There are plenty of benefits to working on the railways. One of them is shown in the photo above, taken in the National Railway Museum in York. The Priv ticket. Some people use them more than others. I use them more than most. And why not? Rail travel is a great way to see the country, and if it can be done for cheaply, or even for free, then one would be mad not to make the most of the perk.
It works like this. Upon joining a Train Operating Company, an employee gets a staff pass for that network along with spouse/kids passes. Free travel for the whole family across the services run by his or her direct employer. It doesn’t stop there. Many TOCs run more than one network. Stagecoach, for example, run South West Trains, East Midland Trains and the East Coast Mainline. That’s free travel to locations as exotic as Weymouth, London, Sheffield, Newcastle, York, Edinburgh, Inverness, Liverpool and many more besides.
If one does need to venture off the home networks then the TOC Privilege Card comes into play, giving the holder a 75% discount off standard fares. And again, the whole family gets one of these cards. A return trip for two from Bournemouth to Manchester plummets from £240 to £60. Which is a much more manageable outlay.
We’re still not done yet. After twelve months service, one is issued with a FIP card. Again, the family get one too. This provides discounted travel across Europe, either 50% or 75% off, depending on where you go. Not that you necessarily have to pay a fig though. One is also entitled to a certain number of coupon cards for a select number of countries each year. Each coupon has four boxes which you date when travelling. This provides you with 48 hours of free travel across most routes in that country, per box. Mrs P and I are currently planning a Spanish trip for spring.
Most companies have perks of some sort or other. Some companies are more generous than others. But this is as good a perk as I’ve ever had. Truth be told, I feel quite…privileged. But you need not feel entirely left out. There is always the National Railway Museum in York. That is free of charge to everyone. It’s a treasure trove of memorabilia, engineering and the very fabric of the industrial revolution. If you are lucky, as were were, you might even get to glimpse the Flying Scotsman if it’s in the workshop.