RAIL passengers across Dorset are being forced to subsidise rail passengers in the rest of the country – by paying more for their journey, according to a new study.

The report, published by economic Thinktank, the Southern Policy Centre, which used payment data from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), claimed that each rail passenger on South Western Railway paid 16.6p per mile more than the actual cost of running the service.

This totalled an overpayment of £662m.

However, in contrast, rail operators across the North of England received cash subsidies of between 8p and 17p per mile, amounting to a total cash subsidy of £625m to support rail services.

This meant that the total payment from South Western Railway accounted for 55 per cent of the total subsidy paid by UK rail operators of £1.9bn.

Currently, train operating companies (TOCs) have a franchise with the Department for Transport (DfT) which determines how much the passengers pay.

However, The Southern Policy Centre says this method is ripping rail passengers across the south off by forcing them to pay premium ticket prices in order to reduce ticket costs for passengers in other parts of the UK.

Professor John Denham, centre chair, said: “Rail passengers in the south are not only be asked to pay for their own rail journeys but are being forced to subsidise rail services across the rest of England, Scotland and Wales.

“There may well be a good case for subsidising some services but, if there is, surely the cost should fall on taxpayers as a whole, not just on one group of passengers in one small part of the county.

“If local passengers were treated fairly, the cost of their season ticket would be falling, not rising.”

However, in response, a Department for Transport spokesperson said that the rail network across the country was receiving a record level of investment since the Victorian times which was being shared fairly.

They added that the Southern Western Railway franchise alone was receiving an investment of £1.2bn.