The trade union-backed campaign Action for Rail has organised protests today at 200 railway stations across the UK over New Year fare increases.
The action coincides with the coming into effect of an average 1.1% average rise in the cost of train tickets – the smallest in six years – reflecting the low July 2015 RPI inflation rate.
Action for Rail research says that commuters in the UK spend up to six times as much (13%) of their salaries on monthly season tickets for a 50km journey as do their counterparts in cities in European countries including France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
The largest differences are between London (where the route from Chelmsford was chosen for comparison) and Barcelona (3%) and Rome (2%). Only Paris comes close, at 10%.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of the Transport Focus watchdog, said: 'In some parts of the country, given rail performance has been so dire, passengers will be amazed that there are any fare rises at all'.
Citing the results of a December 2015 survey of UK adults it commissioned from pollster YouGov, Action for Rail says that 61% thought that train services in the UK were bad value for money, while only 54% found that their services were punctual.
A significant majority (62%) supported bringing rail operators back into public ownership, which is now official Labour Party policy.
The campaign also highlights TUC findings that operating all routes in the public sector would, over the period 2015-2020, save £1.5bn which could be invested in cheaper tickets.