Station car park charges

Please note, prices at station car parks are not regulated.

The decision to charge for car parking at a station and, if so, at what level is a commercial decision for the station operator, as it is for any other commercial car parking provider.

If you have concerns about the price of parking at a train station, your first step should be to contact the station operator and voice those concerns.

We enforce the Competition Act 1998, which makes it illegal for companies to do certain things, for example, use their powerful position in the market to take advantage of consumers or fix prices and we may conduct an investigation if we have reasonable grounds to suspect the law has been broken.

Please view our guide on Complaints about rail fares and car-park charges – the role of competition law and set of quick reference question and answers on this topic below. If, after reading our guide you think we should look at the price of your car park, please go to our page on how to report a breach of competition law.

Questions and answers

This Q&A accompanies the guide on 'Complaints about rail fares and car-park charges' and provides a little more detail to answer some questions you might have.

I cannot walk for 15 minutes to the station, does that mean the car-park charge could be unfair?

We recognise that some people may not have an alternative, but under competition law we need to look at the choices that all of the people who use the train service or station car park could make. Customers as a group may have enough choices to prevent prices from being too high, even if a few people do not. This is because the risk of losing business should stop companies from charging too much.

Would a trend towards higher premiums and lower subsidies mean higher prices and more likelihood that those prices are illegally high?

As we say in our guide, the Government wants the best-value deal for passengers and taxpayers, so it gets companies to compete for contracts (franchises) to provide services. One of the ways that a train company can increase its income is by raising fares and car-park charges. Another way might be by attracting more people to use its services.

Higher fares and car-park charges do not necessarily mean higher profits for the train company though. This is because the train company's profits will be affected by the amount of premium it pays or subsidy it receives.

Think of a premium as a cost and a subsidy as income. For prices to be too high under competition law, the income a train company earns would have to be much higher than the train company's costs. If the competition for the franchise has worked well and things go roughly as expected, there will not normally be any prices that are high enough to mean the law has been broken.

Further information