British rail prices highest in Europe: report

20th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Rail fares are on average higher in Britain than in the rest of Europe, reveals customer watchdog’s report.

LONDON – Rail fares are on average at least 50 percent higher in Britain than in the rest of Europe, a study for the government showed Thursday.

The report by customer watchdog Passenger Focus, requested by the government, also found that commuters were broadly happy with the service but thought they were bad value for money.

"Travellers in Great Britain are generally paying much more than they pay on the continent," Guy Dangerfield from Passenger Focus told BBC radio.

"Generally speaking, people are paying between half as much again and twice as much here as they are elsewhere.

"During a period of recession, it is untenable to continue with above inflation fare increases. The consequences for passengers are too severe."

The report found that in Britain, long-distance turn-up-and-go fully flexible return fares to the principal city (London) were 1.87 times more expensive than in Germany, the next most-expensive country surveyed.

They were 3.31 times more expensive than in the cheapest country studied, the Netherlands.

British annual season tickets for journeys of no more than 25 miles (40 kilometres) were 1.88 times pricier than the next most-expensive country, France, and 4.19 times more expensive than Italy, the cheapest country.

Some long-distance advance tickets to London were cheaper than comparable fares to other European big cities, and train frequency was generally higher than on the continent.

The Department of Transport noted train fares in continental Europe were heavily subsidised. "The government is committed to sharing the cost of rail services fairly between taxpayers and passengers," said a spokesman.

Theresa Villiers of the main opposition Conservatives, said: "Passengers have been forced to put up with eye-watering fare hikes in return for overcrowding levels that exceed 170 percent on the worst services - so it's little wonder they feel they are not getting value for money."

British fares were compared to those in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

AFP / Expatica

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