Rail fare increase: UK train prices vs rest of Europe

2 January 2018, 09:44

Commuters' rail fares have soared by nearly £700 on average in the last seven years, according to new analysis by Labour.

Those living in Birmingham and travelling to London for work have borne the highest increase, with their Virgin Trains season ticket now costing £10,567 - £2,539 more than in 2010, and an increase of almost a third.

Residents setting off from Tame Bridge Parkway, near Walsall, for Nuneaton have been hit with the biggest percentage increase of 50% - with a ticket now priced at £2,916.

And Theresa May's own constituents have seen their annual ticket from Maidenhead to London Paddington jump by £732 since the Conservatives came to power, Labour said.

It comes as passengers face a New Year fare hike - the highest in five years.

One campaign group, Railfuture, warned: "People are being priced out of going to work."

The bumper rise is sparking comparisons with European rail fares.

In Germany, residents can purchase a BahnCard100 - a ticket covering travel across the entire network - for €4.270,00 (£3,795).

For comparison, the new cost of a season ticket from Peterborough to Kings Cross is £6,540, while Liverpool to Manchester is £3,152.

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Meanwhile in France, the latest figures released by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) show the annual cost of the commute from Ballancourt-sur-Essonne to Paris is just £750.

And in Italy, passengers making the journey between Velletri and Rome - which is about the same 23-mile distance - pay £442 for the year.

But commuters travelling the same distance from Wokingham into London Waterloo face a £3,248 bill.

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Stephen Joseph, chief executive of CBT, told Sky News: "UK railways are more expensive than many European networks, partly due to the different ways the railways are operated here.

"But it's also because passengers pay for the bulk of the running costs, despite the obvious economic and social benefits to the whole country from having a well-used rail network.

"But fare revenue now covers the costs of running the railways and then some.

"That's why we need simpler, fairer and cheaper rail fares, a freeze on any further rises and flexible season tickets to help the growing army of part-time workers - something most other European countries already offer."

Train companies argue higher fares are needed for more investment - to buy new trains, keep services running regularly and improve safety on the network.

But the 2017 European Railway Performance Index found the highest-ranking countries included those with high government subsidy of rail fares, with Germany and France outstripping Britain.