Rip-off rail faresUK rail travel is 'most expensive' in Europe

03 January 2007

A train pulled in at a station

Britain’s standard rail fares are now three times higher than the rest of Europe a new report claims.  

Following the storm of criticism over the annual price hikes for rail fares, figures published on tuesday show that the UK tops a comparison of standard single fares and has ‘the most expensive intercity route in northern Europe’.

Rail union TSSA looked at the costs for a standard single fare – the price a passenger would pay if they arrived at a station to buy a ticket on the day of their journey - excluding discounts.

Shocking price comparisons

A ticket on the busy London to Manchester trains costs £109.50, or 34p for each of the 321km (199 miles).

In comparison, a ticket from Paris to Calais, a slightly longer route, is a third of that amount.

Passengers pay just £34.50, or 10p for each of the 330km (205 miles) travelled and enjoy a shorter journey time.

In another example, a standard single from London to Newcastle now sets a passenger back £112 for a journey of 464km (288 miles). Yet travelling across Spain from Madrid to Barcelona, a gruelling 623km (387 miles) journey, or travelling from Germany's capital Berlin to Bonn, a 588km (365 miles) trip, costs just £63 in each case.

Italy also offers cheaper rail fares. Travelling via rail from Rome to Milan costs just £41.56 for the 632km (392 miles) trip.

To get the most mileage for their money, UK travellers could try the London to Inverness route. The 903km (561 miles) journey may take over nine hours, but at £131.50, costs just 15p per km.

Rail fares 'unacceptable'

Gerry Doherty, TSSA general secretary, said Britain’s train operating companies were in danger of pricing passengers off the railways by increasing fares to unacceptable levels.

‘In the rest of Europe, we have a publicly owned system with family friendly fares and it is used by the whole population, young and old alike.

‘Here we have a system where the fares are too high and it is a lottery to find the right ticket at the right price. We need lower fares and a ticket structure that everyone can understand.’