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Yorkshire Times
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7:32 AM 15th July 2021
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“Britain Is At A Work/Life Balance Tipping Point” New Research Reveals

Covid-19 has had a detrimental effect on the nation’s work/life balance, according to new research by the rail industry, with many having sacrificed much needed time off during the pandemic, to the potential harm of their mental health.

On average, people skipped four days of annual leave, which equates to a staggering 124 million lost holiday days across the working population. One in 10 people (10%) skipped 14 or more days of annual leave last year, which equates to over 43 million lost holiday days across the country.

Worryingly, this pattern looks like it could be set to continue. At the mid-year mark, a third (33%) of people in Yorkshire and the Humber are yet to take any annual leave this year, with 18% saying a reason is they are waiting for UK restrictions to lift before they book any leave.

This research is the first in a series of studies conducted by the rail industry to highlight the social and economic importance of train travel. The industry will shortly be launching a major national marketing campaign designed to restore confidence, drive awareness and reappraisal of rail whilst also contributing to the nation’s economic recovery.

Today’s research highlights the impact that untaken leave has had on the nation’s wellbeing and calls to attention the importance of taking time off, even if it’s just the odd day mid-week, a visit to a relative, a little adventure or a mini break, with trains being a more relaxing way to travel.

As part of the research, Brits were asked which of 12 locations they’d most like to visit when restrictions lift, all of which are easily accessible by some of Britain’s most popular train stations. London took the top spot with a quarter of the votes (24%). Those in Yorkshire and the Humber were also asked what they enjoyed most about travelling by rail, over a quarter (28%) cited the fact that it is relaxing as the top reason, followed by not having to worry about being stuck in traffic (23%).

Britain at a Work/Life Balance Tipping Point

As a nation of work-a-holics, our work/life balance is at an all-time low as nearly half (46%) of working adults in Yorkshire and Humberside have worked additional hours during the pandemic.

On average Brits have worked an extra three hours a week and one in ten people (10%) have been found to be working an additional 10 hours a week since Covid-19 hit in March last year. This equates to an extra 40 hours a month, which is an entire extra work week. Over the course of a year, this equates to a further full three months of work.

With a year of restrictions and less holiday being taken, it’s no surprise that energy is low for over half of Brits (52%) who are working longer hours, with two in five over-worked people (40%) stating they’re experiencing feelings of burn out. This is especially worrying in light of recent data published by the World Health Organisation, which reported that working more than 55 hours a week can lead to an increased chance of dying from heart disease and stroke.

Psychiatrist Dr. Sarah Vohra comments: “Even with restrictions easing there's still an element of wanting to hold holiday back for something better later, but regular breaks, even short ones, in a new environment, help reduce stress and boost our mood and energy levels. Whether you travel near or far, a day trip by train and time away from the day-to-day routine can really help with good mental wellbeing. Taking time to reconnect with loved ones after long periods without is also a crucial factor in helping reduce stress, it can even see us return to work more focused and increase our productivity. Getting out and about by train allows you to fully relax on that day out. Furthermore, your adventure starts from the moment you get to the station, you don't have to worry about traffic jams or parking and on-board facilities mean you don't have to stop at services. It's quicker, more efficient and affords you opportunity to sit back and relax.”

Ben Fogle
Ben Fogle
Adventurer, explorer and rail advocate Ben Fogle comments: “Travelling by train is a great way to visit some completely new and wonderful locations away from your day-to-day routine, which is really important for your mental health. It’s also a stress-free way to travel, meaning you can plan your itinerary for your next adventure, or catch-up on some much-needed rest before you get there. Britain is full of some of the most beautiful and vibrant spots in the world, from country hikes to seaside strolls and bustling towns and cities, even a day trip to somewhere new can leave you feeling inspired for the future. And that’s something we could all do with a little of right now.”

Robert Nisbet, Regional Director for the Rail Delivery Group and spokesperson for the rail industry comments: “As people get back on trains to reconnect with loved ones, places, and things they enjoy the most, rail companies are ready to welcome them onboard and get the economy moving again. We are helping people travel and book with confidence by providing better journey information, boosting cleaning, and giving people to option to change a booked journey fee free should their circumstances change. To make sure everyone has the best experience possible we’d encourage passengers to travel at less busy times and book in advance where they can.”

Golden Train Ticket Giveaway

As part of the rail industry’s Life is Back on Track campaign, 12 UK locations that Brits would most like to visit when restrictions lift, have been brought to life as unique train ticket works of art by artist Claire Rollet. These exclusive pieces will be available to win as part of the rail industry’s golden train ticket giveaway. Alongside winning the bespoke works of art, each winner will receive a year’s worth of free train travel so that those fortunate enough to secure one can make the most of their time off, reconnecting with their loved ones and exploring Britain with ease.

The golden train ticket giveaway opens for entry from 19th July. To enter, submit your contact details at: www.nationalrail.co.uk/goldenticket