British rail passengers are having to fork out £4.6 billion a year more than travellers on France's public owned railways, transport union RMT revealed today.
Fares on Britain's privatised network are four times more expensive than their French equivalent, according to an RMT report by research firm Just Economics found that lower and middle-income families were being "completely priced out of the rail market" following years of fares rises.
Overcrowding on British railways was also far worse than in other countries, including France, Spain, Germany and Italy.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "Like the McNulty review, this study compares privatised UK rail with European services, but, unlike McNulty, it has not turned a blind eye to the huge social and economic cost of privatisation.
"We already knew that Britain's railways are the most expensive in Europe, but this study exposes the shocking degree to which UK rail users are being fleeced by the greed and stunning inefficiency of the rail privateers and made to suffer unnecessary overcrowding."
Report author Eilis Lawlor said: "The logic behind the privatisation of the UK's railways was to increase efficiency and reduce costs. This has not happened, yet we are still being told that rail networks can only be run effectively by the private sector."