Some rail fares in the South East are over four times higher than for comparable journeys in mainland Europe – as the campaign to bring the railways back into public hands is back in the spotlight.
Brighton and Hove Green MP Caroline Lucas is due to lead the second reading of her Private Member’s Bill in the Commons this Friday (January 22) and South East Greens have been comparing train fares. A commuter with an annual season ticket from Woking to London terminals pays £3080 a year for their 22 mile journey. For similar length journeys and also for annual tickets, their counterpart in France travelling to Paris from the commuter town of Ballancourt-sur-Essonne pays £566.89; in Germany, Strausberg to Berlin costs £714.13 and in Spain Collado-Villalba to Madrid is £603.70 (all converted from Euros so may vary). Even the most expensive of those is more than four times cheaper.
South East Green Party Chair Cllr Jonathan Essex said: “South East train travellers are getting a poor deal from privatised rail companies – with any profits steaming out of the window to shareholders, ironically including the national French rail company.”
At the same time one of the privatised South East train companies – Govia Thameslink Railways Ltd – is proposing cutting 400 guard/conductor jobs from its trains, leading to fears of increased risks to passenger safety.
“In a bid to cut costs and make more profits, services are often poor and unreliable, as well as expensive, and now passenger safety could be compromised by a driver-only service on the Thameslink trains. Let’s support Caroline Lucas’ Bill and get rail back on the right track”, said Cllr Essex.
Notes to editors
- The French journey is 24 miles, German 21 miles, Spanish 22 miles. All these tickets allow for travel in the capital, as well as to the mainline terminal. For the Woking example the onward journey by tube or bus needs to be paid for in addition.
- Average earnings in the UK are slightly higher than in the other countries mentioned, but not four times higher!
- SNCF (the French state rail company) has a majority stake in Keolis, which is a minority partner in the Govia operating company, which runs the Thameslink, Southern and South Eastern train services.
- Information on guard cuts in a letter (January 18 2016) from Mick Cash, General Secretary of the RMT Union, to Cllr Jonathan Essex