Rail stations cash in on ATM users

Caroline Cassidy

When you're running late for the train or desperate for a bite to eat on the motorway, it's always a relief to find a cash machine at your disposal at the station or motorway services. But what is it costing you?

Customer taking cash from ATM
Customer taking cash from ATM

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It turns out, convenience comes at a price. Many of Britain's busiest motorway services and mainline train stations are charging an average of almost £2 for customers to access their own money - a rise of 11 per cent over the last two years.

And there has been almost unanimous condemnation of these escalating fees, many of which have sprung up where once the ATMs were free to use.

Eddy Weatherill, of the Independent Banking Advisory Service, told the Daily Mail: "The convenience of having these ATMs at petrol garages and train stations comes at a very high cost.

"Families who draw out only a small amount to buy snacks and drinks are being charged £2 for the privilege. They're a captive market for the companies who run these extremely profitable machines."

Stations including Doncaster, St Albans, Manchester Piccadilly and Basingstoke all now feature machines that are effectively pay-to-use, while a number of motorway service stations on the M1, M6, M4, M11 and M25 are also cashing in.

And just to ensure they are making the most of their machines, which are typically supplied by specialist firms with profits shared with the train or service stations in question, some are refusing to offer a cash back facility, thereby forcing customers to head for the ATM.

Sarah Brooks, head of financial services watchdog Consumer Focus, added: "It is difficult to justify these fees in terms of costs incurred, particularly when this service has been free at many of these places before.

"People at train stations may have no alternative but to pay to access their own money."

The message is simple - plan ahead and don't get caught out by the cash machines that are cashing in.

What do you think? Should pay-to-use cash machines be banned? Leave your comments below...