Published: 05:00, 25 May 2022
| Updated: 14:49, 25 May 2022
Flights to Europe are cheaper than train tickets from Kent to London, research by KentOnline has revealed.
In March the cap on rail fare rises increased, pushing ticket prices up by as much as 3.8%.
It comes at a time when families are struggling with the cost of living crisis and commuters are starting to travel into offices again after Covid.
We've been taking a look at just how expensive it is to buy a train ticket, compared with getting a seat on a plane.
First up Ashford International, which is on the High Speed rail line with speedy journey times into London.
A return ticket during peak times will set you back an eye-watering £65.
That's more than double the price of a plane ticket to Barcelona and back, which we found online for just £30.
Even if you already live a bit closer to London, the prices are still shocking.
A return ticket for a commuter between Dartford and the capital currently costs about £19, which doesn't seem too expensive.
But a round trip to Hamburg in Germany is just £17 on Ryanair.
It's even worse if you live on the Kent coast.
We were unable to find a return ticket from Margate to London that would arrive before 9am for anything less than £72.
A plane ticket to Venice would be nearly half as much, costing about £39.
Johnbosco Nwogbo, from the campaign group We Own It
Johnbosco Nwogbo, from the campaign group We Own It, has described it as "utterly ridiculous".
He said: "Our rail fares have gone up constantly and steadily since privatisation. Companies have to extract profit, but we would save about £1bn a year if our rail was in public ownership.
"Energy bills are going up, the price of food and everything is going up, and we also have to think about the climate crisis.
"The government needs to pull its act together and think about how to tackle this problem.
"They had a really simply job to do as we came out of the pandemic, to find ways to get people back onto the trains, but they've really fumbled it.
"Our trains at the moment are not necessarily the most eco-friendly because the private companies and the government over the years have not been investing in making it eco-friendly.
"But the mere fact that a lot of people can use that single form of transport from point A to point B reduces the carbon footprint of all of those people.
"The government isn't taking this seriously, they're obsessed with privatisation when in this case it's quite clear what's going to work is what's working for other countries like Switzerland - public ownership.
"A lot of the companies that run our trains at the moment own the trains in their own countries, and trains are cheaper there as they're able to reinvest profits into their trains to cut fares for people.
"Here, we're allowing them to essentially hoover out profits from us while we are dealing with all of these other rising costs, it's just unfair and doesn't make sense."
Philip Sherratt, editor of Modern Railways magazine, said although this is not comparing like for like, there are issues with the fares.
He said: "The fare system has evolved gradually over time in a bit of a piecemeal way, so that's why as more and more fares have emerged it just gets more and more complicated. What it really needs is to go back to first principles and start again.
'I think everyone in the railway recognises that the fare system is wrong and is broken and needs fixing...'
"When HS1 opened they put a premium on fares because it's an expensive new piece of infrastructure, we need some money in to pay for it.
"I think everyone in the railway recognises that the fare system is wrong and is broken and needs fixing. But ultimately that's a political decision to fix that, and if you do that you're going to make some people happy and you're going to make some people unhappy.
"There are only two sources of funding, which is the farepayer and the taxpayer and it's up to the government to balance that. I think there's been quite a bit of dismay at the priorities about the freezing fuel duty versus raising fares, which is what happened earlier in the year, but those are political decisions."
A DfT spokesman said: “We are committed to helping passengers during the cost of living crisis. The Great British Rail Sale saw more than one million rail tickets slashed by up to 50%, saving passengers over £7 million.
"Railcards and season tickets – including flexi-seasons which we launched last summer – continue to offer significant discounts and allow passengers to spread the cost of travel.
"The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail will modernise how the outdated fares, ticketing and retailing system works to simplify and improve the passenger experience.”