Half of Britons are deterred from rail travel by high ticket costs, a survey by The Royal Academy of Engineering suggests.

As a number of operators announce above inflation price hikes an opinion poll by the Academy shows that 47 percent of people are reluctant to use train services due to the cost of travel. Almost a third of those polled also cited unreliability and overcrowding as additional factors that deterred them from using the train.

The survey into transport usage suggested that:

  • 47 per cent of people believe that high fares deter them from train travel
  • 30 per cent are concerned about the reliability of trains
  • 29 per cent are put off by overcrowding

The same poll also found that whilst people perceive road transportation to be the biggest source of UK carbon emissions, most are unwilling to leave their car at home. Of those polled, 35 per cent believed the road network to be the most significant creator of carbon dioxide; compared with the 22 per cent that blamed commercial and private sector industries and the 18 percent that held power stations responsible.

Despite this only 3 per cent claimed that reducing the use of their car was the most important step they were taking to combat climate change.

Professor Roderick Smith, a Fellow of the Academy, responded to the findings:

“The results of the poll appear to show a large discrepancy in our attitudes to transportation. We accept that in order to lower carbon emissions we have to reduce our dependence on the car, but conversely we aren’t tempted onto public transport due to issues surrounding cost and quality.”

“The government and train operators must take note of this as it makes our emissions reduction targets almost impossible to meet.”

The poll also investigated the issue of road congestion and found the public to be fiercely against further taxes or charges. When asked how to reduce congestion, the poll found clear support for government subsidies on public transport:

  • Subsidise public transport to make it more attractive (64 per cent)
  • Introduce congestion charge zones across the country (6 per cent)
  • Increase taxes to build more roads (6 per cent)
  • Raise the price of fuel to deter car use (2 per cent)

Notes for editors

  1. The sample of 500 people was drawn at random from adults throughout Great Britain with quotas set for age and gender.
  2. 500 interviews were conducted by telephone.
  3. Estimated statistical accuracy: +/- 3% to +/- 4% for the whole sample at the 95% confidence interval.
  4. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship - comprising the UK's most eminent engineers - provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain's engineering community.

For more information please contact

Richard Wilson at The Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. +44 (0) 20 7766 0620