First Class

February 18, 2010

Guido has been sinking his teeth into Conservative MP Nicholas Winterton over his preference for first class train travel. One would think giving my allegiances I would be doing he same. I find myself in two minds about it. His comments are out of line , phrases like ‘a different sort of people in standard class’ suggest an unfortunate attitude. And he probably doesn’t have longer than a two hour train ride to get back to Macclesfield. However he did raise a point about whether it is ever appropriate for MPs to travel first class in trains.

I frequently travel 6-8 hours on the train, always in standard class, and often do wish to spend the time writing a science paper, programming or running a simulation – activities which require a laptop pc, table and power supply – and frequently also, an internet connection. Most of the time I manage to do this without any insurmountable problems. (of course, the seat reservation system won’t be working as usual but thats for a separate post the next time I’m on a virgin train. Assuming I switch to an east coast train with free internet)

However, you can’t be assured that you’ll even get access to your seat. Very often its standing room only, and then you really can’t work – frankly its ridiculous. Access to a power outlet, free internet, etc, is not guarranteed by seat reservation in standard class.

The amount of time a train actually takes to get from one side of the country to the other is a national scandal. That time cannot be a dead loss. You cannot simply take a day off work to get there and another to get back every time you want to make a trip by train.(I’m talking Glasgow->Oxford here)

The fact is an MPs work should in principle be confidential, and I am not comfortable with my MP, if he is working during his journey, dealing with confidential documents in an unnecessarily crowded space.

Although this MP in particular has certainly gaffed, lets get a grip and remember there are practical reasons for travelling first class.


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