With the recent news that UK train prices are once again on the rise, we decided to look at the prices in Europe and compare our costs and efficiency with that of our neighbours. Are we getting a bad deal?
This January, another UK price increase came into effect, this time by an average of 3.4%. It is the largest increase since 2013 when prices rose by 3.9% and will see commuters paying £700 more than they did seven years ago
Many UK passengers may be willing to see the price of their train fares increase if they also found the trains to be more efficient and reliable as a result. Unfortunately, that is not the case. According to the Press Association, one in nine trains failed to meet the rail industry’s punctuality target over the last 12 months, with the Sunday Times reporting that 36% of UK trains arrive late. Additionally, passenger watchdog Transport Focus found that only 47% of passengers are said to be satisfied with a train ticket’s value for money.
Take a look at some of these shockingly late stats from some of the UK’s train providers.
As you can see from the graph provided, the UK finds itself in the top spot when it comes to train prices, costing commuters £0.50 per mile, with Holland and Sweden the next highest with £0.37 and £0.26 per mile.
These prices should indicate that because the UK is the most expensive, that must mean that they have the best service, but this is not the case.
Unfortunately, paying more doesn’t mean you get a better quality of service. The Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) 2017 European Railway Performance Index (RPI) report showed that Britain’s trains were only the 8th best in Europe.
Season tickets don’t favour the UK train companies either. A season ticket to take you between Liverpool and Manchester, which is 54km, will set you back around £3,000 per year. Compare that to Germany, and if you buy a BahnCard 100, which costs around £3,800, you can pretty much travel wherever you want to in the nation.
Another example is if you were to travel between Wokingham and London Waterloo. That’s about 32 miles between stops and that would cost around £3,200 per year. In Italy, you can travel virtually the same distance between Velletri and Rome for only £442 per year.
Analysis undertaken by the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) showed that while train fares rose 32% in eight years, the average weekly earnings only grew by 16%. This means that if someone has a salary of £20,000 commuting from Chelmsford to London each day, 20% of their salary would go towards train travel.
According to the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) for every pound spent on fares 97p goes back into improving and maintaining the railway. Speaking to Sky News, Stephen Joseph, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) said, "UK railways are more expensive than many European networks, partly due to the different ways the railways are operated here. "But it's also because passengers pay for the bulk of the running costs, despite the obvious economic and social benefits to the whole country from having a well-used rail network.
But fare revenue now covers the costs of running the railways and then some.
That's why we need simpler, fairer and cheaper rail fares, a freeze on any further rises and flexible season tickets to help the growing army of part-time workers - something most other European countries already offer."
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