Double blow to commuters as rent rises outpace rail fare hikes

Warren Lewis
5th January 2018

The latest data and analysis from Landbay has revealed that tenants in almost half of London’s most popular commuter towns face a greater overall financial burden from growing rents than from train fares.

In a week that saw train season ticket prices rise by the biggest increase to fares since 2013 (an average of 3.6% across the UK),  Landbay’s Rental Index, powered by MIAC, shows that of the capital’s 40 commuter belt hotspots, all found in the East or South East of England, 17 towns are being hit with a double blow, with extra annual expenditure on rail fares surpassed by spending on higher rents.

According to the data, average rents in these 17 towns, rose by an average of £183 (1.68%) in the year to December, while rail fares have jumped by an average of £142 (3.6%).

Combining annual rental and rail fare increases, commuters in these regions are facing a total additional outlay of £325 a year. Cambridge and Brighton have seen the greatest monetary rise in rents, £228 (2.06%) and £202 (1.58%) respectively, as rail fares in both regions rose by £172 and £163.

A further 6 towns in London’s commuter belt saw rents rise by more than 1% in 2017, double that of the UK average. Luton, Hastings, Basingstoke, Ashford, Canterbury and Horsham have seen rents rise by an average of £146, almost as much as the average £166 increase in rail fares.

Commuters living in Guildford, Reigate and Woking, which all saw rents fall by £127 (-0.73%) in 2017, will be saving enough to offset the rail fare hikes of £126, £99 and £113 respectively. Those in Aylesbury and High Wycombe (-£43) and Slough (-£4), have also made rent savings, but hardly enough to chip away at the £141, £124 and £91 increase to train fares.
There are now signs that demand for low-rent accommodation by long-distance commuters to London is pushing up rents in these areas. 31 of the 40 most popular commuter routes have seen rents rise by more than the UK average of 0.56%, and by as much as 2.15% in Southend on Sea and 2.06% in Cambridgeshire. Only Slough (-0.04%), Buckinghamshire (-0.31%) and Surrey (-0.73%) have seen rents fall, while Reading (0.03%) and Bracknell Forest (0.05%) have seen sub-average growth. This is in stark contrast to London, where they fell by -0.80% in 2017. Nevertheless, with rents in the capital averaging £1,872 they remain more than twice the £765 across the rest of England.

UK Rental Index


YoY %

MoM %

Av. £

















Northern Ireland








UK without London




John Goodall, CEO and founder of Landbay, said: “Commuters have seen their season ticket prices rise by more than £100 this week, the vast majority of whom are also looking at a double whammy of rent rises driven by greater tenant demand. At a time when rents in the capital are falling, some may even be considering a move into London, to be done with the train commute altogether.

With inflation riding so high, rail fare growth shows no sign of slowing, and without a radical house building plan for purchase as well as purpose-built rental properties, rental price growth is expected to accelerate this year as well.”

Related articles
More from Finance
Latest from Financial Reporter
Latest from Commercial Reporter