UK passengers footing more of the bill as rail subsidy falls

Passengers covered almost 60 per cent of the UK rail network’s costs between 2012-13.

New figures from the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) show that between 2012-13 fare income rose by 3.6 per cent to £7.7 billion, while the government’s contribution fell by 4.2 per cent to £4 billion – just over 30 per cent of total income.

Despite a growth in both passenger and freight traffic, the cost of running Britain’s railways remained fairly static at £12.3 billion.

The figures did reveal a substantial disparity between the amount of government funding for services across the UK, which ranged from £2.19 per passenger journey in England, to £7.60 per journey in Scotland, and £9.33 per journey in Wales.

ORR chief executive Richard Price said: “Britain’s rail industry receives substantial income from passengers and taxpayers. People have a right to know where the money goes and what it helps deliver. ORR welcomes the industry’s support in compiling this report. It demonstrates a real step forward for the rail sector, which, with ORR’s help, is developing a stronger culture of openness and transparency, and providing more detailed data on costs, income and fares.

“Passengers are increasingly the main funder of the railways, and must be central to developing its plans for the future. ORR is working to put passengers at the heart of the railways – working with the industry to ensure passenger groups have a greater say in plans and delivery of new enhancements to the rail network; to review the quality of information provided to passengers during the recent disruptions; and to establish a code of practice on rail ticket selling.”