Your stories

Every week, people from around the country tell us why it's vital to them that rail services are affordable. Below are some of the comments we've received. Tell us why affordable rail services are vital to you.

"I wanted to apply for a job in York which would have required a commute by train of less than an hour each way, yet it somehow costs £342 a month! I am disabled and couldn't physically drive the journey. This aside, it categorically should not be cheaper to drive! We must work towards a more sustainable future and that means train travel that is affordable for everyone!" - Hannah Desmond.

"I am a student and so I use the train every day to travel to and from college. When I went to purchase my weekly rail ticket for the first week of college after the Christmas break I found that it had increased by 30 pence. This is 30 pence that I do not have as I am a student and do not earn money or receive benefits. I find it infuriating that rail companies do not provide discounts for students who struggle to afford these fares which are vital for their education" - Rehannah Oozeerally.

"I don't drive so I rely on both trains and buses to get around. Every year train fares go up but wages hardly move. For many people trains are their only form of transport but it seems the Goverment punishes people for it whilst not investing enough money in new trains or rail infrastructure. What we need are fairer fares to help everyone not just the vested interests of rail companies" - Simon Dent.

"Going from Bath Spa to Reading costs £170 a week whereas I can take a longer trip for £23 per day. Something is not right when I can take a 50% longer journey with more stops and have it cost significantly less money. Additionally, I feel that the train providers should hold themselves largely responsible for continued unemployment. As a 26-year-old with many years' IT experience, I have had to turn down many jobs due to excessive train fares and no alternative. I know many people who simply can't afford to pay extortionate rates to get into work. The idea of public transport is that the 'public' can use it, not just the six-figure bankers/earners who can mitigate the train costs with a high salary or boundless expense accounts. I currently pay £150 per week to commute from Reading to Bath, via a cheaper route. This is ridiculous. The train should not cost almost double what a car does" - Brandon Trefonas.

"I commute from Ashford, Surrey, the first non-London station on my train line to Elephant and Castle. Being the first non-London stop means I do not get student discount for the tube even though I use it every day as a London-based student. I have to pay an extortionate amount for a 30-minute journey just to get to Waterloo and in the winter the service is unacceptably bad. When the train fares rise again it is very unlikely that I will even be able to afford to get to university three days a week. The Government does not help me with any tuition fees or maintenance costs so I think it is unacceptable that they will not even help me get to university by making train fares affordable!" - Kristianne Martin-Reed.

"I am a student and have to commute three times each week at peak times from Peterborough to London. I'm finding that even booking my tickets two weeks plus in advance of travel costs me around £50 per day and that's not including the cost of parking at the station (due to no suitable buses and living five miles from the station) or my return tube ticket. It annoys me also that cheaper tickets are often available from cities further afield. I feel like the commuter towns are being cashed in on. Fairly soon I may have no option but to use my car again; it would certainly be cheaper" - Claire Harrison.

"I currently commute from Rayleigh to Liverpool Street using Greater Anglia. Since being made redundant from a previous job in 2001, I have been working for another organisation on a salary of about 20% less. During this period the train fares have consistently risen above inflation while pay rises have been static or below inflation. I am fortunate to be able to renew my annual ticket just prior to the annual January hikes; despite this I am still hit year after year. It has now reached the point that from January 2014 I will be no worse off by staying at home and drawing my pensions. (I will be 58 years old in December.) Is this how Cameron and Osborne expect people to get back to work?" - Roger Coventry.

"I will be working three days a week and looking after my baby the rest of the time. I have just lost two days of income and added three days of daycare fees. It won't make sense to get a season ticket any more. I try to save money by walking the 15 minutes from the train station to work, but the rail fares keep going up and up. Service doesn't improve, space on trains doesn't improve. I may have to give up work to avoid the cost of commuting. It's ridiculous!" - Jennifer Reznick.

"I use trains to travel around the UK and especially to go to airports. It is absurd that train tickets are so expensive; nowhere else in the world are the prices so high. Besides these high costs, the service is very poor with obsolete, dirty, overcrowded and often late trains. Many people have no choice but to use cars to go to work as it is more affordable. If the Government is planning to reduce carbon emissions why does it not lower the train fares so that commuters choose the train over cars?" - Emanuele Scollo.

"I cannot drive for medical reasons and wouldn't really want to with all the pollution and noise and danger. Anyway, as I am on benefits I doubt if I would have enough money to learn to drive, buy a car and pay the insurance, road tax and petrol at the price it is now. I am a botanist and need to travel to reach various sites of rare fauna" - Robert Starling.

"Travelling to work is not a luxury, and travel for leisure should not be out of reach of ordinary people" - Jacob Sanders.

"After finishing university I had no luck securing work in my home town of Leicester, so I got a job in London and moved there. I have been living here for around six months and although I love my job, I'm not happy here away from my friends, family and boyfriend. I have decided that the best option for my happiness is to commute, however the Leicester to London season ticket (including the tube) costs around £900 a month - around 80% of my salary. I shouldn't have to pick between happiness and a career" - Krissie Gonzalez.

"Affordable rail services are vital for the country. Car culture trashes our towns and countryside, kills thousands of people a year and pollutes the whole planet. Any responsible government would promote the alternatives. Shame on successive British governments for caving in to the car lobby instead of doing what's right" - David Carslake.

"It seems illogical that in this country, where the roads are so congested and travelling by road is often a case of crawling along through traffic jams, the rail fares are so expensive and unaffordable. They should certainly be subsidised by the Government, not only to make travel faster and more reliable but also with ecology in mind. People should not be forced to drive, using fuel and causing pollution, they should be encouraged to travel by rail. Time and time again, people I know have complained that they would have prefered to take the train but it was just too expensive and they have had to drive. My son has to go to work by train and now that the fares are rising he is wondering whether he can actually afford to go to work!" - Elizabeth Lewis.

"We live near Glasgow and regularly visit friends or relatives in the South of England. In the 1980s when petrol was relatively much cheaper than now and we held no rail cards, it was always cheaper for us to take the train. In 2013 we are both Senior Rail Card holders, but despite that, it is now cheaper for us to take our car" - Fraser McDonald.

"I find that my local service from Oldfield Park to Bristol Temple Meads very often does not have room for me and my bike, and so from that point of view it is unreliable. I am happy to pay a higher fare if they make things easier for cyclists. However, I do not believe it will get easier, so I am planning to massively reduce my reliance on the trains to get to work. I also use the trains for longer distances (typically London) for work, and my employer pays for the tickets. It is already very expensive getting to and from London, and so further hikes in fares will affect our growth. It will affect our profitability and will mean we have to batten down the hatches and slow down our recruitment, as well as make it harder to offer pay increases to staff" - Adam Gretton.

"A year ago I pre-booked a ticket to Ipswich to visit a friend. It cost me £7 with my railcard. It turned out I had gotten there a little bit earlier than intended so I asked the conductor on the platform if my ticket was valid for the earlier train, and he confirmed it was. When the conductor on the train checked my ticket he said I was on the wrong train and would have to pay a £70 fine. Naturally I was very upset, I was going through a tough financial time and £70 was a hell of a lot of money to me, it still would be! A couple of months later, I caught a train to Chester that was over half an hour late. I filed a complaint for a refund and a month later I got a letter apologising for the inconvenience caused and a refund. Of £1. In the form of a voucher. Unfortunately I have no other choice than to get the train, but if it carries on the way it is I may consider something as drastic as moving house or changing jobs to avoid the cost and stress of it" - Mica Daly-Smith

"I used to do a lot of travelling, but have cut back considerably. I only visit my mum once a month now, and friends I have in the North West I only see twice a year as the journey to Birkdale has gone up by £35. As I no longer drive, this has meant that I now stay home more, so the hikes have had a detrimental effect" - Terry Moriarty.

"I regularly travel from the North West to visit my close relatives in South West England; often I can't book in advance, as I'm rushing to visit someone who has been taken unwell. Even now I can't find a cheap ticket, booking four weeks in advance. It's not just the price either (£130-£200 per trip!); the travel experience is now such poor value - no direct services, no luggage space, often no seat, usually no catering, constant drone from the engines for five hours - that for the first time in my life I am taking driving lessons. Driving is more expensive (and I know how environmentally damaging) but I simply cannot tolerate such appalling service for such hideous prices any longer" - Ian Raymond.

"I'm mainly frustrated by the ridiculous structure of train fares and the hidden methods that train companies have for increasing fares which do not attract the attention of the media. There has been a lot of coverage about the annual fare increases but not of the extension of peak times and added restrictions on off-peak fares. Here in Stoke-on-Trent we have an excellent, fast, half hourly Virgin Trains service to London which appears to be targeted solely at business customers as the fares are out of reach of most leisure travellers and the peak time restrictions make a weekday trip unviable. The train fare structure needs a complete revision based on a more sensible distance based price. The current structure where a full price single is often only pence cheaper than a return is a joke" - Rob Woods.

"Let's get one thing straight, rail transport in the UK isn't just bad, it's woefully expensive too. If I had to choose between the two, I'd rather it were cheaper. My commute is roughly 90 minutes each way and I pay £395 every month for the privilege of having to endure sub-par seating and frequent delays. If the weather is inclement, then I can expect services to be suspended without notice. That £395 per month is a staggering amount of money, certainly more than 20% of my take-home salary. It's more than my housing costs each month too. And yet this government deems it reasonable to expect me to have to pay even more. If this government is at all serious about encouraging economic growth, then a comprehensive and reasonably priced rail network is an absolute prerequisite" - Paul Matthes.

"My partner's take-home pay is £914 per month. Her season ticket is £3,812. She therefore has to work 4.17 months in order to pay for the season ticket presently. This does not include the cost of her Oyster card, which she has to pay for when she takes the tube to work (£2 each way). If the season ticket price increases (which it seems it inevitably will) it will take her longer to pay for the season ticket. Compounding this affordability is the current public sector pay freeze (over two years). What's more, my partner only gets paid for the hours she works (because she is on flexi-time) which means that when the trains are late (not an infrequent occurrence) this impacts on her pay because she 'clocks in' later than planned" - Mark Isaac.

"I work on a minimum wage in two jobs. I work seven days a week, I can't afford to rent my own place (living with Mum still) and I am paying over half my weekly wages in train tickets. Affordable train tickets would mean I don't worry about getting high blood pressure and a heart attack every time I visit the ticket office. Oh... and I can actually end up going to my job" - M Findlay.

"I have just been made redundant. With rail costs and other costs going up, I am going to need a 20% pay increase just to stand still, and that isn't going to happen - so when I do start working my standard of living will continue to fall as an even larger share will be swallowed by travel costs. The refund system isn't fair either. You get two months' 'free' travel when you buy an annual ticket. If you're made redundant and have to  surrender your ticket, you get a proportion of the cost back, but on the assumption that the two free months are at the end - how absurd is that? If you have six months of your ticket left to surrender you should get half the value back. As it is, my annual ticket cost £3,020 - I have surrendered this after five months and the surrender value is just over £1,200. If train companies want more people to travel, they should lower the prices drastically; with cheaper travel more people would use the rail network, meaning more revenues to the rail companies. What do struggling retailers do - they discount prices to get people in, not whack up the cost of goods by 8% - 15%!" - Per Andersson.

"If train fares were reduced, more people could travel by rail more often which would reduce traffic congestion on the motorway. I believe that all rail fares to all destinations in the UK really need to be reduced to cheaper prices, not increased to a skyrocketing expensive price, because that will make people not want to use the train, and that is not a good thing" - Matthew Saunders.

"I am jobless, so getting to interviews is important. If you price passengers off the trains, you put them back onto the road either using car or bus. Personally over the past few years I have found myself priced off the trains onto buses. I also feel that passengers in some cases are transported like cattle so companies can increase their revenue. I would like to see passengers take action; possibly a passenger strike at a weekend" - Graham Henderson.

"My business is to promote the UK. My customers in Germany, Russia, China and India are used to cheap and dependable rail services. They want to travel to London from Paris by rail and ship, but UK rail fares make the whole experience dauntingly expensive. I do my best to advertise the cheapest fares but in reality I need a nationalised, affordable, dependable UK rail service for my customers" - Paul Bright.

"Government research shows that rail travel is the most environmental means of travelling. A report published by the Department for Transport says "Rail is a relatively energy efficient means of transporting people and freight and, in general terms, tends to have a lower environmental impact than other transport modes". Why are we still paying such vast amounts of money to travel by this mean of transport when governments are constantly looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions? Today I  purchased a single ticket from London to Swansea, the cost a staggering £114. This is ridiculous; you could easily fly to the other side of Europe for less. Why is more not being done to encourage people to travel on the train?" - Thomas Marr.

"I Live in Basildon, Essex, and travel to work in Reigate, Surrey. I'm a firefighter so I work two 9-hour day duties followed by two 15-hour night duties. The train fare for this journey every week would cost £111.40, whereas it costs around £70 per week to drive a petrol car to work doing a mere 28mpg. Can someone please explain to me how this can possibly encourage me to use public transport to travel to work when it costs 37% more!" - Neil Fossett.

"I live in Sheffield while my parents live in Stevenage, Herts. A standard ticket to visit home will cost me £64. If I drive the six-hour round trip, it would cost me about £30 in petrol. I only visit home a few times a year because of the expense. Driving is bad for my health and bad for the environment. It is only good for my wallet and it disgusts me that this is the case. Trains are not a comfortable, luxury option. It is generally quite stressful and unpleasant with not enough space for my luggage. Also, I often travel back on Sunday evenings, and trains are invariably late or disrupted in some form or another. How do they get away with it? It is absurd that a vehicle carrying hundreds of passengers costs more per passenger than it does for a car carrying one" - Mr A.

"Getting back from work in London to Reading at 8:30pm last night, we walked past four first-class carriages which only had a handful of people only to have to stand in the corridor of our carriage. There was standing throughout ours and the next and presumably the whole train was like this, the heating was cranked right up and tempers were fraying. This is not unusual and I pay £4,000 for this experience every year" - Alice Dale.

"I live in Manchester, but my girlfriend lives in Oxford and high train fares mean we spend less time together. We rarely travel by train now, instead we ending up having to spend between four and six hours on either National Express or Megabus to see each other (compared to less than three hours on the train), as coach fares are less expensive" - Daniel Burton.

"Although my rail commute is relatively short, I'm also hit by constant increases in fares, and see no improvement in the service as a result. What really annoys and concerns me is the lack of seating and the constantly increasing numbers of passengers having to find somewhere to stand. Although the trains are allegedly designed to be safer in the event of a crash, the number of non-seated passengers who are likely to be injured is growing, and I'm sure at some stage the Health and Safety Executive should investigate. When you consider also that the number of green passengers travelling with cycles is increasing, there's even more competition for standing space. Finally, we hear a lot of talk from rail bosses about how they're going to run longer trains, but without longer platforms it just isn't going to work. And who will pay for these longer platforms? Well you and I of course!" - Peter Garner.

"I travel from Linlithgow in Scotland to Glasgow. The service has been at best tolerable, and the proposed rail fare rises, without discernible improvement, have been a bitter pill to swallow. The cold snap in early and mid December is well enough known, but the standard and reliability of service fell to an abysmal low, when it was a lottery as to whether commuters would get into work or not. Since the New Year, problems have persisted. These include reduced car services and unexplained cancellations at my station, on at least two occasions this month.  Other passengers have mentioned lengthy diversions and overcrowded carriages in which people have fainted. The fact is that I am paying some £5-£10 per week more for a service that is no better, and probably worse, than the year before. It is intolerable and something must be done!" - Iain Paton.

"I was really pleased to see you start a campaign for Fair Fares. I suffer from one of the most ridiculous examples of unfair pricing and thought I would share it with you. My weekly trip from Cardiff to Hereford costs £18. Other trips of similar length cost much less, e.g. Cardiff to Ebbw Vale (£4.30), Cardiff to Swansea (£7.20). These are all off-peak day returns. I did write to the Department For Transport but got the wishy washy reply I expected. Keep up the good work!" - Gareth Hodgins.

"The Mayor of London has recently raised public transport fares, disproportionately affecting outer Londoners. For instance, the daily cap using Oyster pay-as-you-go in Zones 1-2 (Central London) has risen from £5.60 to £6.60 (off peak) and £7.20 to £8.00 (peak). In outer London, all-day travel in just one Zone (5 or 6) has risen from £5.10 to £8.00 (off peak) and from £9.00 to £15.00 (peak). Why the relatively modest rises for central Londoners but huge rises for outer Londoners?" - Helen Gardner.

"My journey to work is a distance of about seven or eight miles in the suburbs of London. Trains used to run between Abbey Wood and Lewisham throughout the day, but the direct service has been cut between 16:30 and 19:00. I, therefore, now drive two miles to Welling, park and walk for 15 minutes to the station which is obviously less sustainable. Southeastern then increased the fares by about 6% in January 2010 and by approximately the same amount this January. Today, the news states that train companies are looking to put up fares further in order to deal with the issue of overcrowding! Where is the sustainable transport policy?" - Dave Trew.

"Due to the price increases on the railways I am forced to look for a local job, where I won't have to get the train and can drive to work. Overcrowding is also a problem: when I used to travel from Grove Park into London, the train was often full to capacity with people crammed on together. I saw a total of seven people faint on different occasions. It makes me so angry that they get away with this service" - Louise.

"The loss of the two-tier travelcard means my fare will rise from £5.10 to £8.00 for a one-day travelcard. The rise is excessive and I don't see why when I am not travelling into central London I should be charged as if I am. I don't see how this increase in fares will really help modal shift from the car to public transport. What will probably happen is that I will use the bus rather than the train as that would be cheaper... but that seems silly as quite often the buses are overcrowded particularly at school finishing times" - Penelope.

"I have been commuting to London on the Hastings line for the past three years. In that time, the cost of an annual season ticket has risen hugely, and I now refuse to buy one. As the trains have become more and more unreliable, I actually find it cheaper to buy a weekly ticket and claim compensation for delayed and cancelled journeys: I claim every week! Last year I lost my 12-month season ticket (£3,600) and was told I couldn't lose it again as it would not be replaced. This is theft! Also, in these days of unstable jobs, redundancy is a very real possibility. Once an annual season ticket has gone past the five-month mark, if it is no longer required (whatever the reason), the train company is not obliged to refund the remaining money. Again, I see this as theft. As many others have pointed out, it is now actually cheaper to fly to some destinations than to take the train. We need a radical overhaul of the entire rail system in this country - as soon as possible" - Carol Clements.

"I've been commuting by rail for over 10 years. Over this time, the cost of a season ticket has steadily risen above the inflation rate annually. It is now set to rise at an even faster rate for the next four or five years. My season ticket went up by just under 8% this January. I can't think of any other service that consistently milks its regular customers in this way and I am really starting to feel the pinch when I renew my ticket each month" - Angel Victorio.

"I travel from Portsmouth to Bognor Regis several times a week to visit my girlfriend. I would estimate that about half of my journeys suffer some kind of delay. Given that each single journey costs almost £10 this is ridiculous. Every year without fail the prices rise, without any investment in the infrastructure. I have travelled around much of Europe and every other country runs quality, low-cost rail transport, better and cheaper than in Britain. In many cases if you travel to a football match or other kind of event, you can travel from the nearest main station to where the event is happening - imagine that in Britain, no chance! I have never seen any indication of a train ever being late in any German rail station I have been in. When I travelled from Amsterdam Schipol Airport to Arnhem - the equivalent of Gatwick to Portsmouth - the cost was something like £8. If they can do it, why can't we? I also need to travel to London for my job to carry out research in museums and archives, and the cost of rail transport into London is prohibitive - I now use the coach, even though I would prefer to use the train. Nothing will change until somebody has the guts to overhaul public transport, rather than coming out with the same old stock answers. They wear a bit thin when you're paying through the nose and shivering on the platforms!" - James Daly.

"I commute from Baldock in North Herts to London Kings Cross each day. I pay £4,300 a year for this journey (including tube travel). Before Christmas the trains were bad, but this could be put down to the bad weather; now it's January, the weather is fine... yet still the trains are running poorly. This week I have found out that my train fare will be increasing by nearly £300. This is really distressing for me as I very much doubt companies will be handing out pay rises this year, so where will that extra money come from? And why am I being forced to pay extra for a service which is currently resulting in very high stress levels? Last night as I sat on my delayed train for the second night in a row I felt like I was going to cry. I have no other way to get to work, so I am being forced into paying these extreme fees and getting absolutely nothing back" - Samantha.

"Over the past few weeks my daily commute to London has been a nightmare; firstly due to the snow, then a succession of excuses such as failed points, failed signals, failed trains, no driver, no guard... the list seems to be endless. Now I have discovered that my season ticket is going up by nearly 12%! We are in the hands of a privatised monopoly that seems set on bleeding the customer dry and doesn't give a damn about the poor service it provides. Trains in the country are a national disgrace and an international laughing stock, and it's time we did something about it" - Steve Keevil.

"I am annoyed that whenever rail fare increases are announced we always get told the Kent price increase - what about people in Essex and other places? A weekly travel card from Southend Victoria (including Tube) to London has gone up from £90.60 to an astonishing £97.50 - that's a weekly increase of £6.90 and a percentage increase of 7.6%! People who buy weekly tickets are the most vulnerable because they can't get season ticket loans. The trains are out of date and dirty, and let's not forget that on most alternate weekends the line is partly closed for engineering work (which always overruns!)" - John Prior.

"I travel to work at Swindon every day and pay the railways around £690 a month. The fares are going to hit around £750 with the increase when I renew my monthly pass. When fares increase, services should improve too; for instance we should be refunded our full fare if the train is delayed by 10 minutes" - Mahesh.

"Wow, just researched how much a train journey to Scotland would cost for my summer holiday next year: over £300! I could almost put up with the inconvenience and longer journey by train, but I draw the line when it will also cost double the price of the same journey by car. Why do the Government continue to let this happen? Are they completely toothless when it comes to sorting out the public transport in this country?" - Darren Taplin.

"I am self employed and sub-contracted to a small media company. Our office is in Warrington. Most of our clients were public sector... Now we've lost probably 50% of our clients. NOW the Government wants to raise train fares - they're expensive as it is. I work three days a week because the company cannot afford to pay me for five days and my expenses. With rail fares set to go up, I dont know if I'll be able to work here any more. As for crowding? Get rid of First Class as only three people bloody use it! Stop forgetting about the Standard Class users" - Chris.

"A further increase of rail fares could make my journey to and from work uneconomic. After three years of no pay increases and 10% reduction in salary 18 months ago, increased transport costs would be the last straw! We have one car for the family, there is no bus from my village to the station and the round trip is 14 miles (hence we need to run a car with all the costs that entails). I get a bus from the train station to the office. How can an increase in rail fares be justified when the country is facing huge cutbacks? Where does the Government think we the public can find this ever increasing burden from?" - Carol.

"Train prices are completely out of control and bear no relation to the service you get. I regularly travel by train, but in the last few years I have been regularly forced into other modes of transport due to the extreme cost of train travel. For example, I do Cardiff to Newcastle about four times per year to visit family. The normal quoted train price is about £120 return and takes about five hours. I can easily find flights for this amount, and often as little as £68 return. How on earth this can be at all logical in any Government's eyes is beyond me. Another example, I recently went to Edale in the Peak District from Cardiff. I was quoted a whopping £84 to take the train. I eventually decided to hire a car, which cost me £45 plus £30 petrol. If there had been two of us, the difference would have been off the scale. My problem is that I WANT to travel by train. I think it is efficient, environmentally sustainable and a much more pleasant way to travel. I really feel that people should not be so dependent on cars and short-haul flights, which pollute and consume more and more land for infrastructure... but I am being forced ONTO the roads" - Adam Blacklock.

"I have recently moved out of London for a better quality of life for me and my family. I commute to London three days a week at cost of over £450 what with the train fare and the cost of parking (because there is no viable public transport route from where I live to the station). This represents nearly 40% of my salary and is just not sustainable. I have therefore reluctantly had to take the decision to drive to work which saves me nearly £300 a month and takes approximately the same amount of time. I am so angry to have been priced off the railways. I have no desire to drive to work and add to pollution. The only benefit for me is a financial one. Where is the true committment to reducing car journeys and seriously combating climate change when taking the train is really only open to the well-off?" - Sally Shaw.

"I live in Lam Tei in Hong Kong and work at three different sites:
- Tuen Mun: Light rail return costs 65p, driving costs £3 for petrol and parking
- Tin Shui Wai: Light rail return costs 65p, driving costs £6.20 for petrol and parking
- Tai Po: Bus return costs £3, driving costs £10 for petrol and parking
Driving costs don't take into account tax, maintenance and insurance" - Anthony Bryant.

"I have recently returned to the UK after nearly 30 years in Australia. Living near Bath and looking for work in the corridor between London and Cardiff, I need an affordable means of commuting. I find it difficult to comprehend why an off-peak day return from Bath to Paddington should, at £50, cost about the same as a return air fare to Spain (as advertised on the stations en route!), when the same ticket for a similar distance on the New South Wales CityRail system, say Sydney to Newcastle, would set me back the grand sum of the equivalent of £6. Annual season tickets are £8,080 (using direct FGW services plus Underground) and £1,400 (converting from AUD at current rates) respectively. Certainly the service in Australia would be somewhat slower, but we are still talking electric air-conditioned trains with more comfortable seating adjustable to the direction of travel. Wages and salaries in Australia are on the whole higher than in Britain, so that aspect cannot be a factor in the difference, and yes, there is also an element of government subsidy in the fares, in recognition of the vital need to encourage public transport usage, but again nowhere so great as to justify the discrepancy. With overall population density and service frequency taken into account, it seems that the only rational explanation for it must be sheer operator greed and/or inefficiency" - Derek Elwell.

"I want to see my sister and her family in London more regularly from my home in Scotland. If train fares were less pricey I could go down more often for shorter periods (which is preferable as don't want to overstay welcome). The cost of fares has gone up since National Express were booted out! It's a ludicrous pricing system and I'm ashamed of it. Travel in Germany is hugely affordable, family-friendly, clean and on time - why oh why can't Britain be the same? Come on new Lib-Con coalition, show us your true colours" - Saskia Brierley

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because I am vitally concerned about the impact that increasing road and air travel have on the quality of life - ALL life, human, animal and plant.  We already have a rail infrastructure in place, though it obviously needs work to bring much of it up to standard.  There are unused rail lines which can be put back into service at, I suspect, a much lower cost than building new roads, new runways, noise abatement schemes, etc. As long as it's more expensive to travel by train than by car or air, most people will NOT travel by train.  This must be changed" - Ann Hinrichs

"It would be a start if the fare structure weren't so absurd. Examples: (1) A friend travels from Cambridge to Liverpool. The cheapest way he does it is by booking Euston to Dublin including the Ferry. He gets off at Crewe and uses a local train. (2) Someone I knew booked a Newcastle to London advance ticket, but because they were late getting out of the house, boarded the same booked train at Durham. They were given a penalty fare for travelling fewer miles than they had contracted. Bertold Brecht, eat your heart out!" - Des Phillips

"The rail service is vital to me because I work five days a week in Leeds and live in York. I can't really afford to operate a car all the time for this and the train is a lifeline. That and I don't actually WANT to drive a car everyday, through personal choices (environment etc). However, currently, the utterly disheartening irony is that the car is the cheaper option for me, cheaper than the train service. Surely this is an outrage and a classic example of badly run public transport" - Sam Tomlinson

"I don't own a car and I rely on public transport. During the holidays I travel home from university by train (though it is cheaper by air). Even when I book in advance it is horribly expensive. I live in Wales and go to uni in Scotland. During reading week I can't afford to go home and I won't be able to get back home for the inter-semester break after exams either. I will have to take a chunk out of my overdraft to get home for Christmas.  I don't own a car on principle, but when I talk to friends who do, they say that they couldn't live without them thanks to the state of public transport. How can we discourage people from using cars if they believe there is no alternative?" - Saoirse Morgan

"How can we discourage people from using cars if they believe there is no alternative?"

"I would rather use train services than driving and even rather use trains over aircraft for longer journeys. However, with a family of five, trains are too expensive. For example, this weekend we went from Buckinghamshire to a wedding in Stoke-on-Trent. My wife and children drove up at a total cost of about £25 in fuel; that got four of them there and would have got me there too, however I had an earlier engagement in London so caught the train up. It cost £50 for one person in train fares! Imagine if five of us had travelled. Oh, and that £50 ticket was one way. £25 in petrol got our whole family there and back!" - Calvin Hanks

"Buying train tickets is like entering a lottery. I’ve just booked a weekend in London from Manchester for £53 return for two, which I think is about correct. However, the default price on the screen was £398. On another occasion, I went to Newcastle and the train on which I wanted to go cost £110. I travelled one hour later - for £15. I look back with nostalgia to the bad old days of British Rail" - Martin Farnworth

"Affordable rail allows my family to travel in a more sustainable way than by other means of transport" - Nick King

"My family live all over the country and I can't afford to see them due to the high cost of rail travel" - Andy Gordon

"I continue to use the train but am frustrated with every journey and come up against barriers through lack of space for my bike, expensive tickets and having no seat."

"What is the point of the government telling everyone to be a 'green' citizen when the facilities to do so make it impossible? Towns are planned around cars; out of town shopping centres are anti-pedestrian by their very nature. Main roads are scary and often have no walking or cycling provision - therefore cutting people off from routes and forcing them to get in their car to feel safe. Rail travel should be the answer to our needs - should get us from A-B at a low price - but instead we are forced back into our cars through high prices.

I don't understand how this can be allowed to happen. Public transport is an essential service and it should be made the 'normal' mode of transport. People should not have to own cars to get to work. People should not have to fly across the country or across Europe because it's cheaper. Many, many people I speak to consider using trains but then retreat back to cars and planes because they can't justify the cost. Personally, I continue to use the train but am frustrated with every journey and come up against barriers through lack of space for my bike, expensive tickets and having no seat.

Our transport system makes absolutely no sense we need to completely overhaul how it works if there is any hope of an integrated sustainable transport system" - Maria Parisi

"Without affordable rail services I would not be able to volunteer my time on the board of a Housing Association" - Edward Ferrari

"I travel to Kingston upon Thames regularly to see my three grandsons and it is very expensive to travel by train" - Pauline Gibson 

"We are a rail dependent family. We have no car and never will. My children need the trains to get to school, holidays, the orchestra with their instruments (buses are not comfortable enough) and we need trains so we can easily travel with the pushchair. The railways must be a public service just like the National Health Service and open to all. Plus, with good railways and safe walking zones, crime is reduced and the government would save a lot of money because there would be less road accidents and less stress so Britain would be a more productive country and a happier country too" - Paul Bright

"My family and I really want to do the right thing for the environment and use the train, but simply can't afford to pay the current extortionate fares. "I am horrified that the cheapest way to travel to my destination is to fly there, despite the huge cost to the environment that this would entail - this is a crazy situation that has to change" - Sarah Pearman

"Affordable rail services would mean I can travel around more by  train, rather than having to drive which I do for a living. It would free up roads, reduce cars and help improve air quality; plus I prefer rail travel as I can relax and not get stressed as I would do if I drove" - Terry Moriarty

"I am a responsible citizen and cycle and do not want a car. I want to travel by low carbon means to see friends family, go to work or go on holiday. One of the main ways to do this is by rail - only problem is it’s too expensive and with the 1% above inflation rise its not getting any cheaper" - rather the opposite" - Andy Gordon

"I commute from Ashford in Kent to Charing Cross in London, currently £3700 a year! This is far too high for an annual fare compared to other rail networks. If the fares were cheaper more people would use the trains. With the "highspeed" fares expected to be about 30% or so more than the current fares, an annual ticket from Ashford for the Highspeed service would be around £5000. The existing faster trains from Ashford to Charing Cross actually do the journey in 1 hour, so we could do with more fast trains on the existing line/service" - Mark Woodward

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because otherwise driving or catching the plane is often cheaper and easier. Even though I will always try to avoid flying, it is sometimes very hard to persuade friends and family to do the same!" - Serena Oliver

"I do not drive and would love to travel by rail more" - Yvonne Parsons

"Services are essential on the isle of Wight but, unfortunately, we have 1938 rolling stock and no signs of any replacements" – David Gammage 

"We are a family of five - three children and two adults - and we want to give up our car. Lots of places are accessible by train, but the fares, once you are paying for five people, are a problem when you are on an ordinary family wage. It would  be much easier to go without a car if transport were cheaper. It is crazy to subsidise air travel - help people travel by train! (And some trains run on renewable energy wouldn't go amiss either)"- Alison Thorpe 

"I have no other means of long distance transport, being a student and having no car. Furthermore, I prefer to use the train to get to my work placements since it is much quicker than the bus. However, it is also 50% more expensive, for the same distance. Also, I believe that one engine for 200 people is much better than one engine for one person, so trains make economic and environmental sense" - Chris Allen

"When my mum was very ill with cancer I had to travel up and down from London to the north west most weeks, and couldn't always plan my travelling in advance. It cost me nearly £60 every time. I ended up having to apply to a cancer charity for money to cover a couple of trips and felt really bad about directing money away from the important things to cover my overblown train fares. It was extra stress that everyone could have done without" - Sonja Todd

"It would mean I can travel without harming the planet and not be forced into using a car I do not want to learn to use.  It would also mean I would be able to travel to the other side of the country to visit my family more than the once a year that I can only currently afford to do.  How unfair is that?!  It would also mean that I could go on holiday to parts of the county I've never seen without it costing a bomb" - Sophie Cussen

"Congestion in Birmingham is beyond ridiculous. The M6 is extremely dangerous with every morning bringing crashes which then just make the congestion worse and even more dangerous! Despite this, rail and bus fares in the area remain high, persuading many people such as myself to endure the awful and dangerous car journey every morning. I don't drive out of choice, but purely because the train fares are too high" - Trevor Johnson 

"I use the train to get to work. It's currently getting so expensive I'm considering buying a car again!" - Shaun Conway

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because we're wrecking our one and only planet. Efficient and cheap public transport must become a top government priority" - Annie Leymarie 

"I work in Birmingham where road congestion adds about 30 minutes to my journey. I've tried the train and would use it everyday but the train is just far too expensive so I cannot justify taking it instead of driving" - Mark Thompson

"Rail is one of the quickest, most efficient and environmentally friendly forms of transport. How can you let air travel be a cheaper alternative when we need to reduce our fuel consumption? Cheaper rail services must become a reality for the benefit of everyone in the country as an alternative to the far more polluting airplanes and cars we are forced to use" - Paul Brookes 

"As a pensioner I have a fixed income and try to live as economically as possible. I live in a village and have to take the car to the nearest rail station (our station was a 1966 casualty and Network Rail sees no business case for reopening it). I prefer to travel by train even though I can travel free by bus because the buses run at 90 minute intervals and to reach the area I wish to get to I have to change buses resulting in a longer journey. The last bus into the village gets here at 7pm; the last train is at midnight" - Janet King.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because they would make it affordable for me to take the train instead of driving. However it is essential such fairer fairs are coupled with increased capacity to ensure trains are not even more overcrowded than they are now. This is a legitimate use of public funds because train travel is a public good when it reduces use of the alternatives such as cars and planes which are both more polluting and, in the case of cars, lead to increased congestion" - Nick Green.

"Affordable rail fares are important to me because as a student that is working toward his future and focusing on his studies, it's important for me not to financially struggle getting to college and as someone who is green it's important for me to continue to use public transport rather than drive" - Kevin McNamara.

"I travel from Swindon to London for work. It is now cheaper for me to drive to and from the office than to take the train, so as of next week that's what I'll be doing. I've been using the trains for over two years now and the only change I've seen is my fare go up. Train services have been shocking, station staff unhelpful, and the wifi access has to be paid for. Well, I've had it with them. I'm off!" - Clive Bury.

"I rely on rail for my daily commute. The cost of my commute affects choice of my mode of travel. Even with environmental concerns on my mind the cost differential between taking my car for leisure trips as against taking rail is so high that I always take my car" - Serbjeet Kohli.

"Affordable rail services are not only vital to me but to everyone, when the Government is trying to encourage people to ditch their cars for public transport in the face of global warming. Why should people pay high prices when they can't even sit down? Advantage is taken of the fact that people don't have a choice of who they travel with, the fact that they have to be in places at certain times and so people have to more than pay the price. This is not value for money and that's why people would still rather take a car" - Emma Longman.

"I work part time and it is very expensive to travel peak time from Macclesfield to Stockport: £8 a day. I heard on BBC Look North West that Virgin is cutting the prices from Macclesfield to Manchester. This sounds too good to be true. If it is true I wonder if customers will get a rebate on their season tickets - I doubt it somehow!" - Mary Brooks.

"I live in Scotland but have family in Manchester and Sheffield. I am a musician and frequently need to travel at short notice. I love using the train, it is a civilised way to travel and one can do things while travelling, but walk-on fares are so expensive compared with driving and pre-booked tickets are often more expensive than equivalent pre-booked flights! As well as being concerned for the environment driving is not an option I favour because I find drowsiness a real problem, hence my own and other's safety. As well as travelling over Britain the train service is vital for us getting from our suburb of Glasgow into the city for work. It would be nice if rail was more affordable for holiday travel as well..." - Julian Roberts.

"As a pensioner in a largely rural county using public transport is often the only option. With other costs rising there is often a painful choice to be made between eating, heating or travel to see relatives or friends. Even with a senior rail card, it is getting harder and harder to find enough money to make ends meet for many penisoners, who have worked hard all their lives and now find that they cannot afford to travel to see family members. Also, for those at work, using the train is an ecologically better way to travel than using a car: however, for them having to pay huge costs to travel in peak times, this makes their monthly outgoings rise beyond any possible pay increase, forcing many to revert to using their cars" - Carole Williams.

"I work part time for a publishing company in London. I travel into London from Huntingdon two days a week. A travel card is £100.50 but not worthwhile for me because of my part-time hours; instead I buy individual day peak time tickets which cost me 2 x £34.50 = £69. Parking for two days at the only car park for the station is 2 x £5.80 = £7.60. In total £78.60. Is there anything that can be done for part-timers who suffer with this extortionate cost? Can a carnet system be introduced meaning you can purchase five tickets to be used any time within a month but on any day?" - Louise Shaw.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because after incurring student and education debts I wish to actually pay these off! I work full time and commute by train. The rail fare per month has increased to £230 though the service is poor, unreliable and seats are scarce. It is essential that commuters who have no other travel alternative or want to be green can travel cheaply and efficiently" - Sarah Jones.

"It is cheaper for me to drive and pay lots of money for parking when the family want to go shopping at the nearest big town. That is bad for the environment, the coming energy crunch and at odds with the policies of the UN" - John Milbank.

"For me, a yearly train ticket from Andover to Reading costs over £2,300. Add to this the yearly season ticket car park charge of £928 for 2009 and that's over £3,200 a year in travel and parking (if I'm lucky enough to obtain a space, a season ticket does not even guarantee one!) in expenses. Now the cost by car from Andover to Reading and back is an average of £2,400 per year in fuel (and it guarantees me a seat!). This all-too-common scenario is sure to drive people from public transport and into their cars thus polluting the environment and congesting our roads" - DW.

"I have a job in South East London but live in South West London. For a start, my daily commute should last one hour ten minutes, but as I'm forced to take three different trains and at least one of them is delayed or cancelled every day, it takes around two hours one way. That's four hours a day I spend commuting. The fact that I work in the public sector on a fairly low wage and have to pay over the odds for this appalling service without even a seat to sit on for four hours absolutely enrages me. As I can't afford to rent anywhere near my place of work, never mind buy a house, moving is out of the question. What exactly am I supposed to do? The service we put up with is digusting enough without insulting us further by making us pay more for it year on year" - Jessica Barton.

"Why can't over-60s have reduced fares on off-peak weekdays and weekends? Obviously railcards give us a third off, but this still makes rail travel expensive for most jouneys. Many trains are virtually empty during off-peak times. Lower fares would get more bums on seats - as the old saying goes, 'small profits but lots of them'. I know many people like myself would like to use the trains more often (especially on longer journeys to visit family) but are put off by the rising cots. It would also help free up our congested roads" - Graham Diprose.

"It’s getting too expensive to travel to work; it’s at least a month’s salary. (Sorry, can't come into work today, I can’t afford the fare). It now makes more economic sense to drive into London" - Paul.

"Expensive fares make it unrealistic to recommend rail travel to those who are less committed to making a difference through their travel choices. Given that for those with access to car, rail travel is likely to be less convenient for most journeys, the rail fare needs to be less than the cost of the journey by car in order to give them an incentive to use the train. There particularly needs to be an emphasis on lowering fares on under-used routes where there are spare seats, as getting more people on the trains would reduce car journeys and environmental impact without causing overcrowding" - Toby Harling.

"I live in Northern Ireland and since last year, my monthly ticket has risen by 18 pounds, and my wages have not! I commute by train to work (30 mins each way) and this cost me £120 a month for a montly ticket! Disgraceful because I am on low income and get no help!" - Jenny Simpson.

"I live in Wakefield but used to work in Halifax. After several significant rises in rail fares I found that it was no longer affordable to commute. I had to leave a job I really liked and find one closer to home. It costs me £2.60 on the bus to travel a 5 minute journey into town and to return. I think the cost of public transport is ridiculously high. I used to live in the United States and it would cost me the equivalent of £30 a month to travel on any mode of transport I wished and everything ran on time. It costs over £100 a month here - with restrictions - and the timekeeping of public transport in this country is a joke (that's if they run at all). It seems like we as a country are incapable of running even a half-way decent service but yet we pay through the nose for it" - Jon Covell.

"Not all journeys can be planned in advance or I might not want to have to plan a journey in advance. At the moment if I want to travel a longer distance, e.g. to visit my friend who lives in Scotland, I'll drive rather than pay over £50 for the train. This isn't good for the environment and adds to congestion on our roads" - Richard Mason.

"I am an Aberdeen University student. I am French and therefore commute at least twice a year between Paris and Scotland. For this commute I can catch a Ryanair flight from Paris to Glasgow (then a bus from Glasgow to Aberdeen). Altogether this can be as cheap as £50 return. Or I can catch the train from Aberdeen to Paris through London, which costs £160. This second option is ideal - quick enough, clean and hassle-free. The only problem is the price. I wish I could opt for it, but as a student I can't afford it, and I will sadly go with Ryanair. No need to convince me how bad this choice is, but I really have no other possibilities" - Arthur Vincent.

"I travel from York to Skipton three times a week to teach at a college. The train fare is £18.70 per day, yet the cost of driving my 3.5 tonne 18ft campervan there and back is around £12 maximum. I would like to use the train to help protect the environment but the high ticket price is frankly a joke. It annoys me so much when I hear the Government talk about cutting carbon emissions and getting people out of their cars when it is clear they are far from serious about green issues. The situation is simply unacceptable and unethical" - Ben Harrison.

"I feel the Government wants to make rail the rich man's travel mode, while flying is for the masses. This trend needs reversing" - Hildegard Hill.

"I'm originally from a small village in Worcestershire and have never owned or driven a car - I've always walked or used public transport (we used to walk to Wales for our holidays when we were young!). I now live in Watford and travel by train to visit my parents, relatives and friends in the Midlands pretty frequently, especially recently as both my parents have been quite ill. I am shocked at the increasingly high cost of the journey, particularly when we need to be flexible (although we always try to get the cheapest option)" - Seren Fisher.

"Now that I'm retired I like the opportunity to visit friends and family. Rail travel is far better for me as I do not need to be on the road. I see rail travel as a public service" - Neil McDonald.

"We need to think of the future. The internal combustion engine is, hopefully, reaching the end of its practicality for transport. Oil is not going to get cheaper over the long term yet transport needs will remain if we are to have a civilised society. At the moment, train travel is ludicrously expensive, ticketing is unnecessarily complicated (privatisation! what a disaster!) and most train journeys are something to be endured rather than enjoyed. It doesn't need to be like this - look at some of our EU neighbours to see how it can be" - Chris Parsons.

"I live in Brighton and I don't drive. Rail fares are beyond astronomical and I can't afford them, so I'm basically trapped here in town, unable to get anywhere in the Sussex area - or dependent on others who drive. Train travel is now a luxury in terms of cost (but definitely not in terms of service), whereas it should be a viable alternative to car use. How can we blabber on and on about the environment etc, when we blatantly discourage train travel by making it unaffordable? It's so hypocritical. I've recently been to Spain, where train travel costs less than a fraction of what it does here. The train from Torremolinos to Malaga, about a 12-mile ride, cost less than two Euros return. Until we do something about making rail travel reliable and affordable, why gas about the environment or getting people out of their cars? What are they expected to do? Flap their wings and fly?" - Charles Wunderman.

"I commute for three hours each day into Manchester from Blackpool. Although I am a driver, one person travelling by car is environmentally unacceptable. Currently the trains are overcrowded to an extent that would be illegal on buses. Standing for an hour in a carriage which is sauna-like in summer and freezer-like in winter is not value for money" - Jim Jolley.

"I use the train every day to get to work - but this costs me £30 a week. I used to take the train across the UK to visit family and friends, but now the train fares are often too expensive, which means I either can't go or have to use a car or even fly. Sustainable travel should be supported and encouraged by the Government, so that more people can help reduce the UK's carbon emissions" - Dawn Houliston.

"I don't drive and my wife and I want to be able to get around just as easily over long distances as others. To travel from Northampton to Newport (South Wales) costs two of us £88! By car the journey would not cost nearly as much. Why oh why are train fares so extortionate when we are always being asked to be more 'green'?" - John Moore.

"I need to travel to and from university to see my family. I don't have a lot of money as a student but trains are the only way I can travel!" - Kathryn Gardenier.

"I often travel between London and Devon; sometimes I miss the advance fares and have to pay a walk-on fare of £59. I am now considering buying a car as I feel this will be a cheaper and more flexible way to travel; however I am conscious of the damage this may do to the environment and would prefer it if train travel was more affordable" - Lara Colvill.

"I would like an affordable alternative to using my little car to visit friends and family, to visit my local town for shopping and for days out in London, Cambridge and Oxford" - Colin Barron.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because our family sold our car four years ago and rely on train services to visit friends and family and to go on holiday" - Ben Priestley.

"I live in London for my job but have friends in various parts of the country and a lot of family in the north-east, including my 87-year-old-grandmother whom I would love to be able to visit more often. However, the price of tickets to Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester is just extortionate. Since my Young Person's Railcard expired last year, and as a low-paid charity worker, I have been quite simply forced off the railways. Of course, the bus is an option but when travelling to somewhere like Newcastle this makes the journey so long that it's not worthwhile unless I'm able to stay for longer than just a weekend, which is often difficult. I am also deeply concerned about the environment and find it appalling that, even with recent huge rises in the price of petrol, it is still far cheaper for a group of three to five people to travel by car than by train!" - Andrew Boscoe.

"My sister-in-law has just had a baby son, her first. My wife and I like to visit them, and luckily they live close by - we are in Swindon and they live in north London. An off-peak return by train from Swindon to London Paddington is £37 each; tube and bus in London adds an extra £7.80 (we have Oyster cards). For the two of us, that is a total of £89.60. If we travelled at peak time on the train, standard class (but with no guaranteed seat), the cost would be £203.80! Compare that with the cost of car hire at £25, plus petrol at £33, makes a total of £58. The carbon emissions are more than double by car compared with public transport. We want to do the right thing for the planet, and for our nephew's future - please Mrs Kelly, help us by reducing the cost of public transport" - Andy Parsons.

"Not having a car, my wife and I use the train to travel around the UK to visit friends and family, to go on conferences and to go on holiday. We only travel if we can get cheap advance tickets. This means that it is virtually impossible for us to plan a journey at short notice, say a fortnight or less before the travel date. So when events come up at short notice, we just don't go to them" - Jonathan Whitehead.

"I like to travel by rail with my family; we live in Brighton and visit relatives in Manchester. We also holiday in West Wales; the train service to West Wales is now slower than it was in 1900 and costs hundreds of pounds, making travel by car preferable. This is a great shame because both children and adults prefer trains. I also go to all work appointments by train though it would often be cheaper to fly. If I have to go on business I often need to travel last minute and in this case the train is prohibitivly expensive: £82 to Bimingham! £132 to Leeds! We have a right to travel by train that is efficient and affordable" - Jamie Lloyd.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because without them I shall be forced to use my car, pollute the planet and add to global warming" - Philip Gilligan.

"I used to travel to school every day by train, which cost me around £3 a day. But for a student over 16 the price doubles to £6 per day, £30 per week and £300 per term. That means it is cheaper for me and my friends to drive to college every day than take the train: on average driving costs £100 per term. It makes much more sense to those of us who live off £30 a week EMA to drive. The Government complains that we create too much greenhouse gas by driving everywhere and that public transport is more beneficial to the environment, but of course I am more concerned about whether I can afford to actually live a productive life than about how many cars are on the road. If I could save time or money by using trains then of course I would, but public transport is so incredibly overpriced and unbelievably unreliable that I cannot afford it" - Stephanie Langford.

"As a student I have to live on a very tight budget and I find rail prices, even with a student rail card, extortionate. I need to use trains in order to return home for holidays and I have paid up to £50 to get home on a delayed train where there isn't enough room for me to find a seat! I also have a holiday job with the Ministery of Welfare in festivals all around the country. Trains are the easiest way to travel for this but I can end up losing almost half of my wages on train tickets alone! Even with advance tickets I have ended up paying more when the train I have paid to be on is cancelled or I miss a connection due to late trains" - Amelia Draper.

"I don't drive and to get anywhere to do anything I have to use public transport. Over the past year I have been using trains far more regularly than I had before. In this time I have seen overcrowding, delayed and cancelled trains. I have no other choice than to use trains, but I'm sure people who do think to themselves: "I could get from A to B and spend this much money on petrol in my car and it would take me that long" but for trains it's about the same or more cost for a long journey and unless you've reserved a seat there's a good chance you'll be standing for half the way" - Jen Farnell.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because I don't own a car and I live away from my family! To see my parents it costs me £49.10 return from Manchester to Cumbria. And despite paying almost £50, I won't get a seat for the first hour. To see my little brother and his wife it costs me almost £70 from Manchester to Newcastle. Seeing family isn't something that I should have to plan ahead for a month in advance. We all know it is quicker and cheaper to fly to London than catch the train! Great commitment to the environment; pat yourself on the back as we cough out more greenhouse gases! So do I travel on the trains as much as I would like? No, I cannot afford too! Thanks Ruth Kelly, thanks my Labour government!" - Ryan Bestford.

"I use the railway in an attempt to drive down the spiralling cost of transport - I can no longer use my car as much as I would like due to the cost of fuel and can only afford to use the railways as I have a mature student rail card. If I had to pay the full fare to travel on the railways, I would not be able to do so. Ruth Kelly is obviously living on a different planet to the rest of us - when was the last time she travelled on the railways and paid for it herself? Probably in the British Rail days" - Claire Marshall.

"I can drive but can't afford a car or the fuel to run it. I live very close to a train station so that if tickets were cheap enough, I could use trains to go and visit family and friends across the country much more often than I currently do. Buses/coaches often get stuck in heavy traffic, particularly on a Friday afternoon, and the journey times are already much longer than by train, meaning you arrive at your destination flustered and tired. I'd much prefer to travel via train, but tickets bought on the day of travel cost more than most students or key-workers can possibly afford. Trains to airports, particularly the London ones, are also too expensive" - Parminder Lally.

"I'm a full-time student and I have to travel across the country to see my friends and family; the extortionate prices put a strain on my bank account and threaten to increase my (institutionalised) debt. Of course, the 18-25 rail card helps to take the edge off, but I have to pay for that as well, and besides the prices are still far too high for the quality of service offered. If the trains ran consistently on time with few problems I wouldn't complain, but I think it's ridiculous that we should have to pay so much for a service we can't trust or rely on. The rest of Europe manages to run cheap, efficient public transport - why can't we?" - Dion Thorpe.

"I use the railways for both business and leisure. Cheaper advance fares are almost unavailable on most routes from Manchester to other big cities at the weekends. For example cheap tickets from Manchester to Newcastle are currently not available for the next three weekends (I just checked on the internet). Hence the cheapest fare would be £58.70 (standard saver). This is almost £120.00 return for two people. If my wife and I wanted to make this journey over the next three weekends I would almost certainly choose to drive owing to the high price of the train fares even though I would rather take the train. A price somewhere around £35.00 return per person (for this journey) would probably be low enough for us to use the train rather than drive" - Dominic McCann.

"I am a student and therefore I can barely afford to even use the train! I need the train to go home and see my family and to get to uni as well as various music activities held in London. The cost is currently far too high, meaning I have less to spend on food and laundry" - Charlotte Luxton.

"I have a disabled person's rail card and that makes walk-on travel quite reasonable - but that's only because I'm entitled to a third off each journey and so is my companion. So, reduce all train fares by 1/3 and maybe people won't complain as much. I still resent the fact that I frequently can't get a seat and it is impossible to walk up and down trains because there isn't enough space for luggage so all distance travellers have to store things in the aisles or even worse, in the (one tokenistic) accessible space, whilst the first class carriages are empty" - Ruth Malkin.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because I need to travel frequently to visit elderly parents" - Rachel Madden.

"My only family are 300 miles away in London and each time I use the train the price has risen! The cost of train tickets goes up with inflation; my income does not" - Anthony Watt.

"I need to catch the train to get to college, but if train tickets are so expensive how can I afford to go?" - Laura Williams.

"If rail prices were cheaper it'd make it a lot easier to get around at a reduced price meaning my parents wouldn't have to give me as much money for going out and could put it towards more important things" - Tom Fitzpatrick.

"I have chosen not to buy a car before university which means I will need to use public transport in my everyday life at college and the three years I am at university. I find it hard to pay for my social life let alone rail travel to get there all the time" - Charlotte Davies.

"I can't drive and so I rely solely on rail services and I'm spending a fortune just to go a few stops. Also my student discount card doesn't entitle me to reduced-price tickets, I must pay for a young person's rail card, another cost, just to prove I'm under 25" - Tim Searle.

"I like to be really flexible in visiting family and friends. I do not want to have to cut back on my travel plans because the fares keep increasing. I have a Network Railcard and always tell other passengers and friends about it, and I also cycle as much as possible" - Jacqueline Baynes.

"If rail services were cheaper we could all travel more easily. I cannot get a bus to Chester. If I took the train it would cost me £15 because I would have to travel out to Crewe and back although I only live 17 miles away. If the cost was lower (and there were more connections in the countryside) more people would take the train. Cheaper = more bums on seats = more money overall... don't increase the price to outprice everyone" - Tom Woodworth.

"I live in Penwortham and I work in Blackburn centre, working 40 hours a week on minimum wage. When I started work I decided to use rail services instead of the car, but over the past year I have noticed the price of rail tickets have gone up, to a point where now I'm looking for other ways of getting to work, as I am no longer able afford the rail tickets on the wages that I'm on. I do feel like I've been priced off the rail services!" - Noel Leyland.

"My close family have moved away from me and I only get to see them maybe once or twice a year because currently the rail fare is so expensive and I have never owned a car. I've only seen my brother once or twice in the past five years as neither of us have been able to afford it. The last time I saw my nephew, he was three years old - he's now seven. The same is true for my brother and our parents - they rarely get to see each other. I now have a little boy of my own, which really brings it home to me how important family is, and I feel very sad that he won't get to see his grandparents or his uncle and cousin very much due to the extortionate rail ticket prices" - Jude Fowler.

"I commute to Northampton a lot as well as to London. I have now decided that I will move, partly because of the train fares. I have always resisted learning to drive, mostly on ecological grounds and because I firmly believe that affordable, convenient public transport should reduce the need for the excess of cars on the roads and the subsequent increase air pollution etc (and childhood asthma, allergies etc). There is an endless list of reasons as to why cheaper fares make economic, social and ecological sense and I hope the Government will sit up and take notice of this group. Personally I would also like to see the canal system utilised for heavy goods transport!" - Kathy Smith.

"I have no car so trains and buses are my only means of transportation over long distances. As I am a student I have limited funds to visit friends and family who live all over the country, and so don't see them as often as I'd like" - Gwen Rowland.

"I am a student and travel a lot by rail, but am never totally sure of the dates when I will need tickets so cannot always buy advance tickets. Even if I do plan to buy tickets well in advance, sometimes they are all sold out. I have a student rail card, but even this doesn't make journeys anyway near as cheap as they should be. I end up getting lifts with people in cars because it is cheaper. I care about the environment, but I also have a budget, so I can't be forking out hundreds of pounds a month just to get around when it is so much cheaper by car. And if you really can't make trains cheaper, then perhaps a free meal when travelling a long journey or even free water would be nice; if they can manage it in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, then I'm sure we could have it here!" - Fra Beecher.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because they are the only reasonable way for me to travel and see family and friends outside of Norfolk. The bus takes too long and I do not own a car. Therefore I have to pay whatever the rail ticket costs, and - being a student - if that is a lot of money then I have to give up something else in my life because of it" - Kerry Lane.

"I live close enough to a railway station to cycle to it and work close enough to a railway station to cycle at the other end; however it costs around 40% more to travel by rail than the equivalent cost in fuel. This seems ludicrous as the trains are half empty and the roads are clogged beyond belief at rush hour. How can it be possible to be financially penalised for doing something green?" - Peter May.

"Decided to take the family on a trip to Blackpool and my thoughts turned to our carbon footprint. Driving from Huddersfield to Blackpool takes just over one hour each way and costs about £40 in petrol. I thought "let's go by train", for the following reasons: fun for the kids, better for the environment, relaxed, and best of all myself and my partner could have a drink while the kids hit the rides... So first thing I do is look up prices for two adults and two children, cheap day return to Blackpool, midweek, flexible on times... cheapest I could find was £86 for the family! So guess what... we took the car!" - Paul Ree.

"I use the train every day to travel from Manchester to Macclesfield. I have no choice but to travel peak time; if not I would be late for work. My teacher's wage is unlikely to go up any time soon. I find it harder and harder to afford the train. There is a lot of talk about booking in advance and cheap fares but all of these offers are prohibited along the route I travel, at the time I travel. I have recently worked out that driving this journey and the cost of the train would be about the same. There is no incentive for people who do normal working hours to travel by train and this proves it" - Rachael Carney.

"I will be a student at Sheffield Hallam University this year and will not be buying a car. If I want to go out on trips during my university years, I will not have the flexibility to go by car as I did at home. Therefore I will have to use rail or bus services (which are expensive). When I leave university it might be difficult to meet work commitments in a new job without buying a car. Rail services must be both affordable and frequent, and be integrated (both in fares and timings) with buses and trams. Freedom of movement is unfairly restricted by finances for people who choose to try hard to spare the planet of another car" - Ben Hughes.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because I want to see less traffic on our roads, and end the noise and air pollution that destroys the harmony of our towns and countryside and undermines the health and safety of our children" - David Haycock.

"Living in a rural area, and not being a car driver, I would live a very isolated lifestyle without affordable rail services. I could not play a fully participating citizen's role in our society. I could neither realise my full potential, nor make a significant contibution to the society of which I'm a part!" - Martin Smith.

"We are retired and live in East Kent but our children and grandchildren are in various locations around the UK (West London, Oxford, Birmingham) and my disabled sister is in Somerset. The roads have got so congested, the cost of running a car is prohibitive and in any case we want to mimimise our carbon footprint so the train, together with our bus pass, is our preferred method of visiting them all" - Brian Heselden.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because I do not drive and trains are vital for getting me to work" - Trevor Smith.

"Visiting a friend in Surrey has just cost me £76.90 - and that's after my 16-25 railcard has given me a one-third discount. To make the same journey after my card expires next month would cost me £115.35. When I graduate, it will cost my sister £66.75 to attend the ceremony, after the discount from her railcard. My dad has already said that it will be cheaper for him to drive in his gas-guzzling 4x4 than to get the train" - Helen Griffiths.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because I want to reduce my car use and they are the only valid alternative for long journeys - domestic flights are a travesty when we should be reducing carbon emissions, and coaches can be slow and uncomfortable" - Dave Hubble.

"If I take my family shopping in Manchester from Bury the fare on the Metrolink is £3.50 each return. Therefore for two adults and two teenagers, it costs £14 for a ten-mile journey. I can drive the car in and park for a fiver. I am also taking my daughter to a university open day at Sunderland. I would like to go on the train, but the fare is £127 each, so I will end up driving again" - Martin Fanworth.

"My company will shortly be relocating from Crawley to Leatherhead. They are trying to encourage us all to be as green as possible after the move by restricting car parking spaces. I dread to think how much it will cost me in both time and money to travel by train. It will involve a ten-minute walk, two trains (at least 45 minutes to an hour and 20 minutes depending on connections) and a bus or 15-minute walk at the other end. I currently have a 12-minute car trip each day. If only there were cheaper fares, reliable services and investment in rail lines to take people where they need to go" - Val Tuson.

"My son is studying in Cornwall, my daughter about to study in Dundee and I live in Manchester. I don't have a car and the increasing cost of getting to Cornwall by train is encouraging me to fly instead. With internal flights coming down in price, and rail travel going up in price, it doesn't take a genius to see what's going to happen. Is the Government actually interested in ecologically sensible travel or is it just a myth...?" - Sheila Seal.

"Yesterday I had to go to Milton Keynes in the morning and cycle on from there. Virgin charged me £32.40 for a journey that is just half-an-hour each way, then turned me away from the train because I didn't have a cycle reservation, which I couldn't have got from the ticket machine. Sort it out for me, eh?" - Peter Lockley.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me for journeys from Dumfries to Hamilton. I have tried to use my very convenient, express bus service which is reasonably priced but as I want to travel with my dog I am not allowed (at New Year I was left at Hamilton Bus station with my dog, on a pouring wet day - there's nothing in the timetable that says I cannot travel with a dog). I therefore got a lift with somebody in a car next day. So much for encouraging me to use public transport" - John Schofield.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because of my three children: two live over 150 miles away. At present I am still working but very shortly I will only have the state pension to rely on and wonder how I will get to visit them (nowadays I cannot drive there and back in a day because I get tired). We naturally all want to see our children and none more so than myself as I lost one of my daughters! It means a lot but the cost needs to be affordable and I believe the Government has a duty to help us" - Carol Allen.

"We live in a London suburb, and have to commute into Central London for work. Many less well-off Londoners have to spend more than a month's net pay on their annual travelcard - which is excessive. We also take our son to school, sports and music events etc by public transport. Fares within the UK are absurdly overpriced, both in comparison to the fares for similar distances in continental countries, and in relation to air fares. Why should a peak-hour fare from London to nearby Birmingham cost more than a 900km trip across Germany?" - Gerhard Bissels.

"I used the train to commute daily from Warrington to Manchester. Working in the city centre meant that parking spaces were very expensive and the train was the only option. The volume of passengers at rush hour clearly shows that millions of people depend on the railway to get to work each day, and this in turn directly affects the viability of our towns and cities to support wealth creation" - Colin Williams.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because otherwise I use my car too much. When I go to London, it's much cheaper in the short term to drive than go by rail, though I use rail to protect the environment. The same can be said of buses. The decrease in the cost of using a car and the increased cost of using trains and buses since 1997 is a scandal. I own both a car and a motorcycle and know they are fun, but I also know they should be used much less. There must be a substantial decrease in the cost of bus and train travel so we feel we can use them without being penalised" - Rupert Pitt.

"When I visit my mother in Wales I would prefer to use the train but the standard fares are too expensive and buying the cheaper fares is a lottery. Also neither the phone nor the internet has an option for being able to take a bicycle with you. We mostly end up driving as it's cheaper when more than one person is travelling" - Will Embliss.

"There needs to be a clear incentive to encourage people to ditch the car and use public transport alternatives. Train and bus travel should be the default option - car travel should be the luxury option. Currently, it's the other way round, especially with walk-on rail fares. This is even truer where two or more passengers are travelling. Train travel is much more environmentally sound than driving but needs to be available at a reasonable price (and with good standard of service) for it to become a realistic option for many" - David Giles.

"I need to travel both for business and to visit my daughter in Liverpool. The Rail fare from Leeds is about £32 return, on top of £3 or so bus fare to get to the station. That's an expensive trip. By coach from Leeds it is considerably cheaper but means joining the inevitable crawl over the M62. Why is road travel so much less? And why, when the rail tracks are quiet for about 70% of the time, is everything forced onto the alrady dangerously over-filled motorway? It seems the rest of Europe has the common-sense attitude to rail travel, where spending is considered investment not subsidy" - Phil Greaves.

"By catching the train and cycling to work I drive 3,900 miles less and save over 1,000kg of CO2 in just 12 weeks! It is essential that the Government and operators invest in the network. Living in the South West, I see the sea from the train at Dawlish, but soon we won't see Dawlish from the sea. We must act now, to do everything we can to get people out of cars and planes and onto trains" - Russell Geake.

"We need to cut CO2 emissions from cars. Massively. Last night I was cycling in London. The lights went red on a busy crossroads. Suddenly the roaring roads became almost silent as walkers and cyclists were the only movement. My shoulders relaxed. I felt better. 45 seconds later the roar returned. Why do we carry on living this way when the new world (that oil prices are going to end up driving us into anyway) is so, so much better?" - Briony Greenhill.

"I am on a low income and I need to visit my elderly mother 250 miles away, sometimes at short notice. I have a car, but travelling by train greatly reduces my carbon footprint, something I feel strongly about. Unfortunately, because of expensive rail costs I have to use the car" - Alan Gunning.

"We recently bought an advance ticket from Saxmundham to Bradford on Avon at a cost of £100. Using a budget airline, the same money could have taken us to a wide range of European destinations. Why is travelling by train so expensive? Dissuading people from using their cars has to involve more than taxing fuel and road use. There must be a viable alternative way for people to make their journeys" - Joe Cassels.

"I have recently decided to give up my car and use the train to travel to and from work. My reasons were to cut my outgoings, take one more vehicle off the roads and reduce my travelling time. Last week the weekly cost of my journey was £28; today it has gone up to £39.50... exactly how are we being encouraged to use public transport? I may possibily look at buying another car now" - Fiona Russell.

"We do not have a car and depend on rail to get about the country to see relatives, for instance I take my two small children up to Wrexham by train to visit grandparents. Walk-on fares are extremely expensive, even with a family railcard, and it is not always possible to book ahead to get cheaper fares - sometimes a crisis requires an unexpected journey, or cheap fares are just not available on school holiday dates when we can travel" - J Prince.

"I study away at university and use the railways to get home to visit my family and friends. However, with rises in ticket prices year upon year, even with my Student Railcard this is an exercise I can barely afford. Make prices fairer. They are affordable in other European countries which have better services" - Alan Chaffe.

"I don't have a car and because I am disabled I often travel with someone. Therefore it isn't just me who has to pay train fares: I also have to convince a friend to do so. I don't think it will be easy to encourage people to chose the train over the car when the car is perceived as so much easier and cheaper. Surely if the Government is to meet its climate change targets it should be encouraging rail?" - RKY.

"I travel by train so I can read reports on the way to business meetings. I also travel to visit friends and family at weekends. My travel decisions are based on time and convenience as well as cost: is it cheaper to hire a car to make the journey from say Manchester to Leicester or catch the train? Prices on many journeys seem to be a bit of a lottery; passengers still need good value walk-on fares as well as discounted advance purchase tickets" - Dominic McCann.

"I am a student and apart from all of the other arguements I refuse to get trapped into the car culture by buying one. Rail travel is the easiest and pleasantest way for me to get around the country and I beg the government to take the necessary measures such as making rail travel affordable. Climate change is a real problem and the deadline for mitigation is fast approaching; rail travel is an important and viable means for travel in a sustainable economy" - Kerry Lane.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because they enable me to do a job I'm passionate about. I commute every day from Sussex to work for a charity in South London. House prices in London mean that I'm unable to live closer to my job so it's vital that I have an affordable journey. The train takes slightly longer than driving but I'm proud that I'm not adding to traffic and pollution. However, each time train tickets increase in price it pushes me a step closer to the day when I decide that buying another car and driving to work is the only option left" - Daniel Haskell.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because I want to use them for environmentally sustainable business trips to Europe. I am planning a trip to Vienna. If I go by train it will cost £560 (return trip); by plane the cost is around £250" - Barry Rawlins.

"I don't drive so I rely on the train to visit relatives, go to medical appointments and go on holiday" - Joe Cassels.

"I'm travelling with my wife and father this week and, frankly, £300 is too much for us for a 100-mile round trip. So we'll go the slower, less green way. There are just two trains a day each way calling at Melksham station. A few more would be nice: they WOULD be used at an affordable price! And let's make pricing simpler: I'm faced with 28 (!) different price options when I book online, most of which aren't actually available on the day I need to travel" - Graham Ellis.

"Train travel saves me from driving for long periods of time to see my children in other counties and getting a neck ache (osteoporosis beginning). The train means that I don't get into lengthy traffic jams on my way to work, and I can read a book by the time I get to my visitors!" - Carol Allen.

"I live on the outskirts of Middlesbrough where buses are far too expensive, uncomfortable and time-consuming. There are no cycle tracks or footpaths leading to the town, which is eight miles away. I need the train to get to university every week, and for shopping for necessities" - Mark Tait.

"I often have to travel at relatively short notice. Why should I pay more than other people who can plan their journeys? Trains in Holland are 'glorified buses' with a very simple pay-per-distance price structure, no inflated prices around Amsterdam and no seat booking. A single journey from where my mum lives to Amsterdam Airport (3.5 hours) is only 32 Euros" - Henk Smit.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because I'm a student" - Hannah Cooper.

"I'm a passionate traveller who doesn't want to kill the planet. I'm also a student who uses the rail network to get to university. I receive a maintenance grant and find that at least a third of my weekly budget is spent on travel expenses. When this is broken down, the main component appears to be train tickets, due to their exorbitant price! Unless train travel is made more affordable I will be forced to take the infrequent and snail-like bus" - Tracey O'Connor.

"I do not have a car and do not want to own one as I am aware of the environmental problems. I always travel by public transport or bike. When I first came to the UK, I was surprised by the public transport fares. To travel from Newcastle to London (400km in four hours), the walk-on fare is £124. In France, to travel from Paris to Nantes (400km but in two hours only), the walk-on fare is equivalent to £50 during peak hours and £40 off-peak. Why is public transport so expensive in the UK?" - Pierre-Alain Menant.

"I can't drive, and rely on trains for long journeys. Until recently I had a Young Persons Railcard and so the price wasn't too bad, but now I don't - and I'm certainly not earning any more than I was - so the walk-on price is very high. By booking ahead and specifying a journey you can make huge savings, but only after spending hours researching all the options. In Italy the price you pay is exactly related to the number of kilometres you travel. The distance is even printed on your ticket! There is one price, and it's very cheap. Two of us travelled 152km for 15 euros total! The trains were reliable and efficient... it was lovely!" - A Milne.

"Without an affordable, comfortable alternative, people will carry on using their cars. It's a very simple point that Government seems to be deliberately avoiding. As far as the cash goes, surely it's a matter of priorities? If we can afford to throw countless billions at Northern Rock, Trident etc, then surely we can afford to provide a high-quality public transport service?" - Paul Conway.

"Rail is the most efficient form of travel. Lack of political will condemns people to congestion, pollution and road accidents. The Bristol area has 26 railway stations but few have a 30-minute frequency. Last year we ran a Half Hour Train Campaign which persuaded Bristol City Council to invest in a 40-minute frequency for a three-year period at relatively little cost (£1 million over three years)" - Julie Boston.

"I use the train to visit my girlfriend in central London at weekends. It's the only practical way to get there. My main gripe is that I have to buy two single tickets (I live in Slough and I can't buy a saver return from there), so I end up paying twice as much. I simply don't understand why a single should be almost the same price as a return!" - Robert Pallant.

"Affordable rail services are vital because without them there's a vicious circle causing people to use cars - especially in rural areas where public transport isn't reliable enough to use as a sole means of getting anywhere" - Helen Aldred-Jones.

"I am a student who often decides to travel places at the last minute. This means that I cannot take advantage of the advance tickets and have to pay the walk-on fare. Even with a railcard it is expensive to go home" - Matthew Moll.

"When I combine train travel with cycling I can get absolutely anywhere in the South East, and probably anywhere in the entire country, quickly and (to a degree, when my desired time of travel coincides with the different companies' cycle carriage regulations) easily - but for me to keep doing that and not give in to the apparent ease of travelling by car, it needs to be cheap too" - Kris Fowler.

"We no longer have a car so we reply on public transport for longer journeys. We live in the South East and our families are in the North of England so we need a reliable, affordable rail service to maintain our extended family ties" - Linda Temperton.

"Affordable rail services are vital because without them how can people be persuaded that rail travel is a better option than using a car? I no longer have a car but even when I did I would travel by rail wherever possible. However over the last few years that's become a real problem because it's getting more and more expensive" - Alison Mollett.

"I win lots of competitions (days out etc) for my family and myself, but then I have to pay the really ridiculous prices on the train, which spoils the whole thing" - Sue Hickey.

"We pensioners do not get much in the way of reductions over long distances. Belgian state pensioners get free bus, tram and rail travel!" - Len Lambley.

"I use the train to reach protest actions. Since protest is the visible proof that democracy isn't dead in this country, the Government should care about how easy it is to take part" - James Lamont.

"Affordable rail services are vital in helping me to persuade my friends to use their cars less and the train more when they're coming to visit or we're going somewhere together" - Sam Partington.

"I make several long-distance rail trips a year to see my grown-up children and my grandchildren, and often buy train tickets for them so that they can visit me. At the moment I try to plan journeys well in advance to take advantage of cheap tickets, but it seems to be a lottery. You have to be very quick and be prepared to spend a long time either at the local ticket office or on the internet. If I need to travel at short notice the fares are way beyond my budget and I have to use my car which is bad for the enviroment, stressful for me and adds to already congested roads" - Linda McDermott.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because I have to catch the train regularly to get to university" - Peter Lucas.

"I depend on trains as I have no car and I am a pensioner on a fixed income" - Rita Taylor.

"I'm currently doing a lot of volunteering before starting a PhD. I don't own a car as I can get around perfectly well on public transport; I'd prefer not to increase my impact on the environment by owning one if at all possible. I need to be locally mobile to enable me to contribute to the charities and schemes that I work with, but I don't want to be bankrupted by train travel!" - Oliver Pescott.

"Due to health problems, I am unable to drive. I am reliant on public transport to make journeys that are outside reasonable walking distance. As rail fares increase, my life becomes increasingly more expensive" - Matthew McGee.

"Travelling by train is an adventure for my son. My mum lives on the other side of the country; I used to drive to visit her but after spending nine hours stuck in traffic with my nine-month-old son screaming for a feed and a change I decided never again. The train has always been fantastic: it takes four hours which is generally spent reading, drawing, playing, looking at the landscape, eating our packed lunch and running up and down the train. Also I love the fact that the way we travel doesn't contribute to climate change in the way that road travel does. But even with a family railcard the prices are getting more and more expensive" - Ali Battye.

"I do not have a car as I cannot drive, so I rely on trains for long journeys. There are so many different prices and tickets, it is confusing. If you have a computer with internet access you can get cheaper tickets online but you have to book months in advance, and you can only travel on certain trains at certain times. It would much simpler if they made the buying of train tickets less confusing" - John Leach.

"I refuse to buy a car and rely on trains for trips and holidays. As a low income earner I can little afford the exorbitant fares (some of the most expensive in Europe)" - Jan Goodey.

"I'm a student who relies on trains to get to university. I travel for 25 minutes from Swindon to Bath most days. This short (and notoriously unreliable) trip costs me £12.70! I have a Student Railcard but it cannot be used before 8.30am, rendering it practically useless as my lectures start at 9am. So basically, education is encouraged, but it's only affordable if you can be late every day or you can drive a car!" - Nadia Habib.

"I don't have a car and don't intend to get one - I travel short distances by bike or bus and longer distances by rail. It's not only the cost that's an issue, it's the confusing system of fares. From Peterborough (my local mainline station) I can get an advance saver to Norwich for £5 if I book online. Yet the cheapest fare to Brandon in Suffolk (about 40 minutes short of Norwich) is £13! Someone must address the escalation of prices, overcrowding and poor provision for cyclists and start to make rail travel enjoyable for all" - Dan Beeden.

"I have made the choice to lead a low-carbon lifestyle by not owning a car. I still need to visit friends and family around the country, take holidays and make leisure trips. I am not always able to book weeks in advance. I am faced with ever-escalating rail fares. This is primarily at the behest of the Government who, as their stated aim, want to transfer the costs of rail expansion from the taxpayer to the fare payer. At the same time the cost of motoring continues to fall in real terms. It is as if the Government wants to encourage more people to travel by car" - Noam Bleicher.

"I depend upon the railway to take me to see friends and to do business in a way that is effective and sustainable" - David Shaw.

"I would use the train more if it was more affordable. Open returns should be much cheaper. It is quite absurd that it is often cheaper for one person in a car to drive a given journey, and that is the yardstick that is often used" - Peter Crossley.

"I have two part-time jobs, one of which is 47 miles away. I do try and take the train to this workplace when I can, but the fare structure works against part-time workers. Were I to do this journey five days a week, the daily cost using a monthly season ticket would be £15.10. I only need to do this journey twice a week, however, which means I have to purchase daily tickets costing £26.80. The rail companies need to offer a season ticket that lasts say a month and allows two or three return journeys each week along a given route, with the cost of each journey close to that enjoyed by monthly season ticket holders. This would encourage part-timers such as myself to use public transport, rather than being forced financially to choose the car" - David Haines.

"Trains have to compete with other forms of transport that are more polluting. Travelling by train should be cheaper than flying or travelling by car, because it is greener. Anyone on a limited budget, however green they are trying to be, is going to take the cheapest option" - Anna Milne.

"I live in Southampton, but my elderly parents live in the south-west of Scotland. Booking a return train journey home at short notice costs in excess of £200, and in an emergency I have no choice but to pay this. In this day and age I find it unacceptable that you can fly to Europe and back for £20, but can't get to the other side of the UK by rail at an affordable price" - Wendy Graham.

"I do not drive, but I may be forced to learn: something that I resent. I live in Coventry, spend time working in London, have parents living in Edinburgh and frequently deliver training across England. Without affordable and convenient rail services I may be forced to drive" - David Kinnen.

"I am a pensioner; living in Brighton I do not need to run a car (if I could afford to run one) and get around on trains and buses. The rail service from Brighton is mostly good; I use trains to visit relations in Scotland and family and friends around the country, and travel to London for exhibitions, meetings and social gatherings. Wherever I am planning to travel, my first choice is by train, but the fares are becoming prohibitive on a limited budget. I would urge the Government to do all in its power to make fares affordable for all; by attracting more passengers and encouraging motorists out of their cars, rail would be more accessible and also contribute less to climate change" - Felicity Tanous.

"I have been retired for six weeks and live on the South Coast; my daughter and two grandchildren live in the Manchester area. Driving to see them is exhausting and environmentally damaging, so I rely on the train to go and see them regularly. Even with a Senior Railcard, the costs are high" - John Thackray.

"I use the trains to travel to work. Since starting work the cost of travel has approximately doubled for me due to price rises and changes in travel restrictions. A lot of the pricing for train journeys is hidden behind these travel restrictions, which not even the staff working for the train companies understand! I'm particularly concerned that people who work part time - including some of the poorest people - are penalised even further. Season tickets do not take part time workers into account, meaning that if you work three days a week you could end up paying the same price for your travel as someone travelling seven days a week. There should be a system whereby regular travellers can reduce the price of tickets" - Ro Smith.

"Well folks, I don't drive and I live in Aberystywth (deep in the wilds of West Wales) whilst my chap lives all the way up in Hexham (between Newcastle and Carlisle). If we want any sort of meaningful relationship it involves a £60 train ticket (with a young person's railcard). I accept that the rail infrastructure needs work and needs funding, but it is questionable given the poor standards of service what, if any, value for money the rail service is providing" - Erika James.

"Train travel is efficient, relaxing, pleasant. Thinking back to childhood: do I remember memorable car journeys? No. Do you? Unlikely. I do remember train journeys though - the excitement, my parents being more relaxed and able to spend quality time with each other and us kids. I want to be able to do the same for my child. We love trains! We play I-spy and cards, read, relax, have coffee... a far better way to travel. By the way we don't have anoraks!" - Sarah McClelland.

"If the UK is serious about reducing the volume of motor vehicles on the road, individuals need another mode of transport that presents a real, affordable alternative and one that is better integrated with bus, metro, tram systems" - Tim Wright.

"It is not fair to the environment, our health or our community connectedness to only offer one mode of transport that is remotely affordable: the personal automobile. Expanding rail services would allow people to travel more cheaply, with less pollution, and with more human-to-human interaction. I find the current system very isolating and destructive. People need more options, and when you can't ride a bike, or walk somewhere, I think rail is the way to go" - Leah Miss.

"I live in London and am originally from Liverpool. I can now no longer afford to travel home to visit parents and family more than about three times a year. Even if I try to book weeks in advance I can't get a ticket for under £60. Because of the high price of this and other rail journeys I take, I am considering buying a car. I don't want to do this because of the environmental issue but unless train fares come down then I may have no choice" - Steven Nodwell.

"I'm trying hard to use my car less. If the costs were lower, two of us would be able to justify taking the train to visit friends and family instead of using the car, but often it's the case that it works out cheaper (and quicker) to drive. Unless the prices come down it's unlikely we can justify the cost of replacing any long journeys unless travelling alone" - Emma Lawrence.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because I live in London and the roads are so congested that driving a car is often not a feasible option" - Nick Darsley.

"Rail travel should be quicker, more comfortable and cheaper than car travel. Look to continental Europe where the travelling public has access to an affordable, sophisticated, clean, modern rail system. Such a rail system is essential to the infrastructure of any modern economy. Furthermore, the Government's refusal to provide adequate investment is serving to deprive the less well-off of the freedom of movement enjoyed by those who can afford excessive fares. It is, quite frankly, embarrassing" - Noel McLoughlin.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because as I become older this will be the only way I can make long journeys. It has to make sense not to use so much precious resource on individual transport systems when with some fearless investment our railways could link up the whole country carrying people and goods. This was the way we were going in 1950s - let's try and turn to those ideas which were working" - Jeanne Gimblett.

"I cannot drive, and must use the trains for all long distance travel. I travel to university in the nearest city, as well as to the local town to use the shops and services. Prices keep on rising, but standards are falling" - Gareth Smith.

"The railway network of Britian is one of the best ways of getting around, and certainly the best when I don't feel like driving. Affordable rail services attract people to use the railways and therefore increase patronage, this increases the amount of money that the government and train companies will invest and so with this extra money the railway network can be improved" - Matthew Plato.

"My boyfriend lives in Cambridge while he completes his degree; I live in London. I recently went to visit him, but returning the following morning I was horrified to be charged over £20. As I said to the rail worker, I could fly to Majorca for that price! Were rail fares cheaper, I would be able to stay in touch better with university friends around the country. Given the links that have been made between mental health and feeling supported and connected to family and friends, the government should make it easier for people to travel" - Lianna Hulbert.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because I need to use the train to visit family 150 miles away in South Wales" - Terry Kirby.

"I have always travelled by rail for work and leisure because I need to read and study on the journey. I want the rail network to thrive and grow, partly of course for my own use, but also strongly for environmental reasons. So I want the number of rail passengers to go on increasing. I can afford the fares but I know many who find them hard to pay; there should be better discounts for them" - Lance Pierson.

"I am an unemployed student and I cannot afford to go and visit my friends or see my family very often because I cannot afford the rail fares to get there" - Kerry Lane.

"Why is it that when you buy a rail ticket, you are not guaranteed a seat? Continental railways are a joy to travel on for this very reason. Surely if you are guaranteed your seat when you buy your ticket life would be easier for everyone, including railway workers. And from a health and safety aspect, there wouldn't be loads of people stood in gangways, between carriages and even on some occasions in the loos" - Stuart Mitchell.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because they offer true freedom from the car, allowing me to travel around the country, both for business and pleasure. I also believe that affordable train travel is a driver of social change and justice. As well as affordable fares, the Government should also take a fresh look at opening up some of the closed routes from the 1960s, such as the branch lines to Cornwall. To keep communities together and keep jobs open for young people in rural areas, reliable, accessible transport is needed" - Natalie Westwood.

"There is an alternative to driving. Prime example: about 80% of the width of Sydney Harbour Bridge is for road vehicles, yet the road only carries about 40% of the passenger miles travelled over it. The other 60% are carried by long and double decked trains that occupy a quarter of the width. I rest my case. I like trains: the technology is there, they're safer and less polluting. We can't the Government give us as good a deal on railways as citizens in the rest of the industrial world?" - Richard Goddard.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because I am such a distance from my family and I work so I visit my family at weekends" - Rosemary Cusack.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because I believe that we have a responsibility to care for our environment and public transport is far greener than individual car use" - Neil Attewell.

"Affordable rail services are vital to get more cars off the road for a greener environment. Bringing the prices down will encourage more people to use rail transport, also the trains need to run on time with more coaches: overcrowding puts people off" - William Booth.

"I have to use the train service to get to school every day (between Wokingham and Bracknell), and without cheaper services financially my life is very tight. Public transport was free to me, but now that I am in higher education it's costing a ridiculous amount per month. If the Government wants kids to stay on for sixth form I feel that they should make public transport cheaper if not free" - Peter Fellows.

"We really need affordable rail so as to get people out of cars and planes and on to sustainable forms of transport. This is important both for our wellbeing and in the fight against climate change. Many people often say to me they would love to take the greener option (the train) but that the price of tickets makes aviation and private car use more attractive. For this reason, I urge you to take action to reduce the price of train fares" - Robbie Gillett.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because I travel a lot down to the south to see relatives and at weekends I always use the train to visit friends in other places" - Laura Ellis.

"Affordable rail services are vital to me because it is now cheaper to go by car. My fare from Kings Cross to Peterborough even with seven days advance notice, booked online, is three to four times more expensive than the advance fare. Was it wise to award the East Coast rail franchise to a company whose main buisness is coach travel? Please write to nationalexpresseastcoast.co.uk with your complaints" - Chris Wright.

The comments on this page have been submitted by readers of this website. Campaign for Better Transport cannot take responsibility for the accuracy of the comments, and does not necessarily share the views expressed.

Last updated: 6 February 2014
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