UK commuters 'pay more for trains'
Some UK rail commuters, facing 6% average fare rises next week, are already paying almost 10 times more for their season tickets than their European counterparts, according to new figures.
The price of a 2011 season ticket from Woking in Surrey to London, including Tube travel in the capital, is £3,268. Yet a similar 22-mile journey from Velletri to Rome costs Italian season ticket holders £336.17, statistics from the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) showed.
Similar journeys of around 21-24 miles in other European countries reveal that rail travellers on the continent are paying far less for their trains.
According to the CBT figures, which include the equivalent of multi-modal travel tickets on each city's underground systems, an annual season for the 24-mile journey from Ballancourt-sur-Essonne to Paris costs £924.66.
The cost of a season ticket on the 21-mile Strausberg to Berlin route is £705.85, while the 22-mile Collado-Villalba to Madrid journey costs Spanish season ticket holders £653.74.
From January 2, UK regulated fares, which include season tickets, are rising by an average of 6%, with the overall average rise for all tickets being 5.9%.
The Government had planned to increase the annual price rise formula by 2% in January 2012, which would have meant regulated fares rising 8%. Chancellor George Osborne announced last month that the rise would be limited to 6%, but the Government still plans annual rises of RPI inflation plus 3% for January 2013 and January 2014.
CBT's public transport campaigner Sophie Allain said: "When the cost of season tickets is so much higher than other European capitals, the Government's fare rises are starting to affect the UK's competitiveness. That's why if the Government is serious about promoting economic growth it must also look at reducing planned fare rises in 2013 and 2014 as part of a policy to cut fares and make public transport truly affordable."
A Department for Transport spokesman said: "Better value for fare-payers and taxpayers can only be achieved if the rail industry works together to reduce inefficiency, and we will be publishing our rail reform plans early next year."