UK rail passengers 'paying ten times more than French counterparts'

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As rail fare increases are announced, the rail union RMT says that British passengers are paying more than ten times the French equivalent, and rail fares are rising twice as fast as UK wages.

RMT says a commuter in France pays £268, just one per cent of the average annual salary, for a season ticket from Ballancourt-sur-Essonne to Paris. A commuter from Cheshunt to London pays £3200 for a comparable journey – which is 10 per cent of the average salary in the UK. That is because fares have increased at twice the speed of wages since 2010, according to updated research by RMT.

The union says its analysis shows that rail fares have risen by around 32 per cent in nine years, while average weekly earnings have only grown by 16 per cent using the Retail Price Index measure (RPI). Even if fares were pegged at the more modest Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure, for which many commentators have called, fares would have still risen 36 per cent faster than wages over the same time period.

Commuting from Gravesend to London on the high speed Javelin service, where an annual season ticket currently costs £5828, is 18 per cent of average annual earnings. This is more than twice the percentage of annual earnings paid by a German commuter on an high speed ICE service going from Dusseldorf to Cologne (£2976 or eight per cent of average earnings). After the latest rise, the UK commuter will be paying nearly a fifth of their salary on an annual season ticket.

An early train today from London to Bristol will cost a passenger £99, but an Italian doing a comparable journey to Bologna from Milan will pay only a third of the price at £34.

RMT says that if private profit was removed from the industry, passengers could enjoy both a fare reduction and adequate numbers of rail staff being employed to help passengers at stations and on trains with information, security, safety and accessibility.

To bring this to the public’s attention, rail workers will be protesting at stations around the country on August 15 2018.

The RMT Genera,l Secretary Mick Cash, said: "Despite all the timetable chaos and service and staff cuts our rail fares are up to fivees more than fares in Europe and are rising twice as fast as wages. That is nothing short of a scandal.

“Even if fares were pegged at the more modest CPI, these latest increases would still massively outstrip wages, leaving the British passenger to pay through the nose to travel on rammed out and unreliable services. Meanwhile the rail companies, the majority of whom are foreign state owned, are using the British transport system as a cash-cow to hold down their own domestic fares. That is a nonsense and must be stopped.

“It’s is no wonder that passengers numbers are falling when they are paying more and more for less and less. The rail industry is in crisis and RMT is arguing for a massive cash injection paid for by ending the profiteering on our railway. This would mean passengers could enjoy both fare cuts and safe levels of staffing. This latest kick in the teeth for passengers is another nail in the coffin for privatisation and it is now a question of when, not if, our railways are nationalised.”

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