Monday, 25 October 2010

Business class on the train?

Another musing from a Virgin Train.

During this busy holiday period, as the trains fill with travelling families enjoying their half-term break, I'm wondering if it's time for the train companies to go back to having three different classes and have a business class, like long-distance airlines do.

One or more carriages on long-distance trains would be designated business class coaches and it'd cost a premium to sit there, though not as much as first class.

These coaches would have a few soundproofed booths from which businesspeople could make calls on their mobile phones. The rest of the coach would be "quiet" with no use of mobile phones allowed, enabling businesspeople to work or read in peace.

And "quiet" would mean "quiet". So families, stag and hen parties, and other "noisy" groups wouldn't be allowed to sit in business class (unless the alternative was sitting in the corridor because the train was packed to the rafters - but business class would be "declassified" officially in these situations, as first class is).

At-seat tea and coffee would be served, but it would cost, not be free as it is in first class.

And the WiFi service would be cheaper than in standard class, but again, not free.

I wonder... will any train companies think of doing that? I would certainly pay extra to travel in those conditions.

And while they're at it, the train companies could put on a family coach too. Maybe even with space for children to play, and at-seat TVs.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Martin Leuw says "if PAYE ain't broke don't fix it"

I attended IRIS World 2010 in London yesterday and was introduced to Martin Leuw, CEO of IRIS.

Martin recently wrote a piece for The Independent, "The coalition needs to cut red-tape and fast", saying that both employment law and health and safety law need to be made simpler, because they put small businesses off hiring employees.

I couldn't agree more with that. I help look after HR at FreeAgent and while I can see why it's important to have a first aid box in the office and send several members of staff to learn first aid (my parents both owe their lives to trained first aiders), I can't see why it was necessary to buy a big shiny poster about health and safety law and Blu-Tack it up in the office. Surely it would have been enough, and far more environmentally friendly, to send round a link to the health and safety website for staff to read?

But the nub of Martin's piece, for me, is his concern about proposed plans to devolve the responsibility for running payroll to HM Revenue.

I run FreeAgent's payroll. It is my responsibility to make sure everyone takes home the right amount of money each month. I relish that. In my days in practice I saw just what a hash HM Revenue can make of things. I'm blessed if I want them getting their grubby little paws on running our payroll. And I'm sure I'm not the only payroll queen/king who feels like that.

Besides which, HM Revenue have enough to do, recovering all these billions of pounds in unpaid taxes that we keep hearing about.

So I agree with Martin on all counts. Simplify the system but don't mess with what already works! Please!