Belfast Telegraph

London commuters 'pay up to four times more than Europeans for capital trains'

The cost of commuting into London by rail is up to four times what passengers on the Continent pay for travelling into their capital cities, according to a new study.

Research by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union found that passengers travelling into London every day are paying much more than workers in Europe for similar length journeys.

The Rail Delivery Group said the union was not comparing like with like.

The RMT report said that:

:: Passengers travelling from Basildon to London (around 27 miles) pay £264.60 a month, whereas those in Belgium travelling from Antwerp to Brussels (around 28 miles) pay £127.80 (143 euros).

:: Passengers travelling from Maidstone to London (around 35 miles) pay £412.50 month, while in Germany travelling from Luckenwalde to Berlin (around 36 miles) costs £99.80 (111.67 euros).

:: Passengers travelling from Milton Keynes to London (around 48.5 miles) pay £482.70 a month, whereas passengers in Italy travelling from Orte to Rome (around 50 miles) pay £116 (130 euros).

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Anger is mounting over the Government's indifference to the plight of commuters and rightly so. The way that this minority administration turns a blind eye to the great British rail rip-off is an absolute disgrace.

"It is a national scandal that UK passengers pay the largest proportion of their salaries in the EU just for travelling to and from work and are forced to endure unreliable and rammed out trains as part of the deal.

"It is time that the Government stopped foreign rail companies treating commuters as a bovine herd to be packed in and routinely milked, with the proceeds shipped abroad to keep fares down in other European cities. The only solution to this racket is public ownership."

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: "The RMT isn't comparing like with like because it ignores that passengers here often have more frequent trains and better journey times.

"Investment in rail, especially in London, is improving journeys and connecting the country better now and for the long term. Government, which sets increases to season tickets, expects passengers as well as taxpayers and train companies to contribute to funding this."

Passengers will find out later this month how much rail fares will increase by in the new year as they are based on the rate of inflation to be announced on August 15.

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