Yours for £1,000: a Caribbean cruise, or a return ticket to the Kyle of Lochalsh

For the first time, a UK rail fare breaks the four-figure barrier

It is a sinking feeling familiar to thousands of rail passengers. Packed and ready to travel, their optimistic expectations of a trip on Britain's railways can be swiftly quashed by the eye-wateringly high fare prices demanded at the ticket office.

Anyone who has grudgingly forked out more than they would have liked for their trip might count themselves lucky following the revelation that, for the first time, unfortunate travellers on one route will be forced to stump up more than £1,000 for their ticket.

Passengers wishing temporarily to swap the party culture of Newquay, Cornwall, for the more serene pace of life enjoyed in the sleepy coastal village of the Kyle of Lochalsh, in the Scottish Highlands, will have to pay £1,002 for the privilege after the latest round of fare hikes. Enquiries carried out by The Independent found that a passenger could opt for a one-week luxury cruise in the Caribbean instead, together with flights to and from Puerto Rico, and still come home with £50 change.

Any travellers wanting a return "walk on" ticket in a first-class carriage for the 20hr 30min trip would be charged the record-breaking figure, which was discovered as part of a survey carried out by Barry Doe, a public transport consultant. He found that passengers would not even enjoy the luxury of a first-class cabin for two sections of the trip (the journey involves changing three times) and anyone wanting to get any sleep would have to fork out an extra £43 for a sleeper.

Tickets for the 1,700-mile return journey are available through the CrossCountry train firm. A spokesman for the company said: "No one has actually bought this £1,000 fare but it does exist. Someone wanting a first-class return would be likely to book a saver return in advance and pay £561."

Mr Doe's survey also revealed that some standard "walk on" return fares had doubled in price since the mid-1990s. Other trips seeing a major rise included the London-to-Manchester route, increasing from £33 in 1995 to £66.10, and a London-to-Newcastle return ticket, which had seen an 84 per cent price rise over the same period to £105.

Prices shot up again at the start of this year, despite the onset of the recession. Passenger groups were furious after fares on some routes rose by more than 10 per cent. Regulated fares, such as season tickets and off-peak tickets, increased by an average of 6 per cent, with the cost of an advance fare rising by an average of 7 per cent across Britain.

Although the ticketing system for trains has been simplified, many passengers still complain that "walk-on" fares are still far too high, while confusion often reigns over which trains can be caught using an advance-purchase tickets. Cat Hobbs, from the Campaign for Better Transport, said the £1,000 fare showed that huge problems remained with the rail network's pricing system. "Fares in this country are far too expensive," she said. "They are the most expensive in Europe. We think the Government should step in and review how they regulate fares."

Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat transport spokesman, said that the first £1,000 ticket was an "unwelcome landmark" that would do nothing to convince more people to travel by rail. "When you can fly half way across Europe for £30, the idea that you can end up paying £1,000 for a train journey in Britain is absolutely scandalous," he said. "Not only are passengers being encouraged off the trains and into their cars, but some considering this journey may decide they'd rather fly to Australia and back for half the price."

The shadow Transport minister, Stephen Hammond, said: "Fare payers have become all too used to appalling value for money. Today's revelation of a £1,000 fare really takes the biscuit."

Off the rails: Other ways could you spend the train fare

* Thirty-one flights from London to Edinburgh: £991.65. Flights from London Stansted: £31.99 each, including taxes.

* One-week Caribbean cruise, plus flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico: £945. Flights from London: £539. Cruise: Adventure of the Seas, £406, visiting Bridgetown, Barbados; Castries, St Lucia; St John's, Antigua; Philipsburg, St Maarten; St Croix, US Virgin Islands.

* Second-hand Ford Escort, bought in Newquay, with enough petrol for the 1,700-mile round trip: £877.20. Cost of car: red Ford Escort 1.6 SI, bought from Newquay's Newmans Automotive: £599. Petrol costs: £278.20; around 57 gallons needed, using fuel at 30 miles to the gallon.

* Taxi fare from Newquay to Kyle of Lochalsh and back again: £800. Two people sharing a minibus run by Don's Cabs, Newquay, would have to shell out £800 each for the return journey, but would have enough space to stretch out for a kip.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas