London's rail commuters pay up to four times as much as their EU counterparts, research from the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) reveals.
Commuters from Milton Keynes to London — a journey of 48.5 miles — pay £482.70 per month. Passengers in Italy travelling from Orte to Rome — 50 miles — pay just £116 (€130) per month. That means commuting to the Italian capital costs a quarter of the price of getting into London.
Similarly, commuters from Maidstone to London — 35 miles — pay £412.50 per month. Passengers in Germany travelling from Luckenwalde to Berlin — 36 miles — pay £99.80 (€111.67) per month. Again, commuting to another major European capital costs just a quarter of the journey to London.
Are things going to get better in the future for London's commuters? Well, possibly not. The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, says that rail prices will increase by no more than the rate of inflation. However, that inflation could come in as high as 4%, which would see another serious hike in prices. The exact percentage will be revealed on 15 August, when the RPI for July is released.
Bear in mind, of course that the RMT's collective opinion is that Britain's rails should be publicly owned. Says RMT General Secretary Mick Cash says:
Anger is mounting over the government's indifference to the plight of commuters and rightly so. The way that this minority administration turns a blind eye to the great British rail rip-off is an absolute disgrace.
It is a national scandal that UK passengers pay the largest proportion of their salaries in the EU just for travelling to and from work and are forced to endure unreliable and rammed out trains as part of the deal.
It is time that the government stopped foreign rail companies treating commuters as a bovine herd to be packed in and routinely milked with the proceeds shipped abroad to keep fares down in other European cities. The only solution to this racket is public ownership.
Cow metaphors aside, it's unlikely that the price of commuting into London is going to drop — or freeze in real terms — any time soon.