Andy Burnham has highlighted the staggering cost of rail travel in the UK by pointing out it’s cheaper to fly to Jamaica than to get a train from Manchester to London. In a tweet that has been liked more than 14,000 times, the Mayor of Greater Mancheste r shared a screenshot of £369.40 anytime return ticket from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston for Monday morning.
He then compared that to the cost of flying to far-flung destinations such as Jamaica, Brazil, India and the Ivory Coast. Mr Burnham, a long-time campaigner for cheaper rail fares, raised the issue in the week it was announced some train tickets are set to be slashed by as much as half as the Government looks to address cost-of-living pressures with discounted travel in April and May.
In what is being dubbed the Great British Rail Sale, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said more than one million train tickets would be reduced this spring. The discounted tickets went on sale on Tuesday, with passengers eligible to travel for less on off-peak fares between April 25 and May 27.
READ MORE: ‘Meaningless soundbite’ or a good way to get passengers back on track? The Great Rail Sale has sparked debate
But writing in the Evening Standard, Mr Burnham said the sale was ‘an admission from the government that rail fares in this country are way too high’. He added: “For as long as train tickets cost more than plane tickets, the economics of transport in the UK will be in entirely the wrong place when it comes to facing up the climate crisis. But the truth is it unlikely to change any time soon.
“This is one of the most frustrating things about the ‘Great British Rail Sale’. It comes one month after the biggest hike in rail fares for nine years. It also excludes the railway’s most loyal and long-suffering customers — daily commuters — who do not have the luxury of being able to travel off-peak.”
Mr Shapps, referring to the end of coronavirus restrictions in a video to advertise the sale, said: “We’ve had two years of living life virtually. It is time to get real and visit our beautiful country.”