Excuse me, Finnish RailwaysThursday, April 26, 2007 at 0:47 | Posted in Finland, railways, smoking | 3 Comments
I have not traveled on rail in Finland for several years. In fact, I have not traveled within Finland at all because there would have to be a very good reason to visit any place in Finland other than Helsinki. On Saturday I have a reason to take a train to Turku: the annual congress of the Association of Estonians in Finland.
So I am going to take a train to Turku on Saturday morning. I had a look at the web site of Finnish Railways. I discovered that all morning trains to Turku are Inter City 2 trains. Inter City 2 trains are the only ones without a smoking cabin. Smoking is totally prohibited on board those trains.
In the FAQs there is a question about the missing smoking cabins. The answer goes in the lines of environmental concerns, a general tendency to non smoking and smokers being a minority of rail travelers. There is also a statement that the traveling times are allegedly not too long for anybody to refrain from smoking. The tone of the answer is utterly patronizing.
Excuse me, dear Railways, but I think I know better than you do, how often I have a physical need to smoke. Having smoked for 38 years and having suffered the pain when trying to quit, I would say that 1 hour and 45 minutes is a long time. Long enough to cause me physical symptoms.
Excuse me, dear Railways, since when is your business strategy based on health and environmental propaganda? I was stupid enough to think that your business was transporting passengers and serving all of them on equal terms. I was also stupid enough to think that even a minority of your travelers are paying customers who have the right to expect being served on your trains.
Your decision to have smoking cabins on all other train categories except Inter City 2 would require that a client had something of a choice between categories. I would be happy to travel an hour earlier if I could avoid an Inter City 2 train although I really do not accept that those particular trains are an exception to your policy of having smoking cabins on board. The decision must have been made by a health fascist who never smoked in their life.
Luckily, the return trains to Helsinki in the afternoon and early evening are other than Inter City 2. I do not mind that the journey takes 15 minutes longer as long as I have access to a smoking cabin.