On 2 January 2014, as many people returned to work, Action for Rail campaigners held a demonstration outside Kings Cross Station to highlight rising rail fares and the failures of UK rail privatisation – calling for our railways to be brought back under public ownership.
Action for Rail’s analysis shows that commuters in the UK spend over three times more of their salaries on rail fares than passengers on publicly-owned railways in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
As an example, a UK worker on an average salary now spends 14% of their monthly salary on a £299 monthly season ticket from St. Albans to London St Pancras. Yet, workers making similar journeys in France and Germany spend around 4% of their salary on train fares, in Spain 3%, and in Italy just 1%.
Monthly season ticket (equivalent costs)
Monthly median earnings
% of monthly median earnings
London St Pancras
Regulated fares in the UK have risen four times faster than average wages – adding to the squeeze on living standards. Action for Rail believes that high rail fares are in part down to the additional costs of rail privatisation. The campaign group Transport for Quality of Life (TFQL) has shown that extra costs of over £1bn are incurred through a combination of dividend payments to private investors, administrative and legal costs, and debt write-offs. TFQL estimate that fare cuts of up to 18% could be achieved if these costs were eliminated by bringing services back within a nationally integrated railway under public ownership.
Take action now – Email your MP and ask them to support rail services that put passengers and taxpayers first. Ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion 419 and make their support known for publicly owned railways for Britain.
Sharon is a Policy Officer in the TUC's Organisation and Services Department, where she covers issues around public services and transport, including the TUC's involvement in the Action For Rail campaign and Speak Up For Justice campaign.