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UK rail commutes are SIX times more expensive than those in Europe, study says

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Chris Sayer
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Like half-hearted resolutions – short-lived gym memberships, end-of-days sale shopping and eating baked beans and dust for dinner – a fat, gut-wrenching hike in train fares has come to be another January inevitability that we just have to deal with because it’s the new year and that’s just what happens now.

 But a new study by Action for Rail has given this year’s train-based kick in the teeth some interesting perspective. And it ain’t pretty. 

Fresh off the back of Monday’s average increase of 2.3% in ticket prices across Britain (with the figure as high as 4.9% on Virgin Trains East Coast), the study revealed that commuters making their way in and out of London now pay on average £387 a month for their rail travel, compared to just £61 in Paris or Rome.

Not only is that more than SIX TIMES more than our European counterparts, but it also means British workers are now spending up to a seventh of their income on rail fares compared to 2% in France, 3% in Germany and Italy, and 4% in Spain.

Oh, and rest assured that the fun and games doesn’t end there! Here comes another truth grenade to take cover from - rail fares have increased TWICE as much as wages and inflation over the past 10 years, with fares up 50%, but earnings just 24%. 

Yeah. Ouch.

“British passengers pay the highest fares in Europe to travel on rammed services,” The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union General Secretary Mick Cash said. “Companies like Southern and its French owners siphon off cash to subsidise rail services in Paris and beyond.”

Adding to the uproar, CBT public transport campaigner Lianna Etkind said that many commuters are “now being charged at a similar level to a premium rate phone number for their season tickets and are left feeling equally fleeced”.

Offering some sort of explanation as to why we’re coughing up so much for the joys of British rail travel, a spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group told The Guardian: “At £5.15, the average price paid per journey on a season ticket – the increases to which are set by government – is actually lower in real terms than at the turn of the century. Money from fares is helping to support the £50bn-plus Railway Upgrade Plan to give people new trains and faster, more reliable, more punctual journeys.”

Er, nah, that’s not got us feeling much better about it tbh. 

We’re walking home. 

Main pic: Guy Bell/REX/Shutterstock

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Chris Sayer

Chris Sayer is a freelance journalist and editor based in London. Chris has interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment and travelled the world doing an all manner of adventures for lots of brilliant magazines. He writes for Shortlist about booze but would probably prefer we let him write about fishing instead. Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisSayer00

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