UK’s private rail fares six times public rates

Dan Smart

Workers in Britain spend six times as much of their salaries on privatised rail fares as Europeans who use publicly owned services, a new study has shown.

Research by trade union campaign Action for Rail has found UK passengers spend a whopping 13% of their pay packet on travel. Compare this with 2% in Italy, 3% in Spain, 4% in Germany and 10% in France.

The £375.90 monthly season ticket from Chelmsford to London would cost just £37 for the same 29-mile distance in Rome, where rail is publicly owned.


Prices have been rising above inflation for more than a decade. The latest annual ‘rail rip-off day’ increased fares by a further 1.1%. Mick Cash, general secretary of transport union RMT, said people in Britain would “awake to another kick in the teeth from the greedy private train companies.”

It is no surprise, then, that an overwhelming 62% of the population think that fares are exorbitant and support renationalisation of the railways.

Action for Rail estimates that, by taking rail franchises and their vast profits back into public ownership, passengers and taxpayers could save £1.5 billion over the next five years.

We could also use part of these resources to solve overcrowding and ageing infrastructure.

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to take railways back into public ownership – but only as contracts expire. This will take years, prolonging the misery and risking leaving the job half done.

Corbyn should take up the Socialist Party’s demand: renationalise all public transport immediately, with compensation paid only on the basis of proven need.