Most companies of any size offer a few benefits and perks to their employees. The railway offers more than most. Who wouldn’t want a final salary based pension? They’re hard to come by these days. Some (most? all? I don’t know…) Train Operating Companies also provide a scheme, which I participate in, to buy shares in the business. I buy three shares, two more are thrown in for free. There are conditions, of course, and it really only works if you treat it as a long term deal. But my favourite perk, which works in the here and now, are the travel benefits. I’ve probably touched on this before. But I’m not sure I’ve ever explained the full deal.
I have four cards in my wallet, and each of them provide a different travel benefit. The first one is the one I use the most, for work and leisure. It provides me with free and unrestricted travel on the network I work for. That means, most importantly, free travel to London. The next card is also a good one, although I use it less frequently. My network is owned by a group that owns three other franchises. This card has five or six boxes, and when I put a date in one of them I have 48 hours of free travel on those networks. That means I can explore the whole of the south west, across the Pennines and Hull.
The third card is the TOC Privilege Card. This one gets me 75% off fares on all other TOCs, exclusing the cheap advance tickets. That means I can travel anywhere I want, at minimal expense. Good, don’t you think? Now, on to the final card. It’s the FIP card. This gets me 50% to 75% off most fares across Europe. It also entitles me to apply for coupons for several countries, which allows me a certain amount (more than I’ll ever need) of free travel. And yes, my wife gets all these benefits too, bar the free European coupons. If we had kids, they would too.
Needless to say, I have plans. I have a holiday in October, all to myself. I have been struggling to make my mind up between a cheapy train themed Euro holiday or a trip to Penzance from London on the Night Riviera sleeper, working my way back, slowly, on the regular trains. I can explore Poldark country. And then it occured to me. Just do both. Seven days is plenty of time to do lots of travelling with a bit of preperation and planning.