buses had come and gone during the evening without the pensioner approaching them for aid and that there had been a service the following morning that could have taken him to the airport in time. Mr Stewart explained that he had been confused to find himself at Halbeath and disorientated by the dark and storm and said Citylink’s suggestion that he should have approached a disembarking passenger and asked to use their phone had not crossed his mind. The pensioner, a retired butcher, also claimed he was told by the first driver he approached that none of the buses stopping during the remainder of the evening could take him to the airport. He said: “I was supposed to be on my way to spend the festive period with friends in Malta but instead the driver just dumped me in the middle of a storm at Halbeath. “It was freezing cold and the whole place was in total darkness. The strap on my holdall broke, wrapped around my ankle and tripped me up. I had a cut on my nose and thought I’d broken it. “The wind was horrendous. The trees were bending like they were rubber and the wind was tearing through the covered stance. “I went round the back to get out of the wind, found an open bin and crawled inside to wait out the night. That’s how it happened. Why on earth would someone make that up?” The pensioner said that despite enjoying his holiday the entire incident had left him with a sour taste and he is considering further action. A spokeswoman for Scottish Citylink said: “We are very sorry for the difficulties Mr Stewart experienced on his journey to the airport. “This was due to an error made by a driver who was employed by a third party company which was operating on our behalf. We have raised the matter with the company involved and made clear our disappointment at the situation faced by Mr Stewart. “We are pleased to have been able to make arrangements for Mr Stewart to enjoy an extended trip to Malta.”

Perth & Kinross

Fears Kinross commuters will be left ‘stranded’ by cuts to bus services

October 21 2015

Politicians and commuters are incensed at changes to bus services from Edinburgh to Kinross that it’s claimed could leave passengers stranded in the capital. From November 23, Citylink will slash its tea-time service back to Kinross meaning there will no buses between 4.30pm and 7pm. That’s a situation described as “utterly useless” by Roseanna Cunningham, MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire. And she has been backed by Liz Smith, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, who told The Courier she has asked Citylink to “re-think” their winter timetable. Ms Cunningham said she had received a number of complaints from constituents “expressing concern” about the proposed changes. “At present there is a pretty good service,” she said. “However, under the new winter timetable, there will be no services for Kinross leaving Edinburgh between 4.30pm and 7.00pm. That is utterly useless for the vast majority of commuter passengers.” She continued: “I know Councillor Joe Giacopazzi has raised the matter with the relevant departments in the council and I am taking it up with Citylink. “This new timetable leaves Kinross commuters stranded. It is not as if they can get the train, after all, and if changes are not made to the proposed winter timetable, Citylink will stand accused of treating these regular customers with contempt.” And Ms Smith added: “Many residents depend on the service for their commute to work and this will be adversely affected with the withdrawal of these services.” A spokesman for Scottish Citylink said: “Like all businesses, from time to time we take a look at our network to determine which services are most in demand and which have fewer passengers using them. “This is to ensure we are providing the kind of services that reflect the travel habits of our customers. “As a result, we are making some changes to our services between Kinross and Edinburgh. From November 23 we are withdrawing and amending a small number of services to reflect passenger demand. “However, we will continue to operate 28 journeys per day between Edinburgh and Kinross Park and Ride. “We carried out a consultation with local authorities and received no responses raising any concerns with our plans.” A spokesman for Transport Scotland: “We understand the changes to the Edinburgh/Kinross service have been raised with Citylink and the relevant authorities and we would urge them to listen to these concerns.” And a council spokesman added: “We can confirm that senior council staff have met with their counterparts from Scottish Citylink regarding the company’s planned changes to their commercially-operated services.”

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk


Help! Paul McCartney fans left without ticket to ride

June 26 2010

A group of Sir Paul McCartney fans from Dundee were nearly left waiting in the wings after a trip to see the former Beatle perform in Glasgow turned into a magical mystery tour. Not only did bus company Citylink fail to send a bus to take them to the concert last Sunday afternoon despite each paying £24 for a ticket they were stranded in Glasgow and needed help to get home after the show. The foursome's long and winding road to the national stadium rock show began at Seagate bus station in Dundee on Sunday when their coach, which had been scheduled to pick them up at four o'clock, failed to appear. "We were supposed to leave at four o'clock and told to make sure we were at the bus station 10 minutes before that," said Lilian Gibson, one of the four stranded customers. "We had booked the tickets through Travel Dundee for Citylink. But by 4.15 there was still no bus, even though it said on the board that the 808 was going to Hampden. "Luckily, there was a Megabus that came in and we were told to get on to Buchanan Street in Glasgow and that Citylink would make sure we got to Hampden from there." Things appeared to be getting better for the day trippers once they got on the way. "Lo and behold, when we reached the park and ride in Perth there was a Citylink bus sitting there that took us to Hampden or as far as the Asda across the road anyway," continued Lilian. "When we got off, the driver told us to ask a policeman after the concert where the coach park was and we would get picked up there." However, once the concert ended it soon became apparent their plans to get home were not going to get off the ground. "There was just no bus there and no one had seen a Citylink coach either," said Lilian.Get back"We were able to get on another bus back to Dundee but it was full and some of us had to sit on the floor." Lilian expressed her gratitude to the driver who let them on to the bus back to get back to Dundee, but she said too many people had been let down by Citylink. "There were 16 other people who had got on the bus through that were just left stranded though," she added. "There was a woman who was picked up in Stirling who had to walk with a stick she was just standing there in the car park when we were pulling away. "It was about quarter past two in the morning when we got home but the fact is that we were totally abandoned." However, Lilian said their travel nightmare had not been enough to spoil a great day out. "He was absolutely fabulous it was worth it," she said. Yesterday, a spokesman from Citylink said, "A technical fault resulted in delays for passengers travelling on our Dundee to Glasgow service for the Paul McCartney concert. This was unfortunate and we are sorry for the inconvenience. "Once at Hampden, all passengers were informed where the pick-up point would be after the show and we made great efforts to ensure everyone made it back to the coach. "Citylink will offer full refunds to those passengers who we recorded as non-arrivals and did not travel."

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.