Tales from the Trenches: Corruption

What is corruption?

The simplest definition for corruption is: the misuse of public power for private gain.

If you have worked in international logistics for a few years, you know that corruption still exists in many countries and in many areas such as customs, licensing and other government offices.

I had an experience recently in Italy while using their train system, Trenitalia, which is owned by the Italian Government.

Before I get to my story, I want to share the rankings below, which are from the Corruption Perceptions Index; they rank countries based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be.

LWL014 Tales from the Trenches Corruption Ranking

Now, the story: I posted a video on our Instagram account (“logisticswithlenny”) that depicts this recent personal experience on the train ride (Leonardo Express) between Roma Termini and Rome’s main airport, Fiumicino.

After purchasing my ticket the day before, I boarded the train with my ticket in hand and ready to go.

As the conductor made his way through the train to check for tickets, he stopped at the passenger beside me and asked for her ticket.

After reviewing her ticket and requesting her identification papers (passport), he advised her that the ticket had not been properly validated prior to boarding the train.

Without this prior validation, she was in violation of the law and would need to pay €50 immediately or she could choose to pay €116 when the ticket arrives by mail.

She insisted that she knew nothing about this validation process and finally told the conductor to mail the fine.

My turn: despite having purchased the ticket one day before at the TrenItalia office, I was also not advised of the requirement to pre-validate my ticket.

Same procedure: he asked for my ticket and passport and gave me the option to pay now or later.

In disbelief and shaking my head, I advised him that I would not pay now; he should have the ticket sent to me.

I am not sure how the ticket will arrive at my home with only my passport information, but I have faith that the Italian rail cannot make that happen!

The conductor then made his way to the next passenger, a German woman traveling with her son.

She too was unaware of the Italian pre-boarding validation edict.

She was very upset and confused about having to pay this penalty for a seemingly mild infraction.

After seeing this now for the 3rd time, I thought: “are we all so stupid or is this guy trying to make a little extra income to supplement his salary?”

I decided it was the latter and jumped in to defend this woman. This was the conductor’s reaction as I took a video of him…

LWL014 Tales from the Trenches Corruption

I have traveled quite a bit on European and U.S. rail systems and, in my opinion, this behavior is contrary to all passenger train procedures I am aware of.

Let’s make the world a better place…good luck!

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About Lenny

Many years of experience in a Fortune 1000 companies, especially in the logistics and I.T. areas of manufacturing companies. Through process improvements and the use of many of the tools mentioned here, I have been able to identify and implement savings opportunities worth up to $10 million. I hope that some of these real-life stories, suggestions and tools can help you!
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