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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

UK rail passengers pay ‘3.5 times more than European commuters’

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Campaign for Better Transport ‘has discovered some UK commuters are paying three and a half times more for their season ticket than their European neighbours’.

Campaign for Better Transport compared the cost of an annual season ticket into five major European capitals.

Despite the Government’s concession in the Autumn Statement to cap regulated fare increases to inflation plus one per cent in January, instead of inflation plus three per cent as originally planned, the transport charity discovered the sample UK ticket ‘cost three and a half times more than the most expensive European one, and almost ten times (9.7) more than the cheapest one’.

The cost of an annual season ticket, including multi-modal travel on each city’s underground system, from a commuter town approximately 23 miles from the capital:

  • Woking to London, £3,268
  • Ballancourt-sur-Essonne to Paris, £924.66
  • Strausberg to Berlin, £705.85
  • Collado-Villalba to Madrid, £653.74
  • Velletri to Rome, £336.17.

Sophie Allain, Campaign for Better Transport’s public transport campaigner, said:

“We knew we had some of the most expensive rail fares in Europe, if not the world, but even we were shocked by how much more the UK ticket was in comparison to our European counterparts.

“When the cost of season tickets is so much higher than other European capitals, the Government’s fare rises are starting to affect the UK’s competitiveness.

“That’s why if the Government is serious about promoting economic growth it must also look at reducing planned fare rises in 2013 and 2014 as part of a policy to cut fares and make public transport truly affordable.”

In response to the Campaign for Better Transport research on rail fares, a spokesperson for the Association of Train Operating Companies said:

“This is a flimsy piece of research that does not stand up to scrutiny, focusing on just one season ticket out of tens of thousands available. Next year, the average commuter will pay just over £2,000 a year or less than six pounds a day to travel to work and back home again by train.

“In many other countries, the state chooses to subsidise the railways more heavily than in Britain.

“In this country, the long-standing government approach to sustain investment in the railways is to cut the contribution from taxpayers and increase the share paid by passengers.”


  1. Flimsy piece of research!

    I have a flimsy piece of cardboard that has cost £7460 for my commute from Rugby to London.  Just to make things even better I have had one modest pay rise within the last 4 years.  The cost of travel is beginning to hurt. 

    The railway system needs to be totally overhauled to get the cost structure right.  Privatisation is a disaster for the travelling passenger.

  2. I would love to meet one of these average commuters who pay just over £2,000 a year. They certainly don’t work anywhere near London.

    Instead of the spokesperson for ATOC coming out with such a statement which will no doubt be like red rag to a bull to every single rail commuter in the UK, they would have been better off by just not commenting at all.

  3. Not a fair comparison. Paris commuter fares are heavily subsisdised by employers as well as the Region and if I remember correctly Ballancourt is on a RER line with many intermediate stops and poor quality stock.. Strausberg commuters have to use the Berlin S Bahn with up to 20 intermediate stops, a 50 minute journey and fairly poor accommodation. Velletri commuters are heavily subsidised by Lazio Region and have an hourly all stations service taking 60 minutes in 40 year old EMUs with little legroom. Woking has 10 or more trains an hour with most taking less than 30 minutes and in modern air-conditioned trains with the only subsidy coming from the State i,e the taxpayer


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