Our trains cost 5 times more than the rest of Europe – time to renationalise the railways?

There's no excuse for these fare hikes when you look at the cost of rail travel in Europe.

Commuters in the UK are paying up to five times more on train fares than commuters in other European countries, research from the TUC showed today.

And not only are we paying through the nose for public transport: the trains we’re using are the oldest since records began, research over the weekend showed.

Regular rail users are paying nearly 5 times more than commuters in Europe today’s research showed, which coincides with a hike in rail fares of nearly 4 per cent.

Today’s national increase in rail fares will see average fare increases of 3.4% and season ticket increases of 3.6%.

The research by the TUC looked at several comparable commutes in the UK and Europe, finding that:

  • A monthly season ticket from Chelmsford to London cost £381, or 13 per cent of their average earnings
  • A season pass for a similar length journey between Étampes and Paris cost £66 a month, or 2 per cent of average earnings. In Italy it was £65, or 3 per cent; and in Germany it was £188 or 4 per cent.

The train companies are taking commuters for a ride with these fare hikes — the European examples clearly show rail travel doesn’t need to be anywhere near this expensive.

Commenting on the hike in fares, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Many commuters will look with envy to their continental cousins, who enjoy reasonably-priced journeys to work.”

“Ultimately the government need to take our railways back into public hands. That will stop hundreds of millions being siphoned off by private rail firms, and allow us to put passengers first,” O’Grady added.

Calls for re-nationalisation of the railways were echoed by other trade union chiefs — and rightly so, with the public supporting the view.  60 per cent of people said earlier this year that trains should be publicly owned.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “While the British passenger is being pumped for cash, the same private companies are axing safety-critical staff and security on our trains and stations.” He continued:

“It’s a national scandal that private profit comes before public safety on our rail network.”

“The answer to this racket is a full return to public ownership of Britain’s railways and an end to this gross profiteering at the fare-payers expense,” Cash added.

The General Secretary of the TSSA, Manuel Cortes, said:

“every year UK passengers are forced to pay more to Holland, Germany, France and Italy all of whom currently own our train operating companies.”

“Yet, it’s all talk and no trousers when it comes to taking back control from the foreign companies who own large swathes of our infrastructure including our railways. Money made out of passengers here is invested in fare subsidies there.”

The Tories will have a tough time defending these fare rises in the face of widespread public anger. But with renationlising the railways a core policy, it’s a golden opportunity for Labour.

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2 Responses to “Our trains cost 5 times more than the rest of Europe – time to renationalise the railways?”

  1. patrick newman

    Not just a rip-off, the franchising system supports 20+ TOC’s each with their own ways of doing business and overheads and each in continual dispute with Network Rail when things go wrong. It is an incredibly inefficient way of running the railways which the public and the state pay through the nose for.

  2. Alasdair Macdonald

    And did the Labour Government of 1997/2010 renationalise? No.

    When the various East Coast mainline companies went belly up, a nationalised company took over and ran the line at a profit. And, what did Government do? Hand it back to private ‘enterprise’ because nationalised companies are ‘inefficient’.

    In opposition, Labour shouts about nationalisation. In Scotland, the terminally oppositionist Labour Party demands that Scotrail be taken into public ownership, despite restricting the powers of the Scottish Government.

    Of course, the railways should be nationalised and vertically integrated, but I am not holding my breath that Labour in power will do it. In fact, I am not holding my breath that Labour will be in power despite this incredibly venal, nasty sectional, incompetent government. There will be some version of Tory Government for the foreseeable future because England mainly votes Tory and Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales can just suffer it

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