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UK commuters spend £1.8bn a year on train tickets

UK commuters are spending an average of £2,605 each year on annual train tickets. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images

UK commuters are forking out as much as 10% of their salary on annual train tickets, spending about £2,605 each year.

With data from Transport Statistics Great Britain in 2017 showing 3,139,900 employed people travel to work by train every day in the UK, and 23% of regular rail commuters buying annual train tickets, this amounts to a massive £1,881,271,085.

Analysis of Sainsbury’s Bank’s credit card data found that customers purchasing annual tickets from South West Rail paid the most at £3,780 each, followed by South East Trains at £3,662.

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Northern Rail users spent significantly less on season tickets, spending an average £1,014.

Thameslink (£3,545), Great Western Railway (£3,318), TransPennine Express (£2,522), Virgin Trains (£2,488), East Midlands Rail (£2,385), Oyster (£1,809), and Scotrail (£1,527) all fell somewhere in-between.

Sainsbury’s Bank has launched a Train Ticket Calculator to help commuters understand how much they could save if they buy their season tickets early to beat 2020 price rises.

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A separate study by Sainsbury’s Bank found that just under a quarter (23%) of people that commute at least three times a week buy annual season train tickets. Monthly travel cards are the most popular choice of ticket (34%) and a fifth (20%) of commuters buy daily tickets.  

Annual season tickets could be a serious consideration for commuters because, as the study found, they could save an average £311 a year by purchasing an annual train ticket as opposed to monthly tickets.

Commuters are most likely to use a debit card (40%) to pay for their train tickets, and one in eight (12%) use a credit card with a standard APR.

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Only 8% of commuters put the cost on a 0% purchase credit card, despite this being a cost-effective way to buy an annual ticket.

However, tickets are not the only cost associated with commuting by train. The research found commuters spend an average of £17 every week on treats including hot drinks (37%), breakfast (35%), and snacks (31%).

Commuters based in the North East (88%) and Yorkshire (87%) are most likely to buy themselves travel treats.