On the day that Luton airport‘s long-awaited shuttle connection begins full service, The Independent can reveal what are believed to be the most expensive rail journeys in the UK.
Some reports have claimed that the new £300m “Dart” link between Luton Airport Parkway station and the terminal is priciest. The fare for the 1.3-mile journey is £4.90, which works out at £3.77 per mile.
But the new shuttle is not part of the national rail system – and in any case, many other British train trips are far more expensive per mile.
The most expensive standard class journey that The Independent has found is the 0.21-mile link from Ty Glas in the northern suburbs of Cardiff to Birchgrove. The fare increased earlier this month to £2.60, taking the price-per-mile to £12.24.
Next is the ride from London Blackfriars to City Thameslink in the center of the capital. The fare is £3.70 for a journey that is scheduled to take between one and two minutes. That represents £11.38 per mile. But first class is available for this trip, at a fare of £5.60, which is believed to be the most expensive in the UK at £17.23.
The distance between the stations is so short, and the rolling stock so long, that the back of the train has barely left London Blackfriars when the front reaches the platform at City Thameslink.
In third place: Belle Vue to Ryder Brow in southeast Manchester. The fare has just risen to a flat £3 for a journey of three-eighths of a mile, which represents a rate per mile of exactly £8.
If the search is expanded to include the London Underground, the most expensive journey is between Leicester Square and Covent Garden on the Piccadilly line – just 853 feet apart.
A passenger buying a ticket for cash rather than using contactless payment would pay a rate of £42.89 per mile
In the parallel category of “closest stations without a direct rail link between them and with a published ticket price” the winners appear to be Catford and Catford Bridge in London. The suburban stations are on either side of the Ravensbourne River, with the platforms about 500 feet apart.
The 29-minute rail journey involves changes at Lewisham and Nunhead, and is scheduled to take 29 minutes for a fare, quoted by Trainline, of £6.20 – representing about £70 per mile, though not for a trip that anyone would rationally take.
The two St Budeaux stations in Plymouth, Victoria Road and Ferry Road, are even closer, but no fare is published between them. The same applies to many other close-quarters stations, including St Albans (City and Abbey), Windsor and Eton (Riverside and Central) and Dorchester (South and West).
Hyde North and Flowery Field, east of Manchester, are about 900 feet apart – about three minutes’ walk – but the rail journey between them takes passengers to Guide Bridge and back, with 90 per cent of the journey covering exactly the same ground. The fare is £4.
Meanwhile many passengers will be able to travel on the Luton airport Dart (Direct Air Rail Transit) for considerably less than the £4.90 walk-up fare when they combine the link with a mainline rail ticket.
East Midlands Railway is selling combined train/Dart tickets from London St Pancras to Luton airport for £8.10. The journey between central London and the terminal can take as little as 30 minutes.