#farefail and the cost of rail travel in Britain: a snapshot of life for Folkestone commuters

The story of dramatic rail fare rises in Britain is one of the great annual journalistic staples, along with pretty girls jumping for joy at their exam results around August and the inevitable autumn warnings that a big freeze is on its way.

Today the MailOnline reports, screaming headline and all, that manual workers in Birmingham are paying more than a fifth of their wages on commuting. Pretty shocking to some I’m sure, but surely not the worst of it by any stretch. As I tweeted earlier:


This prompted me to do a little light digging. Was my hunch right, or are the working people of Birmingham really experiencing the nation’s worst #farefail?

Let’s take a simple scenario. A young person, living in Folkestone, commuting to an entry-level job in the capital paying an annual salary of £21,000 – the level at which university debt will be repayable under the new system of student finance.

This would give them, not taking into account student loan payments or pension contributions, a take-home pay cheque of £1,386.86 every month.

So how does this stack up against the cost of simply getting to London to take up this job?

A monthly season ticket with with Southeastern from Folkestone Central to London, not valid on high speed services, costs £442.80. Or 31.9 per cent of their pay packet.

Alternatively, a season ticket to London St Pancras from Folkestone Central, valid on high speed services and allowing the journey to be made in just under an hour each way, costs £530.70 each month. Or a staggering 38.3 per cent of our fictional commuter’s take-home pay.

Shocking. And even more so because this isn’t a work of fiction. This is the harsh reality facing thousands of people every day as they struggle to afford to get to work on Britain’s eye-wateringly expensive railway network. I think #farefail is putting it kindly.

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PLEASE NOTE: Figures in this post were taken from the National Rail season ticket calculator and the ever-useful Listen to Taxman.






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