Don Foster MP*

Government In Danger Of Driving Rail Passengers On To Congested Roads

Don Foster MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Secretary today warned Alistair Darling that he was in danger of driving commuters of the railways.

Mr Foster called on the Transport Secretary to look at ways to make fares more affordable, not less.

Main ImageMr Foster's comments come as the cap which keeps season ticket rises below the inflation rate was abolished signalling the start of rail fair increases. Last week Liberal Democrat research highlighted the poor value for money offered to British travellers compared to their counterparts elsewhere in Europe.

Mr Foster said:

"Britain's rail passengers already pay the highest fares in Europe, and get fewer miles for their money every year.

"Rail passengers need and deserve a safe, reliable and affordable railway.
But our rail fares are now going to rocket.

"Rail fares have increased in price by one-third in real terms since 1979, while the cost of motoring has actually fallen by 5%.

"Even more worrying is that fare increases could be matched by a cut in grants to train operating companies. Passengers are likely to see increased fares but no service improvements.

"Rising fare prices will not get persuade motorists to get out of their cars and cut congestion. Alistair Darling should be looking at how fares can be made more affordable, not less.


Notes to Editors
At present 10 will only take passengers 42 miles on the UK railway
For the same money you can travel more than three times as far in
Spain and over four times as far in Italy.
Fares on our railways are one-third more expensive now than in 1979
(taking inflation into account). 10 took you 63 miles in 1979.
Under this Labour Government rail fares have continued to increase -
increasing 8% since 1997.
The cost of rail fares is going up while motoring costs are going

1.) League Table for selected nations of how far can you travel on the railways for 10
Country Average fare (Per 100 miles) Distance travelled for 10 (in
miles) Comparison with UK
1. United Kingdom 23.83 41.96 x 1
2. Norway 22.75 43.96 x 1.05
3. Switzerland 21.66 46.17 x 1.1
4. Ireland 20.58 48.59 x 1.2
5. Germany 15.16 65.96 x 1.6
6. France 14.08 71.02 x 1.7
7. Finland 14.08 71.02 x 1.7
8. Austria 14.08 71.02 x 1.7
9. Sweden 10.83 92.37 x 2.2
10. Belgium 10.83 92.37 x 2.2
11. Denmark 9.75 102.56 x 2.4
12. Spain 7.58 131.93 x 3.1
13. Poland 5.42 184.50 x 4.4
14. Italy 5.42 184.50 x 4.4
15. Czech Republic 4.33 230.95 x 5.5
16. Slovakia 3.25 307.69 x 7.3
17. Hungary 3.25 307.69 x 7.3
NB: January 2003 fare per 100km for a typical journey of around 200km.
Standard class open ticket. Converted to equivalent at current exchange rates. Source: Thomas Cook European Railway Timetable, Jan 2003.

2.) Average distance travelled on the railways for 10 (taking inflation into account):
- 1979 = 63.1 miles for 10
- 1985 = 57.10 miles for 10
- 1991 = 51.13 miles for 10
- 1997 = 45.39 miles for 10
- 2001 = 43.8 miles for 10
- 2002 = 43.01 miles for 10
- 2003 = 41.96 miles for 10

(Data from Parliamentary Question Answer 81589, Office of National Statistics and (

3.) The cost of motoring fell by 5% between by 1979 and 2001 according to most recent figures (Parliamentary Answer 81589).

4.)The Liberal Democrats would introduce a National Railcard for all, similar to those found in Germany, Holland and Switzerland. This will replace the Network Railcard available, at present, only in the South East, and will provide - for a small one-off annual payment - 1/3 off fares in off-peak periods to encourage use of the network when demand is low at present. This scheme will be tailored to ensure no additional costs to the railways.

This article published: 19/06/2023

Published by Bath Liberal Democrats, 31 James St West, Bath, BA1 2BT. Printed and hosted by JPC Infonet, 2 St Georges Works, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AA. Your Privacy._blank


23 Hospital Beds are at risk in B&NES.


Contact Don
You can e-mail Don through this web site. Click here.


Local Lib Dems
Find out more about your local Liberal Democrats


E-Mail List
Enter your e-mail address in the box below, and we will keep you up to date with what your local MP is up to.

Site Search
Search our database of news stories, by entering keywords in to the box below, and hitting the button!