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Thomas Cook reveals profits for first time in five years

Making a profit

Beleaguered holiday firm Thomas Cook - heavily criticised following the deaths of two children from Wakefield on a holiday in Corfu - has posted its first annual bottom line profit for five years.

This is despite a £130 million sales hit from the Tunisian beach and hotel terrorist attacks in June.

The group said it had been a year of "considerable challenges" after coming under fire for its handling of the deaths of Bobby and Christ Shepherd. They died after being overcome from fumes from a faulty boiler at their holiday home on Corfu.

Christi and Bobby Shepherd

Chief executive Peter Fankhauser said the group had "confronted its mistakes" following the deaths of the children.

Thomas Cook posted profits after tax of £19 million - its first positive profit after tax since 2010 - while underlying earnings rose 11% to £310 million. But it said the suspension of holidays to Tunisia cost the group £130 million in sales, with underlying earnings impacted by around £22 million.

The group said the new financial year had got off to a good start despite cancelling its flights to Sharm-El-Sheikh in Egypt after the downing of a Russian passenger plane last month, while Tunisia holidays also remain suspended for most markets.

Union: Tax credit cuts could cost region over £300m

The economy in Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire could lose £332m a year if planned tax credit cuts go ahead, according to the trade union Unison.

A plan to scrap tax credits was blocked in the House of Lords Credit: PA

More than a quarter of a million working families in the region receive tax credits from the government.

Chancellor George Osborne is set to announce his autumn spending review later today.



First phase of Wakefield smart motorway set to go live

Motorist will be able to use an extra lane on a section of the M1 near Wakefield from Saturday 5 December ahead of a new smart motorway going live later in the month.

First phase of Wakefield smart motorway set to go live Credit: Press Association

A 50mph speed limit will remain in place whilst contractors for Highways England test the technology before the first phase of the system goes live on a 7.5 mile stretch between junction 39 (Denby Dale) and junction 41 (Morley) on Saturday 12 December.

An extra lane will also open on the northbound carriageway between junction 41 and junction 42 (Lofthouse). Work is continuing between these junctions and a 50mph speed limit will remain in place until this phase of the smart motorway scheme goes live in the new year.

Smart motorways are already proving successful in other parts of the country and we have now reached a stage where we can open this section of the M1 between junctions 39 and 41. By opening this extra lane it will help to reduce congestion during peak times for drivers by providing four lanes to ease the flow of traffic.

– Tsuwun Bevan, Highways England project manager

'Human error' caused Alton Towers crash, say theme park owners

The crash on the The Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers which seriously injured five people was caused by "human error" and the ride will re-open next year, the theme park's owner Merlin Entertainments has said.

Credit: Press Association

Leah Washington, 18, from Barnsley had to have her left leg amputated after being trapped for hours. Her boyfriend Joe Pugh was also injured in the crash in June.

Virgin Trains to invest £21m in East Coast mainline

Virgin Trains has announced a multi-million million refurbishment programme for its fleet of 45 trains on the East Coast route from York to London and Edinburgh.

David Horne, Managing Director, Virgin Trains East Coast Credit: Press Association

The travel company will spend £21 million to give 400 carriages a complete refurbishment, with 24,123 seats replaced, and leather seats to be fitted in First Class.

New toilets, carpets and curtains will also be fitted and 35 new engines will be installed on the diesel High Speed Train fleet.

This is not only one of the biggest investments of its kind ever seen on the East Coast route, but also three years ahead of the introduction of new Super Express Trains as part of the Government’s InterCity Express programme.

We’re investing now so our customers can benefit from new seats and a great new on-board environment before we get a new fleet of 65 trains from 2018.

– David Horne, Managing Director, Virgin Trains East Coast
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