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South East passengers pay out over £9,000 a year

3 March 2015

Long distance commuters are spending over £9,000 to get to work in London, new figures reveal today.


They are spending over a third of average earnings - £26,500 - to make their expensive daily journeys into the capital, according to independent research carried out in twenty of the most marginal seats across the South East.

The most expensive annual season ticket is from Swindon to London, £8,200, plus annual parking ticket, £1052, (total £9,252), followed by Great Yarmouth to London, £7,668, plus annual  parking ticket, £546 (total £8214) and then Peterborough to London, £7,276, plus annual parking ticket, £1,222 (total £8,498), said fares expert Barry Doe who carried out the research for the TSSA rail union.

Launching a Southern Fares Discomfort campaign, highlighting how much commuting costs have risen in marginal seats since rail privatisation 20 years ago, union leader Manuel Cortes said: "It is an absolute disgrace the enormous burden that has been heaped on commuters shoulders since the railways were sold off twenty years ago. Those on average earnings are paying a third of their salaries just to get to work, the equivalent of funding a £200,000 mortgage every year.

"Season tickets were meant to protected when the railways were sold off. But while commuters and their families have suffered a harsh squeeze on their household budgets , with annual tickets doubling in many cases since 1995, the Fat Controllers running the private rail firms have seen their own salaries rocketing ahead."*

He called on Labour leader Ed Miliband to announce a 12-month long rail fares freeze as part of an overall review of private rail franchises if he wins the General Election in May.

"It is time to stop the annual persecution of commuters who have no alternative to paying these prohibitive and punishing increases. Recent figures from the ORR showed that passengers paid out £9 billion last year while the private rail firms made a net contribution of just £43 million to the industry. Labour must put to a stop to this racket."**


The Top Ten Marginal Seats For Rail Fair Rises

The Cost To Southern Commuters of the Great Rail Sell Off - The Squeeze on Household Budgets

Constituency Annual ticket 1995 2015 Increase
Swindon Annual ticket £4,250 £8,200 93%
  Peak return £40 £124 210%
Great Yarmouth Annual ticket £4,920 £7,668 56%
  Peak return £56 £109.70 96%
Peterborough Annual ticket £3,896 £7,296 87%
  Peak return £39 £ 100 156%
Reading Annual ticket £2376 £4188 76%
  Peak return £18.60 £44.30 138%
Ipswich Annual ticket £3280 £6148 87%
  Peak return £33 £76.70 132%
Brighton Annual ticket £2388 £4408 85%
  Peak return £25.40 £51.30 102%
Crawley Annual ticket £1968 £3476 77%
  Peak return £16.80 £34.10 103%
Sevenoaks Annual ticket £1616 £3288 103%
  Peak return £10.70 £21.80 104
Chatham Annual ticket £1940 £3876 100%
  Peak return £17 £33.30 96%
Thurrock Annual ticket £1620 £2236 38%
(Tilbury) Peak ticket £5.40 £11.40 111%


* Tim O'Toole, chief executive at First Group, which runs the FGW fracnhise from Swindon to London was paid £1.99 million last year. FGW also has the highest increase in peak fares since privatisation, 246% between Paddinton and Bristol(Research by Barry Doe for TSSA, January 2015).

** Publicly owned East Coast, sold to Sir Richard Branson and Sir Brian Souter at the weekend, made a £1 billion return to taxpayers over its six years in public hands. Virgin, by contrast, has received public subsidies of £2.5 billion between 1997 and 2012 while paying out dividends of almost £500 million(TSSA Research Dept, 2014).

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