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The Railways Mean Business

The report analyses the productivity benefits for business travellers of switching from air to rail for journeys from Glasgow/Edinburgh to London.

The report found that the existing benefits of rail travel – reliability, better use of the working day, comfort, and low stress – far outweigh the assumption that shorter travel time equates to greater productivity.

The report demonstrates that rail already has significant advantages over air – even without environmental considerations, including:

  • Better reliability – rail is over 20% more punctual than air services
  • A much more comfortable and low-stress travel experience – more room and no need to queue
  • A more productive working environment
  • Better use of the working day – air travellers often find little or no time for work, due to the fragmented nature of the journey. This results in by far the greater part of the journey time being lost (1 to 3.5 hours).

The report concludes that the negative perceptions of rail travel need to be challenged, and that the railways could do more to sell its existing benefits. Further specific enhancements targeting the business market should be made, including:

  • Encouraging corporate buy-in to rail travel through improved frequent traveller scheme and an environmental ‘Green Star’ scheme
  • Targeting investment and communications messages to promote trains as a ‘mobile office’
  • Implementing ‘best-of-class’ online ticketing across all major rail ticket websites (using Virgin Trains’ recent improvements as a starting point)
  • Consider introducing an iconic service (for example, free massage) in first class to highlight the low-stress and refreshing nature of rail travel.