NETWORK Rail has forked out more than £23 million on car hire in the space of four years.
Figures show that in 2014/15 the organisation responsible for managing Britain’s railway tracks and many key stations spent just over £8 million on the hiring of vehicles.
And so far in 2015/16 just over £8.3 million has been spent.
The statistics represent a huge jump in Network Rail spending on hire cars.
Just under £2.5 million was dished out in 2012/13, rising to almost £4.6 million in 2013/14.
Therefore, combined spending for the latest four-year period totals almost £23.5 million.
Shadow transport secretary Lilian Greenwood told the Press Association the figures are “more evidence” that rail commuters are “getting a raw deal”.
“No wonder passengers think they’re getting ripped off when even rail bosses are spending millions to hire cars instead of getting the train,” she said.
“Some journeys by car will be necessary, but Network Rail must explain why its spending on hire cars has rocketed by an incredible 234% in just four years.
“Rail fares have increased by 25% since 2010 and passengers aren’t seeing the improvements that they were promised. Many rail commuters don’t have the choice to travel by car and this is just more evidence that they are getting a raw deal.”
Figures released by the Department for Transport in response to a written parliamentary question from Ms Greenwood revealed that more than £16 million has been spent on car hire by Network Rail in the last two years.
The statistics for 2012/13 and 2013/14 were published by Network Rail on its website.
The Department for Transport also published data showing how much Highways England has spent on the same thing.
In 2014/15 it was just over £630,000 and so far in 2015/16 it is more than £750,000.
A Network Rail spokesman said: “Our staff travel by rail wherever possible, but it’s vital our frontline staff have access to road vehicles so they can carry out their work, night and day, including vital maintenance and repairs.
“The contract we have in place for hire vehicles provides preferential rates for Network Rail and we constantly strive to reduce our spend.”