The cost of UK Train Travel

Why its a price the public should not be paying

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The public transport of the UK is one which is envied by many across the world. The vast infrastructure of our train network, although not in the best shape its ever been, is still relatively decent. However, the faith in UK trains is hit once it comes to buying tickets. The price of a train ticket in the UK is on most journeys, higher than one would think. In this new age of needing to find alternative modes of transport to encourage people away from buying cars, then the cost of a train ticket needs to be addressed.

In January 2019, a report into the cost of train travel identified that people in the UK pay 54 pence per mile on train journeys. This is the second most expensive in Europe, behind Norway.

Privatisation of the railway in the UK, which took place between 1994 and 1997, is one factor which has led to this increase in train fares. It is estimated that by 2016, the costs of some routes had rocketed an eye-watering 245%. The ending of public ownership of Britain’s railways has hit the people hard.

A further criticism of the hefty costs is an uneven distribution of the subsidies from the railway. Train chiefs has said that 98 pence of every pound goes into the running of the railways to make improvements; the problem is that some areas benefit more than others. For example, A study by a think-tank found more than half of the UK’s total spending on transport networks is invested in London.

An estimated £1,943 is spent per person in the English capital on current or planned projects, compared with just £427 in the North. This has left several train networks outside of the capital barely fit for use, proving further that the London bubble has disregarded the rest of the UK when it comes to train travel.

Climate change is testing how we as a species plan the coming years. Cleaner fuel alternatives for our cars are coming, gradually, but if the government are serious about tackling climate change then a genuine effort to move people away from cars where possible is needed. The best place to start with this is by reducing the costs of rail fare, making it more affordable for people to travel by rail more often.

Affordable train fare would also have a positive impact on the UK tourist scene. At the moment, package holidays mean that it is far more justifiable to fly to continental Europe than to drive or take public transport to a UK holiday destination.

This is made even more justifiable when an open return from London down to Exeter, Devon being a holiday hotspot in the UK, comes to over £120 for one adult. This is a two-hour direct journey, and one which shouldn’t break the bank in the way that it so clearly does.

The vast railway network within the UK helped to build the nation during the Industrial Revolution. Now, over 150 years later, the network is more important than ever except rather than moving coal and steel around the country, one of its main purposes is to provide a reasonable alternative to cars as the UK, and the world, continues to battle climate change.

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I am a journalist with an honours degree from Coventry University. Passionate writing about politics, culture, sport, society and more

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