You may have read about the government’s plans to encourage rail operators to decrease the amount of first class carriages on trains. And you may have also been nose-to-nose on a crowded train commute, staring into an empty first class carriage in the past. So is reducing the number of first class carriages a logical proposal? I think it does.
Over the last few years we have seen many of our clients move away from first class rail travel to standard class, with first class ticket purchases dropping from 30 per cent to only 11 per cent. Many clients now have it mandated in travel policies not to travel first class on rail journeys. However, we aren’t seeing a drop in rail purchases overall, which indicates the standard class offer is providing what people need on longer business journeys.
A recent GTMC rail survey highlights that 77 per cent of passengers believe that the ability to work on the move is one of the biggest factors (after speed, comfort and cost) when taking the train, over other modes of transport. We have also recently highlighted - via the results of our total impact report (featured in the Jan/Feb issue of The Business Travel Magazine) - that on some domestic routes clients can save time, money and CO2 emissions by taking the train, all of which supports that rail travel is a very business travel friendly option.
While longer routes will and should always have a first class option, I believe that creating more standard class space, and making that space workable for business travellers is the way forward.
This blog post was written by Nigel Turner, Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s director of programme management and business development. Carlson Wagonlit is exhibiting at the Business Travel Show on 4-5 February 2014. Register now at www.businesstravelshow.com.