The ‘£5k commuter club’: Who pays that sum to get to work?

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Image copyright Agatha and Alistair Carter
Image caption Agatha Carter is in the £5k commuter club – and her husband Alistair almost is

Rail fares are set to rise next year, meaning more of us are joining the so-called £5k commuter club – workers who pay that sum getting to and from work each year.

So who are its members and where do they live?

Season tickets to London are already above £5,000 from places such as Milton Keynes (£5,028 to London) and Portsmouth and Southsea in Hampshire (£5,048).

When fares increase in January 2018, London commuters in Oxford, Colchester in Essex and Hastings in East Sussex are also set to join the club.

Alistair Carter, from Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire, avoids the £5k commuter club – but only because he cycles the final leg to his Mayfair office.

His wife Agatha is already a member – she pays £5,092 ever year, including Tube travel.

“I have said to my boss that when my fare hits £5,000 I will be looking for a new job,” says Alistair, a recruiter, whose ticket to London currently costs £4,094 a year.

To compound matters, he says their 45-minute journey is normally delayed by 10 to 15 minutes.

“There is only one line in and one line out – whenever there’s a problem with a train the whole line grinds to a halt,” he says.

The couple moved out of London in 2013 to buy a bigger house, but are now considering staying in hotels a few days a week instead of buying a season ticket.

“We went to an Adele concert recently and stayed in a hotel for £42,” he says. “I said to my wife it would be cheaper to stay in London.”

Train operators in England and Wales are expected to hike season ticket fares by up to 3.6% from January 2018.

The rises are pegged to inflation figures from July, but we will not know the exact price rises until later this year.

Could your station soon be in the club?

Image copyright Comstock
  • Oxford to London Terminals NOW: £4,920 (+3.6% = £5,097)
  • Colchester to London Terminals NOW: £4,928 (+3.6% = £5,105)
  • Crowhurst, East Sussex to London St Pancras NOW: £4,952 (+3.6% = £5,130)
  • Chichester to London Terminals NOW: £4,836 (+3.6% = £5,010)

Based on annual National Rail season ticket to London Terminals

The £5k club’s growth is in part due to people travelling further and longer to get to work.

Back in 2010, 2.8 million people made daily commutes of two hours or more – but this has increased to 3.7 million today, according to the Office for National Statistics.

In the club is Matt Blackwell, a sub-editor from Leicester, who combines a 70-minute train journey and two-mile cycle to get to his office in London.

He says next year’s fare increase is “not an ideal situation” as he already pays £9,000 a year.

Image copyright Matt Blackwell
Image caption In the club: Matt Blackwell, who lives in Leicester with partner Niki

Matt, 27, says: “My partner is a teacher and works in Leicester. I work in the media, which is largely London-based.

“I lose a crippling £750 from my salary each month in repayments to my company, which covered the upfront cost of my ticket.”

He adds: “Even if the increase is minor come next January – when my season ticket runs out – I’m really not sure that I can afford to accommodate it, especially when I am far from guaranteed a rise in my salary.”

But in the darkness, there is a chink of light – because the price rise takes effect from 1 January, commuters who buy an annual season ticket before 31 December pay this year’s price rises.

Are you in the £5k commuter club, or are you about to become an unfortunate member? Share your thoughts using the hashtag #£5kcommuterclub or contact us at

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