Fares farce adds up to £35 a week for millions of commuters

Fares farce adds up to £35 a week for millions of commuters

04 June 2018

Research by London’s independent passenger watchdog has shown that many commuters are paying up to £35 a week more than others – for the same length of journey.

Analysis by London TravelWatch shows massive differences in fares paid on different commuter routes into London, of roughly 21 miles. The worst-hit passengers travel from Hemel Hempstead, in Hertfordshire, to London, (21 miles) paying £92.90 for a weekly season ticket, while those travelling from Oxted, Surrey, to London (20 miles) pay £57.10. Passengers travelling from Sevenoaks in Kent to London are paying £87.50 for a weekly season ticket (21 miles).

As the table below shows, other weekly prices also varied enormously on similar types of commuter journey, underlining the wide discrepancies that baffle rail travellers. The research comes as the rail industry begins a public consultation on how to simplify fares and ticketing across the country. Confusion over fares is listed as one of the key reasons that passengers do not trust rail companies.

London TravelWatch Chair, Arthur Leathley commented: ‘The current arrangements make no sense and are blatantly unfair to hard-pressed commuters. London TravelWatch has pushed for simpler fares for passengers in around London for over 15 years but  the system is getting more and more confusing and unfair. Every time the fares increase by inflation, the gap between low and high fares gets even wider. That cannot be allowed to continue.’

With a statutory remit for both TfL and National Rail services in and around London, the watchdog is particularly well placed to see how these fares discrepancies affect passengers buying tickets and using Oyster or contactless payments for journeys in London as well as those making longer distance journeys to places like Manchester, Plymouth or Edinburgh.

Arthur Leathley continued: ‘We have secured some big wins for passengers, pushing for the introduction of simpler zonal fares in London and the extension of Oyster Pay As You Go, and  we have seen the positive impact of the extension of Oyster to Gatwick Airport.

Another inconsistency is that rail passengers travelling to Gatwick and Heathrow airports can use Oyster or contactless payments but those travelling to Stansted or Luton airports are still not able to. At Stansted Airport the number of people penalised for not realising they can’t use Oyster has increased from zero to 16,000 a year over the past two years. London TravelWatch will help to shape this consultation, ensuring that the particular needs of passengers travelling in and around London are properly represented.’

Previous research by London TravelWatch also showed confusion among passengers buying annual season tickets, with many people unwittingly buying expensive tickets that they did not need.

Further information

  • London TravelWatch is the operating name for the London Transport Users Committee. We are the official watchdog representing the interests of transport users in and around London, including all major London stations. The watchdog is independent of transport operators and government. London TravelWatch is sponsored and funded by the London Assembly, part of the Greater London Authority.
  • A series of videos on our YouTube channel featuring our Chair, Arthur Leathley highlight the unfairness in the current fares and ticketing system.
  • The table below gives examples of variations in commuter fares in and around London in 2018.

Commuter station

Distance to London terminus station (miles)

Weekly season ticket price

Operator(s)

Passengers using station each year (millions) 2016/17

Hemel Hempstead

21

£92.90

London North Western Railway

 

2

Amersham

23.5

£88.70

Chiltern/London Underground

2

Sevenoaks

21

£87.50

Govia Thameslink/Southeastern

4.2

Harlow Town

22

£83.60

Greater Anglia

1.9

Woking

24.5

£81.20

South Western Railway

8

Gatwick Airport

26.75

£78.60

Govia Thameslink

19.4

Shenfield

20.25

£76.30

TfL Rail/Greater Anglia

3.7

Welwyn Garden City

20

£73.10

Govia Thameslink

3

Redhill

21

£68.60

Govia Thameslink

3.7

Slough

18.5

£65.70

Great Western Railway

5.7

Staines

19

£65.40

South Western Railway

2.8

Grays

19.5

£59.40

c2c

4

Oxted

20

£57.10

Govia Thameslink

1.5

  • Follow London TravelWatch on Twitter and You Tube.
  • For more information, please contact the London TravelWatch press office on 020 3176 5941 or 07734 055494.
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