Picking a fight with the corporation…


somewhere between Newcastle and Berwick upon Tweed

I am on my way to Edinburgh and will be coming back again tonight. Four and a half hours each way to write emails (wifi on the move: genius), catch up on work and generally sit back and enjoy the scenery.

I adore train journeys. I wouldn’t want to do this mammouth one too often but with internet access and my beloved Mac there’s no reason not to use the train table for Bohemian hot desking.

Only the organisation I now work for is crazy for domestic flights. Without exception everyone I have talked to about the work trip to Scotland has been expecting me to fly. And I refuse to. At the moment in a calm, happy and genial way… but I can already feel a fight brewing.

This train journey costs the same (give or take £5) as a flight and its connecting train would be, but I do have my Railcard to thank for that. Once you take into account time to board, the flight itself and any additional airport bruhaha the journey times are not so different. And I didn’t have to get up at 5am. I am also able to use the full 4.5 hours to do work, should I so wish.

But more than that, it is better for the environment and serves to minimise our profligate use of – and dependency on – oil. True, our train system is not as fast and efficient as it could be. In a recent open letter to President Obama, Michael Moore explained that the same high speed network in Japan would mean Americans could take the bullet train from New York to LA in 17 hours. Rather than drive or, indeed, fly. We’re a smaller country so the times would be even less for significant journeys and I’m not sure what’s holding back this kind of investment across the UK.

Perhaps the powers that be argue supply and demand. For as long as flights are cheaper than train journeys, companies will suggest their staff take that option. Working for a charity I know that I am more accountable than most for the price of my expenses, but I cannot in good faith be one of those passengers whose loyalty secures a continued future for domestic flights.

I want to fight. Or rather, I don’t want to fight, and that is probably the wrong way to go about it, but I do want to make change. I think I might start with approaching train companies for a charity rate on train fares. Or I have to create a “train journeys are fun journeys” campaign for our Internal Communications. Either way, someone’s going to hate me.


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