Issue date
03 Jan 2017

embargo: 00:01hrs Tuesday 3 January 2017

- Commuters to London pay £387 a month, compared with £61 in Paris or Rome
- Rail fares have shot up twice as much as wages and inflation over the past decade
- Campaigners point to "failed privatisation" as key driver of high fares

Rail commuters returning to work today (Tuesday) will face fresh fare increases, while spending up to six times as much of their salaries on rail fares as European passengers on publicly owned railways, new research by the Action for Rail campaign has revealed.

UK workers on average salaries will spend 14% of their income on a monthly season ticket from Luton to London (£387), or 11% from Liverpool to Manchester (£292).

By contrast, similar commutes would cost passengers only 2% of their incomes in France, 3% in Germany and Italy, and 4% in Spain.

Country

Monthly season ticket cost

% of average monthly earnings

UK (Luton-London)

£387

14%

UK (Liverpool-Manchester)

£292

11%

Germany

£85

3%

France

£61

2%

Italy

£61

3%

Spain

£75

4%


The analysis also shows that rail fares have increased by 56% since 2006, more than double the change in average earnings (24%) and inflation (26%).

Action for Rail, a campaign by rail unions and the TUC, point to the UK’s privatised rail service as a key driver of costs. All other countries examined have largely publicly-owned rail services and lower costs for commuters.

The findings come as rail campaigners and workers plan to hold protests at over 100 stations around the country against fare rises and in support of public ownership. At London King’s Cross Station and Manchester Piccadilly Station, photo ops and demonstrations will take place at 8am on Tuesday 3 January.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

"British commuters are forced to shell out far more on rail fares than others in Europe. Many will look with envy at the cheaper, publicly-owned services on the continent.

"Years of failed privatisation have left us with sky-high ticket prices, overcrowded trains, understaffed services and out-of-date infrastructure. Private train companies are milking the system, and the government is letting them get away with it."

ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan said:

"It is scandalous that the government is allowing privatised train companies to make even more money for providing an ever-poorer service. We have the most expensive railway in Europe and the train companies, aided and abetted by this government, are about to make it even more costly for people to travel."

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

"British passengers are paying the highest fares in Europe to travel on rammed services while the private train companies are laughing all the way to the bank. Companies like Southern Rail and their French owners are siphoning off cash to subsidise rail services in Paris and beyond."

TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes said:

"It's high time we stopped this annual rip-off of our passengers and take back control of our train companies for the British taxpayer. Money made from the railways should be ploughed back into cheaper fares and service upgrades for the benefit of passengers."

Unite national officer for the rail industry Tony Murphy said:

"Yet again UK rail passengers are hammered by the annual fares rip-off.

"Transport secretary Chris Grayling has made it clear that he views the railways as a political football for ideologues, with long-suffering commuters lagging a long way behind. Every day, the case for the public ownership of the rail industry gets stronger. "

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

  • A full list of stations where there will be demonstrations can be found here: bit.ly/Rail2017.
  • For the London demonstration, contact Michael Pidgeon ([email protected], 07717531150).

  • For the Manchester demonstration, contact Darren Ireland ([email protected], 07817037019).

  • For the Cardiff demonstration, contact Brendan Kelly ([email protected], 07815967675)

  • For the Glasgow demonstration (17:00, 4th Jan), contact Gordon Martin (07884655217)

Country

From

To

Distance (miles)

Monthly season ticket cost

Monthly earnings

% of monthly earnings

UK

Luton

London St. Pancras

35

£387

£2,759

14%

UK

Liverpool Lime Street

Manchester Piccadilly

32

£292

£2,759

11%

Germany

Dusseldorf

Cologne

28

£85

£2,624

3%

France

Mantes-la-Jolie

Paris

34

£61

£2,545

2%

Italy

Anzio

Rome

31

£61

£2,015

3%

Spain

Aranjuez

Madrid

31

£75

£1,917

4%

  • Action for Rail looked at the price of monthly season tickets on two UK routes and on comparable routes in four EU countries. They compared this with 2015 mean annual full-time earnings, taken from OECD statistics.
  • Income and season ticket costs in Euro have been converted at a rate of 0.837, the Bank of England rate for 12 December 2016.
  • Figures for rail fare increases over the past ten years are taken from the ONS CPI index for rail fares, using the 1% cap for 2016 figures. Figures on wage increase are based on nominal average weekly earnings, and on the OBR forecast for 2016.
  • Action for Rail brings together the TUC, ASLEF, RMT, TSSA and Unite to work with passenger groups, rail campaigners and environmentalists to campaign against cuts to rail services and staffing and to promote the case for an integrated, national railway under public ownership. For more information about the actions please visit www.actionforrail.org

Contacts:
TUC/Action for Rail: Michael Pidgeon T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: [email protected]
ASLEF: Keith Richmond M: 07977 498 794 E: [email protected]
RMT: Geoff Martin M: 07831 465 103 E: [email protected]
TSSA: Carmel Nolan M: 07718 155 105 E: [email protected]
Unite: Shaun Noble M: 07768 693 940 E: [email protected]