How do you feel about rail staff travel

alistairlees

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I think staff should be encouraged to use the trains. When I worked on the railway, as a general rule staff who used their travel facilities the most tended to be more knowledgeable and interested in the railway outside their little bubble.
Not only that, but to have to buy tickets in the same way as the general public, at least some of the time. This would be a total eye opener (both interms of cost and complexity) for many staff, who have never had to do this. If you don't understand what your customers are experiencing, then you can't serve them right.
 
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Journeyman

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Everyone, regardless of seniority, boil in the bags, newbies, 50 year men who started as coal slingers on footplates, "I worked for BR for 6 weeks in the nineties", post 1996 TOCNE, no matter who .... ALL should get the same travel benefits, and ALL should get the same retirement travel benefits.. either all or nothing.

The current differential should be challenged in court and have it declared unlawful.

As for someone's analogy about Marks and Spencer giving away free food, I seriously doubt that any firm in the stingey retail sector would even give away a carrier bag, let alone any contents to go in it.
Like I said, I've lost out on the lottery of staff travel, and haven't had any entitlement for much of my career.

Much as I'd like it and would use it, I honestly don't see the point of making a massive fuss about it, and if you tried a legal challenge, you'd probably be laughed out of court.
 

rower40

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As a graduate trainee in the late 1980's, I had an all-stations pass, including leisure (i.e. not one endorsed 'For duty purposes only'), until I took my first permanent post. The rationale behind this was written into the conditions of service - "to gain an appreciation of the railway as a whole". It was unique in being the only instance of one losing travel facilities on being promoted!
Happy days...
 

306024

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40+ years ago, joining the railway age 18, with no history of family on the railway, I was totally unaware of the staff travel available until I joined. Best thing I ever did. Salary was £37.50 per week but the travel made up for that. Fast forward to retirement and it really is your passport to freedom (Covid excepted).

I knew someone once who was made redundant by Railtrack after 19 years 8 months service. He would have lost his travel facilities had he not got a job with a TOC the following Monday, to retain them he needed 20 years service. Don’t know if that rule still applies.

There have been issues over the years where people have called for unions to get involved to resolve perceived unfairness, but the view seems to be don’t rock the boat. Been said many times, it is a privilege, not an absolute right.
 

Egg Centric

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My personal view is my opinion is so irrelevant I haven't even come up with one - this is a contractural thing between you and your (possibly former) employer(s). The only thing I do feel strongly about is that promised privileges ought to be preserved, even if said promises were unwise.

As a member of the travelling public I'd obviously prefer it if your unions used their power a bit more wisely and the worst 2% (and it is only the worst 2%) of the customer facing roles were culled/reassigned every year but essentially this isn't up to me - I can always use other means of transport if they're too arsey and if others feel the same eventually the lines/services will be culled.
 

8J

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The comparisons of the benefits retail staff have in their line of work aren't particularly valid.

I've never worked in retail but I have plenty of family members that do. They receive a generous discount and often receive free items for example when food is about to go off.

Active railway staff using their free travel facilities are expected to surrender their seats when fare paying passengers are standing. To the best of my knowledge, if you're travelling on a PRIV ticket, you don't need to surrender your seat.

I'd like to see the so called "cost" that free travel passes for all raillway staff would be compared to the cost of running the rather odious, inefficient and unpleasant "Rail Staff Travel Limited".
 

Journeyman

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My personal view is my opinion is so irrelevant I haven't even come up with one - this is a contractural thing between you and your (possibly former) employer(s). The only thing I do feel strongly about is that promised privileges ought to be preserved, even if said promises were unwise.
Exactly. You get told clearly what you're entitled to when you take on the job, and it's up to you to decide whether you're happy with that or not.
 

Fincra5

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Personally, as someone who does use the train, outside work (To Visit Friends, Family, Day Trip and so on), I'd love for it to cover the whole System. Don't get me wrong 75% off is fab, now its on Off-Peak too! But I don't drive, so I use the train to Holiday in the UK.

Would it not be cheaper to issue everyone with a Full System pass, no more Individual TOC passes, PRIVs and so on? No hoping a Ticket Office is open... or exists. I can't imagine the % of Overall Revenue is huge from PRIV Rate Fares?

As someone else said, with Wages likely to be slow to increase, its time to claw back some T&Cs that may have slipped for money...
 

HamworthyGoods

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Personally, as someone who does use the train, outside work (To Visit Friends, Family, Day Trip and so on), I'd love for it to cover the whole System. Don't get me wrong 75% off is fab, now its on Off-Peak too! But I don't drive, so I use the train to Holiday in the UK.

Would it not be cheaper to issue everyone with a Full System pass, no more Individual TOC passes, PRIVs and so on? No hoping a Ticket Office is open... or exists. I can't imagine the % of Overall Revenue is huge from PRIV Rate Fares?

As someone else said, with Wages likely to be slow to increase, its time to claw back some T&Cs that may have slipped for money...

I’m sure the press would have a field day - railways needing massive subsidy due to COVID but it looks after its own by giving everyone free travel.
 

bramling

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I’m sure the press would have a field day - railways needing massive subsidy due to COVID but it looks after its own by giving everyone free travel.

But, spun a different way, railway can’t afford above-inflation pay rise for staff, so found a way of giving staff an enhancement to their non-pay benefits which in the grand scheme of things costs the industry very little indeed.
 

43066

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Is the current situation about right; should it be made more lenient; or is it already too generous and in need of overhaul not in the railway employee's favour?

I’d say probably about right.

We would all like more, but the existing provision is very generous. For me the priv rate residential season ticket is particularly useful, and is worth a couple of £k in the pay packet alone. Reciprocal agreements between TOCs are also useful (although these are subject to change, and not strictly part of “staff travel”). Using these I could get from London to Aberdeen and many places in between for absolutely nothing.

I do a fair bit of travelling on other TOCs with no reciprocal agreements and priv walk up fares are worth their weight in gold.

As a Londoner one thing I would like to see changed is for priv rate fares on TFL services to be made available to NR TOC employees. They are not currently, yet I understand TFL staff can benefit from Privs on NR services, so it seems odd that it only works one way around.
 

bramling

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I’d say probably about right.

We would all like more, but the existing provision is very generous. For me the priv rate residential season ticket is particularly useful, and is worth a couple of £k in the pay packet alone. Reciprocal agreements between TOCs are also useful (although these are subject to change, and not strictly part of “staff travel”). Using these I could get from London to Aberdeen and many places in between for absolutely nothing.

I do a fair bit of travelling on other TOCs with no reciprocal agreements and priv walk up fares are worth their weight in gold.

As a Londoner one thing I would like to see changed is for priv rate fares on TFL services to be made available to NR TOC employees. They are not currently, yet I understand TFL staff can benefit from Privs on NR services, so it seems odd that it only works one way around.

TfL staff don’t get PRIVs for mainline services, however they used to until BR privatisation, so any pre-1996 staff are “safeguarded” in a similar way to safeguarded mainline staff, and thus keep their entitlements.

There are separate reciprocal arrangements with some TOCs for season tickets, but that’s as far as it goes unless I’ve missed something!

So in theory the only TfL staff who will be getting discounts on mainline will be pre-1996 who have full PRIV entitlement including for work travel, or post-1996 with a travel-to-work season ticket only, but only on certain TOC services.

As ever there’s a few people who manage to wangle things too.
 

43066

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There are separate reciprocal arrangements with some TOCs for season tickets, but that’s as far as it goes unless I’ve missed something!

Understood thanks. It might be reciprocal arrangements I’m thinking of here (which in the case of my last TOC weren’t actually reciprocal!).

Overall the priv rate on NR services is more valuable than a few limited reciprocal agreements, so I suppose we shouldn’t complain!
 

bramling

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Understood thanks. It might be reciprocal arrangements I’m thinking of here (which in the case of my last TOC weren’t actually reciprocal!).

Overall the priv rate on NR services is more valuable than a few limited reciprocal agreements, so I suppose we shouldn’t complain!

I don’t think it’s that many TOCs with the TfL reciprocal agreement. GTR and LNER certainly are, but that might be about it now. Whether anyone else was ever in it I can’t remember.

I know TfL also do a separate scheme which reimburses 75% of work-related seasons tickets, but that’s something internal, and someone on such a ticket wouldn’t be obvious as it would simply be a normal annual season.

The reciprocal seasons look more like TOC staff travel passes from what I’ve seen - and include the usual PRIV requirements like to give up seats if others are standing.

There does seem an element of bitterness at times with TfL staff travel. I guess the issue is that TOC staff are unlikely to be given unofficial free travel on LU, simply due to the way all stations are gated. I’ve no idea how LU revenue would treat someone with a PRIV, probably not like Metrolink where a PRIV seems to be de-facto welcome! Having said that, I know NR staff who do get success in asking for and being given free rides on LU, but I would imagine that there’s always the problem of getting in one end and then having issues getting out at the other.
 

43066

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There does seem an element of bitterness at times with TfL staff travel. I guess the issue is that TOC staff are unlikely to be given unofficial free travel on LU, simply due to the way all stations are gated. I’ve no idea how LU revenue would treat someone with a PRIV, probably not like Metrolink where a PRIV seems to be de-facto welcome! Having said that, I know NR staff who do get success in asking for and being given free rides on LU, but I would imagine that there’s always the problem of getting in one end and then having issues getting out at the other.

That’s interesting.

I’m afraid I’ve always had a dreadful experience with TfL gateline staff, from maskivism to more than once having to argue the toss about getting from one London terminal to another during disruption on GTR (when tickets were being accepted by LU). There’s absolutely no sense of railway family like you might get elsewhere, if anything knowing you work for a TOC makes them treat you worse.

Oh and congratulations (if that’s the right word) on achieving veteran status!
 

yorkie

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Not only that, but to have to buy tickets in the same way as the general public, at least some of the time. This would be a total eye opener (both interms of cost and complexity) for many staff, who have never had to do this. If you don't understand what your customers are experiencing, then you can't serve them right.
Agreed; this is where LNER's friends & family scheme comes in useful ;)

As a Londoner one thing I would like to see changed is for priv rate fares on TFL services to be made available to NR TOC employees. They are not currently, yet I understand TFL staff can benefit from Privs on NR services, so it seems odd that it only works one way around.
If you work for London Overground you get the best of both worlds, with it being part of National Rail and TfL.

I’m afraid I’ve always had a dreadful experience with TfL gateline staff,...
I have too on many occasions. On their hourly rate there is no excuse, but that's a whole different topic...

Exactly. You get told clearly what you're entitled to when you take on the job, and it's up to you to decide whether you're happy with that or not.
Very true
 
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43066

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If you work for London Overground you get the best of both worlds, with it being part of National Rail and TfL.

Indeed - I had forgotten about that. And of course TOC staff can also buy priv tickets for ARL services.
 
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If I am entirely honest, I feel the priv I get as a dependant is very generous. I have never worked a day for a rail company in my life, but get unlimited free UK rail travel, including first class and sleeper berths, due to my father's involvement in the railways. I have certainly used it a lot (I expect my journeys as walk-up first class fares would probably cost tens of thousands in total, especially as I often adapt my plans halfway through the journey). It will certainly take some getting used to when I no longer have it. While I'm certainly not complaining as it has made me who I am and provided many, many fun days out, I do feel it is very generous.
 

bramling

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That’s interesting.

I’m afraid I’ve always had a dreadful experience with TfL gateline staff, from maskivism to more than once having to argue the toss about getting from one London terminal to another during disruption on GTR (when tickets were being accepted by LU). There’s absolutely no sense of railway family like you might get elsewhere, if anything knowing you work for a TOC makes them treat you worse.

Oh and congratulations (if that’s the right word) on achieving veteran status!

There isn’t a massive amount of railway family within TfL at times, let alone outside! There’s a big dividing line between station staff and drivers, and between control staff and essentially everyone else. It probably doesn’t help that the re-org on the stations a few years ago has left a lot of station staff pretty miserable.

Most “old school” staff on TfL are superb, but they’re very much a disappearing breed now.
 

43066

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There isn’t a massive amount of railway family within TfL at times, let alone outside! There’s a big dividing line between station staff and drivers, and between control staff and essentially everyone else. It probably doesn’t help that the re-org on the stations a few years ago has left a lot of station staff pretty miserable.

Most “old school” staff on TfL are superb, but they’re very much a disappearing breed now.

That’s interesting, and surprising given that TfL platform and gateline staff are paid so much more generously than their TOC counterparts, as @yorkie alluded to above.

It’s probably too far off topic to discuss much further on this thread, but perhaps the expectation that a driver job is a line of promotion rather than a separate job contributes to this amongst those who are “passed over”.
 

yorkie

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If anyone wishes to create a new thread about LU roles feel free; the Jobs & Careers section might be a better match than the LU section, especially if comparing to other roles :)
 

the sniper

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Personally, I see access to FIP Coupons as the real privilege. Using the Coupons, travelling across Germany on an ICE, on some obscure narrow gauge rack railway in Switzerland, hopping on and off suburban SNCB loco hauled services to get around Brussels or taking an SNCF RER service to some French backwater, for FREE, feels special. Getting to chat to local staff, getting a knowing nod (or alternatively having to explain the 48hr boxes...:rolleyes::lol:), feeling part of something bigger, really feels special.

With the UK stuff, free travel on the TOC/Group varies depending on your group, but can't argue with that. Personally I don't really use the privilege of free travel on my own TOC for leisure as it's too much like being at work, plus I really enjoy driving. I travelled by train locally far more before I worked on the railway. I'd say the most special aspect of UK Priv is being able to go on the Snowdonia Mountain Railway for something like £8, bargain! (Unlike the heritage railways, I felt no guilt as the SMR is clearly a primarily commercial operation.)

With the 75% off, I don't wish to seem unappreciative of it, as it is worth having and I'm sure many would love it, but it leaves me a bit cold. The situation is far better now than it was when it could only be applied to full Open fares, and it's helpful to have the flexibility of turn up and go 75% discount (though with seat reservations now on IC TOCs, that's a moot point), but, my personal feeling is that public fares are overpriced, as such, it feels like we're paying the fare that the public should be paying! And in many cases the public are actually paying something equivalent, as I travel mainly off peak, when Advance fares aren't too dissimilar to the Priv fares.

I'd love to have Boxes, it would suit my occasional travel habits far better, but it's far from a being a hill I'd choose to die on. If anything, a change I'd suggest is allowing Standard Priv pass holders to purchase First Class fares. I'd be more likely to travel by rail now on modern stock if I could go in First without hassle and it'd be generating more revenue for the railway than would be the case otherwise. Might also help fill some seats in the post Covid/business travel era...

On the other hand you wouldn't expect a person who works at M&S to get free shopping or even discounts at Sainsburys or Aldi...

Though I always say to that, do M&S staff also sell Sainsburys or Aldi products or offer them instead of M&S products if they might suit the customer better? The rail industry is different. For example, there are some booking office staff who rarely actually sell their own TOC's 'product'.
 
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Annetts key

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Not only that, but to have to buy tickets in the same way as the general public, at least some of the time. This would be a total eye opener (both interms of cost and complexity) for many staff, who have never had to do this. If you don't understand what your customers are experiencing, then you can't serve them right.
Err, staff who have BR travel facilities do have to jump through some hoops to get a priv rate season ticket compared to under BR. It always seems to take five times longer at the ticket counter compared to a member of the public buying a season ticket... And that’s after trying to get the correctly filled in form from the Rail Delivery Group / Rail Staff Travel...

In terms of how much it costs the railway, well the current systems can’t really be compared to the BR scheme when BR ran the British network. But before BR was sliced and diced by the Tory government under John Major, a member of staff took the U.K. tax authorities to court over the benefits in kind tax payment that you had to pay. The winning argument was that it made no difference if a member of staff travelled on a passenger train, as BR would run the train regardless. Therefore there was no significant difference in cost to BR. Therefore there was no tax to pay. So I got a refund that year for the tax that I had paid up till the court ruling :D.

I’m now employed by a company that does not run any passenger trains, so I’m back to paying benefits in kind tax again, because the various companies have to pay money to the Rail Delivery Group for the staff travel...

If we went back to a system where the TOCs, FOCs, Network Rail etc all came back under the same company, then a BR like staff travel system would make sense.

I think the railways should provide some free and discounted travel, to encourage staff to use the trains. For three reasons:
  • As a benefit for working for the company / railway
  • So staff can experience the actual service
  • Because it’s better to encourage public transport over car use
 

185

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But it wouldn’t be, as it’s all in the contract of employment.
Writing into a contract that a woman's role is to be paid less than a man's contract would possibly see the HR person in a cell - having a magic contract does not mean the basics of Employment law do not apply.

In a similar way, claiming that Mr Smith should be paid more than Mr Jones NOT on length of service but instead "due to starting in June not July one year in the nineties" quite clearly shows two persons doing the exact same job but both given two different items of pay/benefits.
....if you tried a legal challenge, you'd probably be laughed out of court.
Don't really see how this could be laughed out of court... Certainly meets the absolute basics of tests applied to assess an employment law case.

Sadly, having two unions more interested in Cuban fishermen (RMT) & preserving the use of Welsh (Aslef mag, Feb 2021) ....than the employment rights of those paying subs, most of whom are now TOC New Entrants... is the real place this where falls down.
 

ValleyLines142

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I'm all for staff getting free/heavily discounted train travel, as is the current situation for most TOCs AIUI.

What I don't agree with is sections of the trains being taped off exclusively for staff to travel in, particularly on long distance trains like GWR's Cardiff to Portsmouth services. It means that passengers are forced to cram into the other parts of the train and that doesn't aid with social distancing, and in times where travel is slowly on the rise again that isn't good. In GWR's case they should at least tape off one end and not both ends of the 166s; that's 32 seats blocked off for the sake of maybe one staff member, if that?! I just think it looks highly unprofessional and is a risk to others, especially when it's the declassified First Class section which has tables and comfier seats (and yes I know there are a pair of tables in the centre coach but that's beside the point!).
 

Mintona

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I barely use mine. Since I’ve had boxes for my toc (seven years now) I have filled in a grand total of one for the hugely lengthy journey of Manchester Airport to Manchester Piccadilly.
I travel to London with my own toc from time to time, normally when heading to Heathrow for holidays. And probably once a year or so I buy a ticket to Birmingham or Cardiff or something. I would miss it if it wasn’t there but it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
 

43066

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Writing into a contract that a woman's role is to be paid less than a man's contract would possibly see the HR person in a cell

No it wouldn’t. It would mean that term of the contract was unlawful and could be challenged in an employment tribunal. It wouldn’t be a criminal law matter.

In a similar way, claiming that Mr Smith should be paid more than Mr Jones NOT on length of service but instead "due to starting in June not July one year in the nineties" quite clearly shows two persons doing the exact same job but both given two different items of pay/benefits.

But that’s fine. Employment Ts and Cs can be varied over time and there’s absolutely no requirement for pay/benefits to be exactly the same for all employees, just so long as there’s no discrimination on the grounds of a protected characteristic.

In just the same way someone who retired in the nineties couldn’t come back now and require back paying for all the years of increased salary they’ve missed out on.
 
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gimmea50anyday

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PRIV should be available from a ticket machine.

No, absolutely not. It would just be abused by the general public, and we have a hard time with TOC specific tickets as it is

I don’t think it’s that many TOCs with the TfL reciprocal agreement. GTR and LNER certainly are, but that might be about it now. Whether anyone else was ever in it I can’t remember.
There are many reciprocal arrangements across the network different with each TOC and this only adds to the confusion. TPE get free travel on T&W Metro butNorthern, LNER and XC staff have to buy tickets - however, they can buy child tickets to claim a priv rate and a lot of staff don't know this. T&W get Priv rate travel on TPE, but it's not free and this causes confusion
 

Philip

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On the subject of TPE, do people find more of their guards are strict when it comes to allowing other TOC staff a free ride, even after asking? I don't think I've been refused with them, but heard a few stories from others.

What are Avanti like for other TOC staff asking for a freebie on long distance out of interest? I've no intention of trying to go for a free ride from Manchester to London, happy with the £20 return and it seems a bit over-cheeky to ask, but I'm interested to hear what their general attitude is to this?

I know someone who used to sometimes chance it in first class on Virgin all the way from Manchester to London with his Northern ID pass, sometimes without asking the TM beforehand! Risky to say the least but I don't remember him coming into problems with it.
 

yorkie

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Though I always say to that, do M&S staff also sell Sainsburys or Aldi products or offer them instead of M&S products if they might suit the customer better? The rail industry is different. For example, there are some booking office staff who rarely actually sell their own TOC's 'product'.
Indeed, I agree it's not comparable.

supermarket analogies are useful for nothing but amusement purposes

Unless we had a National Conditions of Shopping, a Shopping Settlement Agreement and see things like a Tesco store operated by Asda staff using a Morrisons building it's not comparable.

We would also need to ban checkout operators advising people of the best combination of multipack deals and most towns would have just one branded store, selling other store brands items and the largest supermarkets would need to be operated by something like a wholesale supplier.

The analogy just doesn't work

On the subject of TPE, do people find more of their guards are strict when it comes to allowing other TOC staff a free ride, even after asking? I don't think I've been refused with them, but heard a few stories from others.

What are Avanti like for other TOC staff asking for a freebie on long distance out of interest? I've no intention of trying to go for a free ride from Manchester to London, happy with the £20 return and it seems a bit over-cheeky to ask, but I'm interested to hear what their general attitude is to this?

I know someone who used to sometimes chance it in first class on Virgin all the way from Manchester to London with his Northern ID pass, sometimes without asking the TM beforehand! Risky to say the least but I don't remember him coming into problems with it.
I'm not sure it's wise for people to divulge too much on a publicly visible forum
 

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