England has the priciest train tickets in Europe

 

Rail passengers returning to work after the festive break face fare hikes of up to 10 per cent, as an analysis by The Independent shows England has the dearest train tickets in Europe.

Season ticket holders face another year of inflation-busting price hikes at a time when wages are stagnating and bills rising, leading campaigners to claim rail travel is becoming “an extravagance many struggle to afford”.

While rises in the price of annual rail passes has been capped at 4.2 per cent by ministers, some “unregulated” fares are increasing by more than double that, as privatised train operators attempt to boost revenue. For instance an “anytime” return trip between London and Norwich will go up by 9.2 per cent, from £98.60 to £107.70.

A protest at London St Pancras station is being held during morning rush hour today.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “It’s truly shocking that we have deliberately made getting the train to work an extravagance... The time has come not just to stop the rises, but to reduce fares.”

Demonstrators will be joined by Labour’s shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle, who said the Government had misled travellers with their promise to limit fare increase to one percentage point above inflation.

“The Government should come clean with commuters that this is a direct result of their decision to cave in to pressure from the private train companies to let them hike ticket prices beyond the so-called cap,” she said.

The Government had intended to allow train companies to raise the average price of regulated fares – which include season tickets – by RPI inflation plus three per cent this and next January. This would have meant rises of 6.2 per cent. David Cameron then announced in October that it would instead be limited to RPI plus one per cent – a 4.2 per cent rise.

The Independent has compared the fares that take effect today with other large European countries, and found England has by far the most expensive long-distance train fares. While the snapshot survey of “walk-up” fares costing around £100 does not represent a comprehensive comparison, the results show that English travellers are charged significantly more per mile than people in Scotland and Wales.

For example, on the West Coast Main Line, from Stafford to London, a £98.50 ticket buys just 133 miles.

But in Scotland, the highest one-way fare is £96 – which buys 365 miles of travel, from Stranraer to Kyle of Lochalsh. The Scottish government has capped today’s regulated fare rise at 3.9 per cent, and hopes to limit increases in the next two years.

Wales’ longest journey, from Fishguard Harbour to Holyhead is also 365 miles. The fare rises by 5.5 per cent today, but at £85 represents the best deal in mainland Britain.

In Northern Ireland, fares have been frozen – with faster and more frequent services due to start next Sunday.

Rail expert Mark Smith, who founded the seat61.com website, said: “The UK is more aggressively commercial than other railways, and has both higher fully flexible fares for business and lower leisure advance fares. Most other European operators are following in our wake. But true, none go up to levels as high as ours at the top end.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable