So many first class rail tickets were issued to officials and councillors last year by Birmingham City Council that the local authority is insisting on a #9,000 administration fee before disclosing its extensive travel arrangements.
The demand for payment was in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Birmingham Post for facts and figures about first class train journeys paid for by the council during 2005.
Work involved in researching the tickets would be so extensive that it would cost more than #9,000 to collate the information, based on a rate of #25 an hour for staff working on the task, according to the council.
An identical argument was put forward in response to a Post request for details of all taxi journeys by councillors and council officers.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, public bodies can levy "reasonable" charges if the cost in staff time of complying with a request for information exceeds #450.
There are 120 Birmingham councillors and about 30,000 non-teaching council staff, but it is thought most would not regularly qualify for the payment of rail or taxi fares during their official duties.
Council spokeswoman Patricia Adams said the information sought by The Post was not held centrally.
Initial estimates were that the cost of furnishing The Post with information about rail and taxi fares would be in excess of #9,000, she added.
Ms Adams said: "If you are prepared, in principal (sic) , to pay the additional costs, we will, upon receipt of your confirmation, forward an estimate of the costs, and upon receipt of cleared funds, we will release the information requested."
As a compromise, Ms Adams suggested The Post could scale down its request to cover, for example, rail fares for one month. Such a request would not breach the #450 level.
Tim Huxtable, secretary of the Conservative group, with responsibility for sanctioning foreign travel, said he believed the majority of rail journeys were standard class.
Coun Huxtable (Con Bournville) added: "I would expect people to travel by standard class unless there were very special reasons not to do so.
"Whenever I have gone down to London on council business I have travelled by standard class. Whenever possible I go by the Chiltern Line from Snow Hill because it is so much cheaper than Virgin."
Tony Lennox, acting editor of The Birmingham Post, is to use the council's appeals process in an attempt to secure a change of heart.
Mr Lennox said: "The idea that a newspaper should pay more than #9,000 to obtain information of great public interest is outrageous.
"We specifically limited our request to details of first class rail fares, on the assumption that the vast majority of tickets purchased by the council would be standard class, or even saver-fares.
"It would appear that Birmingham City Council regularly indulges in expensive first class travel for officials and councillors, so much so that it would cost a small fortune to compile the details."
* The council has turned down a Post appeal against its refusal to release reports about the cost of building a new city library.
An appeals panel said publication of information providing a further breakdown of the costs of different options would adversely impact upon the council's tendering processes.