Britain’s biggest rail rip-offs: 10 journeys that cost £1 per mile or more

As passengers from Edinburgh to London are told they must pay £200 for a one-way, standard-class ticket during a rail strike, The Independent has identified other eye-wateringly expensive train fares.

Ten journeys that cost £1 per mile can now be revealed.

These are not the priciest journeys per mile in the UK: most of those are for extremely short journeys that travellers would not normally make. The most expensive of all in pounds-per-mile is the link from Ty Glas in the northern suburbs of Cardiff to Birchgrove, which is less than a quarter of a mile. The fare increased earlier last month to £2.70, taking the price per mile to £12.70.

Close behind is London Blackfriars to City Thameslink, a journey of one or two minutes that works out at exactly £12 per mile. The walk takes around six minutes.

For this study, The Independent is looking at journeys that people reasonably take but which are very expensive on a per-mile basis.

Many involve airport stations, the most expensive being Hayes & Harlington to Heathrow Central which works out at £2.10 per mile.

Three journeys from Stansted airport cost £1 per mile or more, while the link from Three Bridges in Sussex to Gatwick airport, four minutes up the line, costs £1.15 per mile.

Two other extremely high fares are on the Southeastern high-speed line from London St Pancras to Kent. The six-mile stretch from the terminus to Stratford in east London costs £8.10, and the onward journey to Ebbsfleet International works out at £1.25 per mile. This is also the most expensive journey in terms of time taken, with trains taking 11 minutes – almost £2 per minute.

Almost all of the journeys are three miles or more, making walking unrealistic. The exception is between Liverpool James Street and Birkenhead Hamilton Square. The distance is only 1.2 miles but they are separated by the Mersey – making the £3.60 one-way fare a necessary purchase.

The longest journey covered in the survey is the 65 miles from Watford Junction to Rugby, priced at £67.20.

Many other journeys are on the cusp of rising above £1 per mile – and may well do so when fares increase again next March. Bedford to Wellingborough is currently £14.50 for 15 miles, while Stevenage to Peterborough costs £45.10 for 48 miles.

Special mention is due for two airport services that are priced way above normal levels. The flat £2 fare for the Edinburgh tram suddenly rises to £7.50 for the last half-mile to the airport. And the Dart monorail link from Luton Airport Parkway station to the terminal costs £4.90 for a 1.2-mile journey.

Poundbreakers: fares per mile above £1

  • £3: Liverpool James Street to Birkenhead Hamilton Square – £3.60 for 1.2 miles

  • £2.10: Hayes & Harlington to Heathrow Central – £7.40 for 3.5 miles

  • £1.35: London St Pancras to Stratford International – £8.10 for 6 miles

  • £1.31: Stansted airport to Stansted Mountfitchet – £4.60 for 3.5 miles

  • £1.27: Didcot Parkway to Swindon – £30.50 for 24 miles

  • £1.17: Stratford International to Ebbsfleet International – £21.10 for 17 miles

  • £1.15: Three Bridges to Gatwick airport – £3.10 for 2.7 miles

  • £1.11: Stansted airport to Bishop’s Stortford – £7.20 for 6.5 miles

  • £1.03: Watford Junction to Rugby – £67.20 for 65 miles

  • £1: Stansted airport to Elsenham – £4 for 4 miles

All fares are standard anytime tickets, researched at National Rail. Distances calculated from RealTimeTrains data