Andy Burnham just pointed out how bad rail fares are in the UK

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Train fares are a terrible rip off in the UK. No news there. But just how much of a racket they have become may surprise you. Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has dug up some comparisons which really bring home how bad things have got.

Burnham decided to compare ticket fees to international flights. And what he found was off the scale:

That’s right. An advanced ticket to various locations on literally the other side of planet Earth will set you back less than a visit to see your mate or your nan or go sightseeing in London.

In a piece for the Evening Standard, Burnham said this was wrong on many metrics:

For as long as train tickets cost more than plane tickets, the economics of transport in the UK will be in entirely the wrong place when it comes to facing up the climate crisis. But the truth is it unlikely to change any time soon.


For doubters, Burnham screen-grabbed the results of a ticket search and tweeted that too:

Incredibly unfair, you might say. And you’d be right. While some people attacked Burnham’s claims, many other social media users seemed to agree:

Indeed, some people were all-caps level shocked at some of the responses:

European comparisons

But you don’t even have to travel the entire globe to find out how badly scammed UK train users are. Right next door in mainland Europe, comparative fares are a fraction of the price:

London to Manchester is a 164-mile trip that costs £369.40, according to Burnham’s estimate. According to the Trainline website, a return trip from Paris to Nantes would set you back just over £115. That is for a 212-mile journey.

A comparable trip from Barcelona to Valencia, taking in the fabulous Spanish coastline (as opposed to the delights of Crewe and Birmingham New Street), would cost you £85.59.

Travelling from Rome to Naples, and coming back tomorrow, would cost you £81.64.

Stitched up

Whether you compare it to the cost of travelling internationally, or the price our neighbours pay for a European train trip, transport in the UK is an absolute mess. People are being priced out of opportunities by money-grabbing firms and a government which refuses to even make fares affordable, let alone consider renationalising public transport.

It’s time for a serious campaign to make public transport affordable again for everyone.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Fsheng666, cropped to 770 x 403, licenced under CC BY-SA 4.0

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  • Show Comments
    1. “make public transport affordable again” is incorrect. Train travel in the UK has always been extremely expensive, probably more than any other nation, since 1825. There was an attempt to force the private rail companies in the late Victorian era to provide cheap fares at a penny per mile. The companies cheated by providing only the bare legal minimum of one per day at the most inconvenient times, just as they do now with their special offers and the risible “Great British Rail Sale”. We need a new start, and full public ownership is only part of it.

      1. Very true. There are countries far poorer than the UK who manages to offer transport and Wi-Fi included in The PEOPLE’S Tax Package, I doubt they pay anywhere near as much tax either.
        I love Andy, I always thought he would be a great Leader for the UK Labour Party, but the biggest problem for Andy and the 10/15 Democratic Socialist UK Labour Party MPs, is that they Speak ‘UK Labour Party’, but from within the disaster that is The Parasite Party, the Neo-Labour Party TORIES, it is completely pointless and in many ways doing a disservice to Democratic Socialists and the Working Class. For their best intentions they want to improve people’s lives, but the Thatcherite Neoliberal Neo-Labour Party TORIES made it perfectly clear on enough occasions that they are not FOR The PEOPLE, but FOR The Elites/Establishment/Commissions! So what Andy and Co ‘speak’ and are able to offer are two different things. Sure, the Neo-Labour Party TORIES throw a few positively worded policies to The PEOPLE, once in a while, but so did The Inbred Ogre, so did BLiar! Fine words and promises can be cheap nothings, it is the actions people need to look at!
        Anyway, Andy, Zarah, Apsana, Bel, etc and the other handful are wasted in that vile TORY Party, I wish they would make an exit and create something as the beginnings of a Party worthy of a vote!

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