Company policy is in place to save public money
Sunday June 23rd 2019
Staff working for Network Rail have been told to fly around the UK for business when it works out cheaper than taking the train.
The company’s policy stipulates that members of staff should fly to their destination if it saves money.
According to the Sunday Times, the policy came to light shortly after rail fares across the UK rose by 3.1 per cent.
Cheaper to fly
Network Rail’s expenses policy states: “UK air travel should be used where it represents the most cost effective option compared to the relevant train fare, when taking into account the total cost of the journey.”
In the last two years, the cheapest flight bought by staff was a £19.99 flight from Cardiff to Anglesey. The same journey by train going via Holyhead would have cost £84 for a flexible single ticket.
A single flight taken from London Stansted to Glasgow cost £30.99, another from Newcastle to London Heathrow for £73.31 and one trip from Southampton to Manchester cost £39.99.
In two years, staff and bosses took 9,212 flights at a cost of about £1 million and equivalent to emissions of 1.5m tons of carbon dioxide.
A spokesperson for Network Rail told i that only two per cent of staff chose to fly instead of taking the train where it has worked out cheaper to do so.
They emphasised that Network Rail is a public body and if it didn’t have the policy in place, it could be accused of wasting public money.
They added: “With 98 per cent of our business travel made by rail, trains more often than not represent the best value.
In June 2018, as commuters continued to face major train disruption across the country, Network Rail boss Mark Carne was awarded a CBE for services to the rail industry, despite it struggling to cope with new timetables that were introduced a month earlier.
The disastrous change, which left passengers facing widespread delays and cancellations, was the result of “systemic failings”.
An inquiry by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) found Network Rail “failed to comply with its licence requirements to run an efficient and effective process”.
Transport Focus was unavailable for comment.