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The great rail-fares rip-off will undermine the green potential of high-speed rail under short-sighted Con-Dem government plans to sell off Britain’s high-speed rail link, Britain’s biggest rail union says today from its annual conference in Aberdeen.

RMT logoWith rail users already reeling from news that the government will jack up commuter fares by as much as ten per cent, an RMT study shows that high-speed fares from Britain are already more than double those of publicly owned railways on mainland Europe (details below).

And with government plans to hive off High Speed One’s infrastructure on a 30-year lease, the union warns that the increased pressure to squeeze private profit from the infrastructure will result in even higher fares.

And that, warns RMT, will mean that the green potential for high-speed rail to encourage fewer short-haul flights in favour of environmentally friendly rail will be undermined as ordinary people are priced off trains.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said:

“High speed must be coupled with low fares and be accessible to all if it is to fulfill its potential as the green alternative to air and road travel.

“Europe’s publicly owned high-speed networks have brought significant shift from plane and car to rail - and one of the reasons they have been so successful is that they offer value for money.

“Our comparison speaks for itself: mile for mile high-speed fares from Britain are already 138 per cent higher than Belgium, 106 per cent higher than France, and 72 per cent higher than Italy, and the sell-off of High-Speed One can only make that worse.

“The need for any successful bidder to pay a dividend to shareholders is likely to feed through into even higher fares for passengers.”

RMT Study - comparison of high-speed rail fares

In summary UK high speed rail is

∑ 138% more expensive than Belgium

∑ 106% more expensive than in France

∑ 72% more expensive than Italy

∑ 63% more expensive than Spain

Route

Distance (km)

Ticket Price ( £)

Cost of ticket in £/km

London to Paris

341

106

0.31

Brussels to Frankfurt

727

91.50

0.13

Paris to Lyon

395

60.50

0.15

Milan to Rome

476

83.50

0.18

Madrid to Seville

390

73.50

0.19

Notes:

Information sourced from Rail Europe (http://www.raileurope.co.uk/).

Ticket prices calculated on the price of an afternoon single journey ticket for one adult booked one week in advance (queried on 22/06/2010 for a journey planned for 29/06/2010).

A single journey from London to Paris is more expensive than a return journey. A single journey costs £106 compared to a return journey which costs £94.50.

Route

Cost of ticket in £/km

Percentage difference between London to Paris £/km and other journeys £/km (%)

London to Paris

0.31

0

Brussels to Frankfurt

0.13

138.4615385

Paris to Lyon

0.15

106.6666667

Milan to Rome

0.18

72.22222222

Madrid to Seville

0.19

63.15789474

Average £/km in sample is 0.192 £/km

London to Paris £/km is 161% of the average £/km

Fares rip-off will blunt high-speed rail’s green potential, says RMT

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