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Do rail passengers get value for money? Ipswich to London is UK’s most expensive trip per mile

PUBLISHED: 12:10 03 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:55 03 September 2017

Ipswich railway station. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich railway station. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Ipswich to London train service has been valued as the most expensive fare in the country per mile.

Commuters pay around 71p per mile of travel from Ipswich to London Liverpool Street for a regular, standard peak single fare, which is the most expensive journey in the country per mile, the Sunday Times reports today.

A single turn-up-and-travel peak fare costs £49.20 for the approximate 68-mile journey from Ipswich to London Liverpool Street.

But the region’s train operator Greater Anglia insists a wide range of offers, including some advance fares which work out at 14p per mile and season tickets which work out at 22p per mile, ensures passengers receive “excellent value”.

• It comes after Greater Anglia increased rail fares by just under 2% in January.

The investigation, designed to gauge the value offered to travellers by rail operators around the country, found huge variations in rates for trips. Per mile, some rail users paid more than five times as much as others.

A 20-mile trip from London Bridge to Sevenoaks costs 61p a mile. A journey of the same length from Grays, Essex, to London Fenchurch Street costs 30p a mile.

Elsewhere, travellers from London to Didcot paid Great Western 59p a mile.

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin said: “Through no fault of their own, the Ipswich public travelling to London to work are being ripped off by a system which is unfair. I don’t think there should be such differences like this and I think we have got a very big case for demanding a more sensible price for the peak travel.

“It is putting off people who get jobs in London and live in Ipswich. It makes no sense to be putting them off with these sorts of fares. Several people during the election campaign mentioned the price of fares to London. One of the first things I did after settling into the role was to get my parliamentary researcher to look at comparative prices around the country, so am I already on the case. I have already decided that something needs to be done about this.

“It just makes no sense for people in Ipswich to have to pay more to travel to London than anybody else in the country and I am sure we can get something done about it before too long.”

He said that despite the ongoing investment by Network Rail and Greater Anglia, passengers should be charged a fair price, adding: “People have been charged over the odds for years. Why should it be cheaper to travel from Ipswich to Manningtree and get another ticket from Manningtree to London? It has been patently obvious to everybody for a long time that we are being overcharged.”

Derek Monnery, from the Essex Federation of Rail Users, said: “It is a nightmare getting to London at the moment. Passengers are angry and frustrated with the quality of service, poor trains, poor infrastructure.

“On a daily basis they are suffering late trains, cancelled trains. Only last week, a train broke down just before the start of the peak rush hour, blocking the line for four hours. It should just not be happening.

“On Facebook, I have read comments that Greater Anglia couldn’t run a bath. I have never known such anger. People are very cross, and are not prepared to pay more until it all improves. We pay two or three times as much as people in France and Germany. We need things to get an awful lot better.”

Greater Anglia has previously said its £1.4 billion revamp, in which its entire fleet will be replaced with 169 new trains, will improve reliability. The train operator won the nine-year franchise last summer.

A Greater Anglia spokesman said: “The Sunday Times article does not take into account the wide range of fares we offer, which are aimed at providing excellent value for our passengers. We also offer an ‘online best price’ guarantee to ensure customers do not pay more for their ticket.

“By booking in advance, or buying season tickets if travelling for work, passengers can make big savings on the single peak fare and travel from Ipswich to London for as little as 14p per mile.”

“We are constantly working to improve services and offer better value for money to our customers. We are currently investing huge amounts in the railway in East Anglia including £1.4 billion to replace every single train with brand new trains from 2019 and we’re spending £60 million improving stations.”

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