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Car travel being cheaper than train travel?

PauloDavesi

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People need to remember that public transport is not suitable for every journey. People need to go places not served by public transport, or at times when public transport isn't a viable option. Also it is difficult to make a trip to multiple locations easily, and quickly, when using public transport. There are also times when you need to carry more items than can easily be carried by hand.
For the majority of the population using the car they already own and have paid to use is the most viable option, not only financially, but for comfort, fleibility and reliability.
 
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RailUK Forums

Butts

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On Long Distance from Scotland to London the obvious choice is Railair - Fly down and get the tube or train into Central London.

Beats driving hands down and is often cheaper particularly for solo travellers.
 

Bald Rick

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On Long Distance from Scotland to London the obvious choice is Railair - Fly down and get the tube or train into Central London.

It is a choice, but not so obvious for the 30-40% who choose to use the train.
 

ABB125

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It would be nice for rail to be cheaper. But in practise it's never going to happen unless driving costs £2 per mile or something ridiculous.

Consider this: last month, I went on a mini-holiday photographing the GBRF railtour in (mostly) Scotland, by car. Two thirds of the total cost was petrol, £120 in total at 60mpg. I did about 1200 miles, from Worcestershire to Glasgow (via several stop-off points in Cumbria to investigate potential photographic locations), Glasgow to Oban then Carlisle (with a total of 10 photo stops), and Carlisle to London to Worcestershire (via a couple more stops). A comparable journey by rail (ignoring the fact that it would be impossible to check out lineside photo stops, overtake the train as it winds its way through the Highlands at an average speed of under 30mph etc if travelling by train) would cost more and significantly reduce the scope of my trip. Using flexible tickets, TrainSplit will give me a cost of £105 for Birmingham-Oban return, to which I'd have to add the costs of getting to Birmingham, plus the dog-leg to London. This is actually a bit cheaper than I was expecting, but if I didn't have a Railcard, it would be far more. Plus, as I've already mentioned, for this trip the car gave far, far more flexibility.
Now, let's say that I went with a friend. My fuel cost would halve, but my train tickets would cost the same. No contest!

I enjoy train travel, hence I go on various leisure trips when time allows. I also enjoy driving, but I don't go on driving leisure trips (ie: going out for a drive on a Sunday evening because I can) in the way that I do by rail. Perhaps this indicates that rail travel doesn't need to be any cheaper?


(Incidentally, I recently discovered that a seal in the engine on my car was broken, resulting in exhaust gasses leaking out and being sucked into the passenger compartment by the fan. Probably been like that for several months or more. Not something you want if you're doing 1200 miles in 3 days! At least on a train you generally don't have to worry about stuff like this... :D)
 

TravelDream

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On Long Distance from Scotland to London the obvious choice is Railair - Fly down and get the tube or train into Central London.

Beats driving hands down and is often cheaper particularly for solo travellers.

I have to agree.
Even city centre to centre (say Palace of Westminster to Edinburgh Castle) the plane is likely quicker and often cheaper.

Of course a big difference with flights is that prices can vary a lot and there is no ceiling as such. You also have to be careful comparing air fares though. With British Airways and most traditional airlines a return is often cheaper than a single. I have a couple of times booked a return knowing I'd never use it as it was cheaper than just buying the single.

An example trip - London to Edinburgh on Wednesday 13th going up in the morning and returning in the evening.
You could take easyjet from Stansted for £113 return or Gatwick return for £127 both with decent times for a day there or BA from London City for £157 return with very decent times for a business trip. Fully flexible Y tickets on BA are around £400 which essentially allow you to take any BA flight space permitted (Not as useful as pre-Covid as there are far fewer flights).
A quick look on the trains shows £205 is possible on advanced tickets with good timings or you can pay £393 for an advanced ticket for that flexibility.
For all the howls of trains take you to the centre, not everyone lives and wants to go to King's Cross. London City Airport is right next to Canary Wharf and on the DLR so hardly inconvenient.
 

Bletchleyite

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As you say not everyone lives in London. If you live in MK, Luton airport will be no less convenient than Kings Cross. There is the direct Edinburgh via Brum but it is slow.
 

ashkeba

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Now, let's say that I went with a friend. My fuel cost would halve, but my train tickets would cost the same. No contest!
That is only exactly true if your friend and their luggage weigh nothing, plus the two-person rail card is not valid for any of your journey.

It is often disappointing how many people, even rail fans, believe public transport fares always multiply and ignore the many bus and rail card discounts and group tickets.
 

Bletchleyite

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That is only exactly true if your friend and their luggage weigh nothing, plus the two-person rail card is not valid for any of your journey.

It is often disappointing how many people, even rail fans, believe public transport fares always multiply and ignore the many bus and rail card discounts and group tickets.

As a car weighs about 2 tonnes, adding one passenger and luggage (say 120kg) is de-minimis.
 

ABB125

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That is only exactly true if your friend and their luggage weigh nothing, plus the two-person rail card is not valid for any of your journey.
The increase in fuel usage is minimal. Plus, as I'm the driver I just tell the passenger how much they should pay me for fuel; occasionally, the amount quoted may be slightly more than half... :D
It is often disappointing how many people, even rail fans, believe public transport fares always multiply and ignore the many bus and rail card discounts and group tickets.
Unless the additional person is travelling for free, the cost will (at least) double (unless they're a child). I have a railcard, and any of my friends who would come on a trip such as the one I mentioned upthread would also have a railcard; thus, groupsave discounts etc won't affect the price (besides the fact that I don't believe you can get groupsave for only two people).
Note that I didn't say my rail fare would double, because it wouldn't. The cost to me would stay the same, because the other person would pay their fare.

As a car weighs about 2 tonnes, adding one passenger and luggage (say 120kg) is de-minimis.
Quite! (Though my car weighs, according to Google, just under 1.2T).
 

WestRiding

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I would have a car anyway, for other stuff I do in my life, days out, getting to airports without rail links, shopping, and all the rest of it. So I do not take into account my PCP, because I would still have a car.

It comes down to two things for me, train fare and fuel prices, and journey time. A season ticket to get me to York from Fitzwilliam is circa £3000. Yet my fuel for work and days out is £1560.
Any other rail travel I wanted to do would be at cost on top of my season ticket.

Then journey time, at best, the train would take 1hr 10mins to York. The car takes 45 mins.

And however much I would want to use train, it's impossible, because the train cannot get me to York for 06.30. I work unsociable shifts. I would still have to drive to park at Fitzwilliam, and who in their right mind would use the car park at Fitzwilliam, especially over night.
 

Bletchleyite

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I would have a car anyway, for other stuff I do in my life, days out, getting to airports without rail links, shopping, and all the rest of it. So I do not take into account my PCP, because I would still have a car.

Exactly my point. The fixed or near-fixed costs are basically a monthly membership. Almost nobody will ever account them per-journey.
 

py_megapixel

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I saw an advert the other day for vehicle insurance, with the USP being that you pay per mile based on black box data, rather than per month. Maybe if this became the standard then people would be more inclined to include insurance in the cost of their motoring.
 

Bletchleyite

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I saw an advert the other day for vehicle insurance, with the USP being that you pay per mile based on black box data, rather than per month. Maybe if this became the standard then people would be more inclined to include insurance in the cost of their motoring.

I would still prefer and choose a membership fee type approach, just as I have in the past had PTE seasons when it didn't necessarily make financial sense all the time. But in reality people wouldn't think about it because it's billed afterwards, just as I don't consider the impact this posting will have on my electricity bill.

Also, if I work out my current insurance policy on a per-mile basis it works out at about 3p a mile, which is noise-level and can be ignored. A 100 mile journey would be £3; the likely coffee or two during the journey would dwarf that.
 

james60059

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And however much I would want to use train, it's impossible, because the train cannot get me to York for 06.30. I work unsociable shifts. I would still have to drive to park at Fitzwilliam, and who in their right mind would use the car park at Fitzwilliam, especially over night.

Same situation as me, I live in Hinckley, and work at Bermuda Park - OK both have railway stations but would involve a change at Nuneaton (if only the direct Nottingham - Coventry's were still running :lol:). I work what's called the late shift from 12:30 until 21:30, so for me, the car wins hands down and always will. Same as usual day to day stuff like shopping or the school run if my partner can't do it.

Unless I'm doing a Rover or Day Ranger of some sort or going out somewhere for the day where cheap tickets are available, then I don't usually travel by rail.
 

stevetay3

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I would at one time always choose the train but after a car holiday in a friends car last month, I stoped driving a while back due to health issues,I found the car experience far less stressful than the train, no stress about overcrowding, no worries about being late or missing connections, no endless requirements to ware a mask and no social distancing problems in the car, I gather from other threads on here that social distancing is almost impossible on trains now, although I do not mind being near other people myself, what does concern me is all the reports of short forms, overcrowding and the fact most are still running lockdown timetables.
 

cactustwirly

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On Long Distance from Scotland to London the obvious choice is Railair - Fly down and get the tube or train into Central London.

Beats driving hands down and is often cheaper particularly for solo travellers.

Quite, when I went to Glasgow for a few days in August, it worked out cheaper to fly with with BA than take the train*
And of course it was better, as I was sat in a plane for an hour, and not stuck on a pendolino for 5 hours.

*The London to Glasgow fare was actually cheaper, but as I booked a package the hotels etc and other costs worked out cheaper than booking train and hotels separately.
 

ashkeba

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I would at one time always choose the train but after a car holiday in a friends car last month, I stoped driving a while back due to health issues,I found the car experience far less stressful than the train, no stress about overcrowding, no worries about being late or missing connections, no endless requirements to ware a mask and no social distancing problems in the car,
Why no worries about being late? One bad thing happens and a road can be closed for hours, with no rescue train coming for you and no access to drink or toilets. And what car is big enough to allow social distancing?

I gather from other threads on here that social distancing is almost impossible on trains now, although I do not mind being near other people myself, what does concern me is all the reports of short forms, overcrowding and the fact most are still running lockdown timetables.
Distancing is possible on most trains but some are too busy and the reduced services are a problem contributing to it. That needs to end but I am not sure if too many staff are isolating to permit it.
 

Bletchleyite

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Why no worries about being late? One bad thing happens and a road can be closed for hours, with no rescue train coming for you and no access to drink or toilets.

This happens so rarely that it makes national news, and thus the risk of it happening is overstated, like the risk of being in a plane crash.

And what car is big enough to allow social distancing?

Generally one travels by car with people one would not see it as necessary to distance from, mostly a single household.
 

ashkeba

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This happens so rarely that it makes national news, and thus the risk of it happening is overstated, like the risk of being in a plane crash.
Not national news. It might make Look East or Midlands Today on a slow news day, like a similar size train problem, unless it is on the scale of the Stansted M11 snow closure since some years ago.


Generally one travels by car with people one would not see it as necessary to distance from, mostly a single household.
So one diesel engine per family and people elsewhere on here are suggesting that one per train is shameful and should be banned. I am reminded carsharing never really caught on here, unlike some other places.
 

TravelDream

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Why no worries about being late? One bad thing happens and a road can be closed for hours, with no rescue train coming for you and no access to drink or toilets. And what car is big enough to allow social distancing?

I sometimes wonder whether some comments are serious.

Yes. roads can shut just like train lines can, but cars can very easily divert if there's an accident. Many people have RAC/AA or similar which will 'rescue' you if you break down. Both events are relatively rare.
In a car, you are generally traveling with family/ someone you are going to spend a significant amount of time with making social distancing meaningless. Train carriages might have 100 strangers where it's more important.
 

stevetay3

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Why all this ok with people you know, the virus isn’t fussed who it infects, it does not know if you are with friends or not or any Tom, Dick or Harry you will catch it either way.
 

Dai Corner

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Why all this ok with people you know, the virus isn’t fussed who it infects, it does not know if you are with friends or not or any Tom, Dick or Harry you will catch it either way.
If you have friends round to your home do you insist they wear masks, sit in a different room to you and keep the window open?
 

stevetay3

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If you have friends round to your home do you insist they wear masks, sit in a different room to you and keep the window open?
I would not insist that anyone ware a mask anywhere as I do not ware one anywhere myself .I believe in freedom of choice and if someone wishes to ware a mask that’s fine by me.
 

TravelDream

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Why all this ok with people you know, the virus isn’t fussed who it infects, it does not know if you are with friends or not or any Tom, Dick or Harry you will catch it either way.

?
Again, is this comment serious?

Of course the virus doesn't discriminate who it infects.

However, if I am spending the whole weekend with friends/ family away going to bars/ restaurants/ theatres/ hotels rooms and houses etc. etc., it is pure Covid-theatre to say that because we could social distance on a train (if it weren't crowded), it is safer than a car journey.
 

deltic

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I dont think I will replace my car once it is up for replacement. Based on the personal mileage I do it costs in the region of 50p a mile to operate once you include depreciation and all the annual insurance, service, parking permit etc. The average mileage for private cars is only 6,700 miles a year. So at a guess around a quarter of motorists drive less than 3,000 miles a year where it probably makes little sense to own a car if you live in an urban area.
 

Ken H

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I dont think I will replace my car once it is up for replacement. Based on the personal mileage I do it costs in the region of 50p a mile to operate once you include depreciation and all the annual insurance, service, parking permit etc. The average mileage for private cars is only 6,700 miles a year. So at a guess around a quarter of motorists drive less than 3,000 miles a year where it probably makes little sense to own a car if you live in an urban area.
Quite different if you live in the sticks, with little public transport.
 

gg1

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I dont think I will replace my car once it is up for replacement. Based on the personal mileage I do it costs in the region of 50p a mile to operate once you include depreciation and all the annual insurance, service, parking permit etc. The average mileage for private cars is only 6,700 miles a year. So at a guess around a quarter of motorists drive less than 3,000 miles a year where it probably makes little sense to own a car if you live in an urban area.

Purely on the basis of cost (and crucially if you're sufficiently able bodied to be able to get around by walking/cycling/buses/trains) I agree, but cost isn't the only criteria for deciding whether or not to own a car.
 

deltic

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Quite different if you live in the sticks, with little public transport.
Depends on the availability of minicabs and hire cars - which can be cheaper than owning a car for the very low mileage user especially with home delivery of so many goods these days
 

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