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Network Rail bosses opt for flying as it's cheaper than using the train

3 min read

29 April 2015

Most dread the regular hikes in train fares – not to mention the commute itself. So, you might forgive others for choosing a different mode of transport if they have the option to skip the stress and delays.

You might be a little less understanding after finding out that Network Rail bosses have spent £1.3m on UK flights in the last year because it was cheaper than taking the train.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by The Sun found that employees of the public sector body took a total of 8,352 flights from April 2013 to March 2015, and spent £1.1m on 2,907 international flights. 

The majority of these journeys were domestic flights – 90 per cent were to Scotland, but some were further afield, with trips including Japan and Australia. Staff travelling on a journey of more than five hours could plump for business class.

The company defended its decision as being the most convenient, cost-effective option. “If employees have to attend a 10am business meeting in Scotland, it is cheaper to fly up than take the train the night before and have to pay for overnight accommodation,” it said in a statement.

Network Rail also pointed to the majority of money spent by employees travelling by train. “For the majority of staff, rail is much the better way to go. A total of £1.3m was spent on flights in 2013/14 and 2014/15 but £32m was spent on rail travel during that period.”

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Former operations manager, Robin Gisby, was the employee who spent the most on flying. He took 15 domestic flights totalling £2,250 and a further £4,430 on international flights.

Gisby previously oversaw the Christmas trains chaos in December 2014, when passengers dealt with severe delays, after Network Rail failed to finish maintenance. All trains in and out of London’s King’s Cross were cancelled, with passengers directed onto Finsbury Park – which soon became overwhelmed.

Earlier this year, National Rail disclosed figures revealing that Britain’s railway passengers were enduring the worst delays for four years, despite the rising cost of tickets. More than a third of trains failed to arrive on time last year – one commuter service was late on every single occasion.

Network Rail said that all 35,000 employees have to pay the going rate for travel “be it air, rail or car”. The company also added that, “our people are obliged to use the cheapest method available, sometimes that means by air but mostly we travel by rail”.

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