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Only a quarter of train commuters can afford season tickets, as 74% borrow money or save up in advance

A study undertaken by pan-European train comparison and booking platform, Loco2, has revealed that only 26 percent of UK train commuters can afford to buy their annual season ticket, with 74 percent borrowing money (56%), or saving up in advance (18%).

The study of train season ticket holders in the UK was launched by the ‘low CO2’ travel company Loco2 in anticipation of January’s train fare price hike of 3.1 percent. The study asked 696 train season ticket holders how they pay for their season ticket; why they think the train operators increase the price, and whether they have considered avoiding trains due to the price rise.

As almost two-thirds of train commuters struggle to afford their annual season ticket (74%), 28 percent said they have no idea why they pay more each year. The respondents who speculated about the reasons for the annual price rise suggested the following reasons: inflation (27%); better tracks and stations (14%); fuel cost increase (10%); a reduction in government funding or subsidisation (10%); more train staff (9%); newer trains and more seats (2%).

The commuters who said they borrow money to pay for their train season ticket (56%), said they borrow from the following sources:

  1. Credit card – 21%
  2. Loan from employer – 19%
  3. Friends and family – 6%
  4. Bank loan – 5%
  5. Official commuter finance company (i.e. Commuter Club) – 5%

When train commuters were asked if they had looked for alternatives to catching a train, 43 percent said they had. When asked which modes of transport they considered as an alternative, the top five were:

  1. Car – 72%
  2. By foot – 13%
  3. Bike – 5%
  4. Bus – 5%
  5. Underground -3%

Cristina Astorri, Vice President of Marketing at Loco2 comments on the findings:

“After this year’s struggles faced by train passengers, the price rise is a bitter pill to swallow for commuters – especially as they aren’t sure why they are paying more, and what extra value or improvements they are getting for their money.

“Our train geeks at Loco2 regularly speak to train users, and too often the cost of train travel is the main reason for choosing less environmentally-friendly modes of transport, such as driving – or flying if they are travelling into Europe.

“Our main priority is making trains more accessible, in the interest of the environment, and it’s clear that if train operators were more transparent about how the fares are spent, and why the cost increase is necessary, passengers would be much more understanding. Until this shift in behaviour happens, the operators will be treated with hostility, or trains will only be used when absolutely necessary.”

A blog about ways that train users can save money can be found here.

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