An industry survey has revealed that almost half of prospective buyers believe it will take them seven years or more to raise the deposit they need to purchase a season ticket allowing them to travel to work by train.
‘In the current economic climate, how anyone can expect me to raise £4,360 to travel into London for the year is beyond me,’ said Sally Dyson of Stevenage. ‘I got a mortgage for my home but no one seems prepared to lend me the money I need to get to work. Until the banks start lending again people like me can’t even hope to get on the season ticket ladder.’
Those that have managed to secure loans for season tickets say it was a rigorous process. ‘It took a long time to persuade a bank that lending me the money to get from Orpington to London Victoria was a wise investment,’ said Darren Tulley. ‘They did a full credit check and wanted to see a year’s worth of payslips and bank statements. In the end they only agreed when I put my house up as collateral.’
But for many moving from renting a monthly return to owning an annual season ticket remains only a dream. ‘My dad left me his old season ticket to use as equity, but it was on the market for nine months and I didn’t even have one viewer,’ complained Mark Costa of Colchester in Essex. ‘In the end I had to walk to work. I set off first thing Monday and got to London by Wednesday morning, but by the time I’d opened a few emails it was time to leave again for the weekend. Luckily now it’s a much shorter commute to the Jobcentre.’
While season ticket price increases have been limited this year, rail companies insist that train tickets remain a sound investment. ‘It’s still a buyer’s market,’ said Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies. ‘Just look at the off-peak returns we sold in 2011 – if we were selling them today they’d fetch at least 20% more.’