St Albans commute is most expensive train journey in UK

ST ALBANS commuters were not surprised to learn this week that they were shelling out for one of the most expensive train journeys in the country, if not Europe, when they travel into London.

A feature on the BBC news site revealed what many have long known, that the route from St Albans to London is one of the priciest in the country with a season ticket costing �2,988 which works out at 31p a mile. A �10.60 single ticket costs 52p a mile.

Sandy Walkington, St Albans Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman, said the figures appeared to bear out claims he had repeatedly made that the city was one of the most expensive commuter stations in Europe.

He said: “It’s a reasonable leap. The Campaign for Better Transport reports that Britain has the most expensive fares in Europe. St Albans was the most expensive when we looked at other cities with rail commuter links a similar distance apart as St Albans is from London. Nobody has challenged my claim that it may be one of the most expensive routes in Europe.”

He said St Albans’ commuters were essentially trapped and train operators knew this, and so urged people to approach the matter politically: “People need to make sure the politicians they elect are asking the right questions.”

FCC claim their fares allow commuters to travel to any of the central London stations at which their trains call for the same fare, enabling their customers to travel to and from work without having to pay additional fares for bus or tube travel.

Other train operators to London, they say, issue tickets to named stations.

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A spokesperson said the cost per mile differed depending on which station the passenger gets off at, London Bridge costing 27p per mile and Blackfriars 28p per mile – with an annual season ticket.

n FCC revealed that their plan to extend Oyster Travelcard and Pay as You Go (PAYG) to St Albans was rejected last week.

The Department for Transport told the train operator that even though the proposed extension of Oyster PAYG has been under negotiation since October 2010, it wished to progress ITSO smart card technology instead.

The ITSO smart-ticketing technology, backed by the Government, would enable passengers to use a card at any station in the UK.

FCC said they believed the ITSO technology would not be ready before 2014.

A spokesperson for the company said: “The extension of Oyster would have been a major benefit to our customers but we recognise the additional benefits that nationally accepted ITSO-compliant cards will bring to integrated travel. FCC is fully committed to introducing this technology for the benefit of customers as early as possible.”