Do you buy a First Class rail ticket? Or just standard?

Now and again I am required to commute back and forth into the city for extended periods of time. For instance the projects I’m working on need me to be in Richmond-Upon-Thames daily. Our recent house move made the commute rather simple: 30-odd minutes on a train that typically 90% full.

On the way back in the evenings at peak time I don’t usually get a seat until a few stops have come and gone. This is entirely doable. And it’s all standard class.

A couple of chaps I know don’t stand for this. They always travel first class. There’s certainly a cost differential, but in the fullness of time and on the basis that you can (in many respects) offset the expense against tax if you’re a contractor, these chaps think it’s a good deal — they always get a seat.

I’ve no trouble with paying for first class. If I’m traveling on a long train journey — to Newcastle, Manchester or somewhere, I always book ahead and always select first class.

But day-to-day? I’m not sure if I see the value for a 30-minute journey.

The one guy I know who always travels first class explains to me that he simply doesn’t want any hassle at all. He likes the idea of never, ever having to stand. He regularly reads and sometimes does the crossword and occasionally he’ll use his laptop. However the value for him is the more or less permanent service level: A seat is virtually guaranteed. (On his line, I should point out). He also travels about an hour each way.

I’m typing this on my MacBook Air on one of the seats in the ‘quiet carriage’ on the South West Train service from Reading and I have to accept that I’m reasonably content. This morning I’m not traveling at peak time either so it’s nice and easy for me to use the laptop. At peak times it might be a little more difficult.

In terms of cost for me, the standard return journey is £14.40. First class is £24.40. An extra tenner.

And what do you get?

On this train line, you just get a dedicated seating area and, I imagine, less turnover of passengers so there’s less disruption if you’re trying to work.

I’m not sold on the value, I don’t think.

[And then my train stops at Staines and fills up with what feels like 100 chattering school children everywhere!]

What’s your view — if you commute, do you do standard or first class and what’s the cost difference?