UK Train Ticket Prices

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UK Train Ticket Prices

Most consumers in the United Kingdom perceive long-distance train ticket prices in the country to be unnecessarily expensive and disproportionate to the level of service the operators provide. A considerable percentage of consumers are dissatisfied with the ticket prices, given the fact that a lot of trains are delayed and overcrowded.

Consumer Perceptions

  • Based on the Autumn 2019 release of the National Rail Passenger Survey, the latest release of the semiannual survey that looks at how satisfied passengers in the United Kingdom are with rail travel, only 56% of rail passengers are satisfied with the value for money of the price of their long-distance train ticket.
  • Of 4,990 passengers, 56% are satisfied, 17% are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, and 27% are dissatisfied with the value for money of the price of their long-distance train ticket.
  • Among long-distance train operating companies (TOCs), namely, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, London North Eastern Railway, TransPennine Express, and Virgin Trains, East Midlands Railway is the TOC with the biggest percentage of dissatisfied passengers (31%), while Virgin Trains is the TOC with the smallest percentage of dissatisfied passengers (20%).
  • There was generally fury and outrage among rail passengers when a fare hike of 2.7% was implemented in January 2020. The annual cost of some long-distance routes has become more expensive by over £100 as a result of this fare hike.
  • Bruce Williamson of pressure group Railfuture, went as far as to say that the fare hike ushers in “another decade of misery for rail passengers.”
  • Some passengers expressed their anger and dissatisfaction with the ticket prices through protests and demonstrations.
  • In November 2018, when it was announced that rail fares will increase by an average of 3.1% by January 2019, passengers also became furious. Some let off steam on social media, while some left “angry notes on the back of train seats.”

Reasons Behind The Consumer Perceptions

  • William Rail Review’s evidence paper on “the user experience of the railway in Great Britain” offers some insight into the reason some passengers are dissatisfied with the price of their long-distance train ticket.
  • According to this paper, there is this feeling among some passengers that cost is not commensurate with service and that the railway system is exploiting and misleading passengers. One passenger noted that train fares have increased significantly even though the level of service has gotten “worse not better.” This passenger also argued that the train fare hikes are not justified.
  • The complexity, inconsistency, and lack of transparency of pricing structures all raise questions whether passengers are getting value for their money.
  • Around 66% of long-distance rail passengers say that cheaper fares would motivate them to ride the train more frequently.
  • When a fare hike was announced in January 2020, passengers were indignant because only less than 66% of trains were on time in 2019.
  • Some passengers could not believe that the government and the rail industry had the audacity to raise prices when a lot of trains are overcrowded and delayed.

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