UK commuters are paying up to six times more on train fares than passengers in other European countries, according to research by Action for Rail.

Action for Rail’s report claimed that passengers in other counties across Europe are using mostly publicly owned railways and spending less on travel.

The research found that workers on average salaries travelling from Luton to London are spending an estimated 14% of their income on rail travel if they buy a monthly season ticket, amounting to £387 a month.

Meanwhile, commuters on similar salaries travelling from Liverpool to Manchester were found to spend £292 on monthly season tickets, which is around 11% of their income.

Commutes on equivalent routes in Europe are believed to cost passengers only 2% of their incomes in France, 3% in Germany and Italy, while 4% in Spain.

"Research found that workers on average salaries travelling from Luton to London are spending 14% of their income on rail travel if they buy a monthly season ticket."

Action for Rail accused Southern Rail of inefficiencies, highlighting that during the 2014-15 period, it received £42m in net subsidies from the taxpayer and paid out £22m in shareholder dividends, despite a number of delays and cancelled trains.

With fares increasing, Southern Rail is also planning to close more ticket offices and remove guards from trains, extending driver-only operations. The company is run by Govia and now part-owned by French state railways.

The report by Action for Rail follows the annual New Year rise in rail fares. However, UK TRANSPORT Secretary Chris Grayling has defended the ticket price increases, stating that they were necessary to help pay for what he described as the country’s largest rail upgrade programme in more than 100 years.

In addition, new research claimed that more than £1.5bn could be saved nationwide over the same period if rail franchises up for renewal this Parliament were returned to the public sector.


Image: CrossCountry Voyager at Manchester Piccadilly train station. Photo: courtesy of Matt Davis.