UK rail commuters can pay up to 10 times more than some of their European counterparts, new research suggests.
The figures from the Campaign for Better Transport come just days before rail users face an average price rise of 6% on regulated fares – those set by the Government.
The transport campaign group compared the cost of an annual season ticket for travel into five major European capitals; London, Rome, Paris, Berlin and Madrid.
The organisation discovered the Woking to London season ticket cost three-and-a-half times more than the most expensive European one, and almost 10 times more than the cheapest one.
The figures reflect the cost of an annual season ticket for journeys of approximately 23 miles into the capital cities.
:: 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
The campaign’s Sophie Allain 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 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.
Association Of Train Operating Companies
But the research has been strongly criticised by the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc).
A spokesman 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.”
Their figures show that next year the average commuter will pay just over £2,000 a year, about £6 a day, to travel to work and back home again by train.
The Atoc spokesman said: “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.”
According to the Department for Transport the revenue from fares is helping to deliver one of the biggest programmes of rail capacity improvements for a hundred years, to benefit passengers and stimulate economic growth.
“We recognise the pressure on family budgets and that’s why we announced that 2012 regulated rail fares will rise by an average of inflation plus 1%, not plus 3% as set out in the Spending Review.
“Better value for fare payers and taxpayers can only be achieved if the rail industry works together to reduce inefficiency, and we will be publishing our rail reform plans early next year,” a spokesman said.