If there’s ever a case of ‘it’s time to stop talking’ it was Sir Nicholas Winterton on BBC Radio 5. Sir Nicholas was being questioned about MPs being prevented from travelling first class and and came out with the outrageous claim that ‘someone in standard class has a totally different outlook on life.’ Instead of apologising and retracting the statement when given the opportunity Sir Nicholas just kept on digging.
That’s a shame, because he had started off by making quite a pertinent point about using train journeys efficiently by working. I’ve tried both standard and first and it is a fact that it is far more difficult to work in standard.
The most pertinent reason is the fact that the tables are a lot smaller and it’s more crowded. When all of the seats are full there simply isn’t space for four people to get laptops out and work. Especially when you start adding reports, folders, drinks and food to the clutter.
The issue that should be addressed is how badly MPs buy their first class tickets. I’ve frequently travelled first class with MPs I know and their tickets have cost £334 for an open first class return and I’ve paid £94 (or less) to sit next to them on the same journey.
It’s ludicrous to think that MPs can’t plan their journeys like small businesses have to. Their diaries and meetings are no less or more subject to change than any other person travelling for business. There is no justification for using open tickets. Stopping them using first class is pointless and won’t necessarily even save money as an open standard is usually more than a first class advance – £223 on the Leeds to London Kings Cross example I’m using.
You can get first class tickets even cheaper if you follow the ‘split-ticketing’ advice. Instead of attacking those travelling standard class Sir Nicholas should be seeking to introduce legislation preventing the train operator using such unfair pricing that such tactics are necessary.