Why is rail travel so dear in the UK?

Exhibit A Ipswich to London rail ticket at £75!!!

Consider Exhibit A, at nearly £76 for an Ipswich to London + tube + bus to the station ticket. This is the most expensive thing I have bought this month, with the exception of Council Tax. Ipswich is about 74 miles from London so why on earth is this so shockingly expensive. Rail apologists will say you can get it cheaper, and yes, you can, if you want to book the ticket three months ahead for a specific time and train out and back. All I wanted to do was go to a business meeting, leaving Ipswich after 9:30 and coming back some time the same day. A few years ago this would have cost £22 or so which is a fair price. Now, to even get an off peak ticket I have to return before 4:30 pm or after 7pm. So to do anything useful with a train ticket, like travelling the day after you book it and not risking ridiculous pettifogging penalties you have to pay up £70-odd.

I did this journey to a different part of London at the weekend, by car. I put £60 worth of petrol in the tank, I still have well over half of it left. Why is rail travel so damned expensive in the UK? For less than half the cost of this I can travel, return, from Hoek Van Holland to Amsterdam CS and back without all this penalty malarkey. Why do we make such a pig’s ear of it in Britain, persistently and consistently? What’s wrong with us? The only good think about this ticket is that I’m not stuck with the cost!


4 thoughts on “Why is rail travel so dear in the UK?”

  1. Only £75.90? A standard return from London to Ipswich appears to be £81.60 and you have zones 1-6 thrown in too. An unwarranted subsidy for provincials, clearly. I’ll complain. 🙂


  2. hehehe – well, after all you guys darn sarf have all the money while the rest of the country decays so I guess they have to allow for the inpecunious hicksmen 😉 They’re both about £50 OTT tho’


  3. Rail travel is horrendously expensive in the UK.

    As an example, it would cost me £65 a month to take the train from my Glasgow home to the grim concrete new town where my office is. This is a trip of roughly 8 miles each way and somehow manages to take 25 minutes.

    Or I can take the bus, which takes the same time and costs me £84 for 10 weeks.

    So while the bus isn’t so much fun, I prefer to save my £30/mth safe in the knowledge that a) I’m doing my bit for the environment and b) I’ll actually get a seat.


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