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Rail chief working from home is ‘blatant hypocrisy’

A high rail chief is nonetheless working from home half time 130 miles away from the office regardless of urging commuters to return to the railway, The Telegraph can reveal.

The taxpayer-funded Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which helps handle the National Rail Enquiries web site, railcards and ticketing, ran a “let’s get back on track” marketing campaign in February which advised commuters “heading back to the office” is important for the economic system.

The predominant business physique has led the cost for extra commuting by rail since steering to work from home was ditched in January.

Its personal analysis discovered that each further office day for commuters is price £82 million to British business.

But it has been accused of “blatant hypocrisy” after an investigation by this newspaper discovered the RDG and Network Rail permit office-based employees to commute solely twice per week.

Jacqueline Starr, 50, the RDG’s chief govt, has admitted that she commutes to its headquarters in London’s Barbican twice per week most weeks – 130 miles from her north Somerset home.

Ms Starr, who receives a £270,000 pay packet, mentioned she has lower her four-hour spherical journey from Nailsea & Backwell, within the Westcountry, to London Paddington from 4 days to 2 since being appointed in November 2020.

But the RDG advised the general public in February: “Encouraging businesses and commuters to take the train will boost the economy and the environment, helping to get the country back on track.”

The railways are going through a summer season of chaos as RMT union members put together to strike at Network Rail and 13 practice operators in a pay dispute, threatening meals shortages.

Industry funds are in dire straits since many civil servants and different employees resisted a return to their desks. Commuter journeys are 45 per cent down on pre-Covid ranges.

Most employees at practice working corporations who had been office-based earlier than Covid are actually understood to be working in a hybrid method.

‘The RDG should be the first to go’

A spokesman for the Association of British Commuters mentioned: “As effectively because the blatant hypocrisy, it’s an instance of the rising inequality in public transport; the place those that can work from home, and people who can’t are pressured to pay ever extra extortionate rail fares.

“Not to say rail employees, who had been handled as valued key employees throughout Covid, but whose pay and circumstances are actually beneath menace.

“The Rail Delivery Group is an unaccountable trade association that presents itself as the ‘voice’ of the railway, when its real purpose is to act as the lobbying and public relations branch of the private rail industry. If the Government is so desperate to make savings, then the RDG should be the first to go.”

Norman Baker, a former Transport Secretary, added: “The Campaign for Better Transport is working hard to persuade people back on the railways and to get passenger numbers back up, and anything which affects that is unhelpful.”

The RDG has obtained practically £10 million in authorities money prior to now two years, together with £500,000 to run a Covid rail recovery marketing campaign. The Department for Transport couldn’t give a complete determine because of complicated buildings.

The RDG tells its 300 employees on its web site: “All we ask is that you simply do a minimal of two days per week within the office, the remainder of your time might be working from home or elsewhere.

“We believe this improves productivity through a focus on outputs and enables a better work life balance for all our employees.”

Attracting a ‘flexible workforce’

The RDG wouldn’t say whether or not it pays for Ms Starr’s £150 each day rail fare as a part of her £270,000 remuneration, however confirmed it doesn’t fund any London lodging. 

Network Rail, which has labored with the “let’s get back on track” marketing campaign, confirmed the “majority of office-based staff are working in a hybrid way now”, ranging from none to a few days per week at home. It mentioned the vast majority of its 42,000 staff are frontline so can’t.

A Rail Delivery Group spokesman mentioned Ms Starr commutes “by rail several times a week” and this is “consistent with both her role and her personal travel arrangements”. A senior RDG supply mentioned this is two days per week most weeks, however extra in different weeks.

The spokesman added: “The pandemic has modified the best way many individuals journey and the RDG coverage displays that, with the office open 5 days per week and all staff requested to come back in for a minimum of two, with most choosing extra.

“The industry is working hard to attract a more flexible workforce, with measures like the introduction of flexi season tickets for commuters. Ultimately though, more fundamental change is needed to adapt to the new normal and meet our passengers’ new needs.”

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