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Pains, Train & Automobiles

Going somewhere nice? You might be better off by car.

Staycations. They are all the rage. Glastonbury, The Edinburgh Festival, the beautiful Welsh coast – even one of these maniacal fitness events like Tough Mudder or Iron Man… all amazing reasons to stay in the UK in 2016.

However, if youyourself have set some travel-based resolutions or compiled a must-visit list, you’ll need to get planning. Because, yet again, train tickets are on the rise. As of 1st January 2016, rail prices have gone up1.1% – in real terms, adding 11p to a journey of £10 or £1.10 to a journey of £100. This is actually the lowest price increase for years… but nevertheless, it got us thinking.

As petrol prices continue to decrease, is it cheaper to travel via train or car?:

As you can see from the map, we calculated the cost of a number of journeys, comparing a standard off-peak open return ticket with the average cost of petrol based on 3 popular cars (Ford Fiesta, Audi A3 Sportback and a Nissan Qashqai 4x4).

The results were staggering. The amount saved by car surpassed £100 for a number of journeys, especially the longer routes.

Top 10 Differences
(Top 10 cost difference return journeys between train vs car travel)

 Destination

 Car travel saving
 London - Newcastle   £158.70
 London - Edinburgh   £149.77
 London - Leeds   £133.27
 London - York   £125.56
 Glasgow - Exeter  £119.03
 London - Sheffield  £112.16
 Glasgow - Bristol  £106.00
 Glasgow - Cardiff  £102.76
 Glasgow - Swansea  £99.89
 Birmingham - Edinburgh  £80.39

Of course, when choosing train vs car, it’s not just price that one should look into. So we had a look at the actual time savings. Of the major journeys we looked at (returns from Leeds, Glasgow, Birmingham & London), we found that most showed the train beating the car for speed; perhaps unsurprisingly, the longer the journey, the greater the time saving:

  • 1st: London-Glasgow - 6½ hours saved (costs you £74.25 extra)
  • 2nd: London-Edinburgh - 5½ hours saved  (costs you £149.77 extra)
  • 3rd: London-York - 5 hours, 4 mins saved  (costs you £125.56 extra)

Looking at this a different way then, the general public may very well consider it worth the extra £74.25 to save 6 ½ hours by training from London to Glasgow.

However, when the distances aren’t quite as far, such as with the York example, are the public still willing to stick to pay £125.56 extra to take the train? Our research found the following journeys to be the most expensive for minutes saved:

  • 1st: Leeds-Cardiff - 10 mins saved  (costs you £71.67 extra or £7.17 per minute saved)
  • 2nd: London-Cardiff - 22 mins saved  (costs you £66.76 extra or £3.03 per minute saved)
  • 3rd: Glasgow-Aberdeen - 12 mins saved (costs you £32.76 extra or £2.73 per minute saved)

Finally, there were quite a few journeys where the car was actually quicker. The worst 3 return journeys by train were:

  • 1st: Birmingham-Norwich - 1 hour, 16 mins lost  (costs you £57.02 extra)
  • 2nd: Glasgow-Norwich - 1 hour, 8 mins lost  (costs you £66.62 extra)
  • 3rd: Leeds-Swansea - 56 mins lost  (costs you £95.54 extra)

It’s also worth noting that none of the journeys we measured worked out to be cheaper by train than car.

Clearly then, choosing the train has its perks. From an environmental standpoint, as well as comfort and ease, choosing train travel continues to make a lot of sense.

Conversely, Kwik Fit Insurance Services’ study shows that journeys are far from getting cheaper. And while it may be financially viable to front the cost for long journeys like London-Glasgow, the same cannot be said for key journeys such as London to Cardiff, where the public is being asked to pay £66.76 to save as little as 22 mins, or 11 minutes each way.

With car sharing on the up and petrol prices moving down, alternatives to the train are bound to be more closely considered for 2016’s staycation planners.

 

 

Notes on the Calculations

*Popular journeys from London (all), BirminghamNew Street, Glasgow Central and Leeds (Full list in tables below)

  1. Cost calculated using open return prices sourced from thetrainline.com comparing to average cost of fuel for a return journey worked from three popular car models (Ford Fiestahttp://www.ford.co.uk/Cars/Fiesta,Audi A3 Sportbackhttp://www.audi.co.uk/explore-models/fuel-calculator/compare-models.html... Nissan Qashqai 4x4http://www.nissan.co.uk/GB/en/vehicle/crossovers/qashqai/engine-and-perf...).Journey times correct on google maps as of 29/12
  2. Fuel prices correct as of 23/12/2015 http://www.petrolprices.com/
  3. Cost difference/time difference in minutes x 60
  4. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-3345481/Rail-fare-increases-...
  5. Train ticket prices correct as of 06/01/2016

Journey Calculations

1. Return Journeys from Leeds

Destination Train ticket cost (£) Hatchback fuel cost (£) Estate fuel cost (£) 4x4 fuel cost (£) Total Train Journey  Total Car Journey length in minutes Average car fuel cost Difference in £ between train and car Time difference between train and car (minutes)
Cardiff (236 miles)  £120.30  £34.86  £39.76  £48.63  510  520  £41.08  £71.67  10
Bristol (215 miles)  £112.90  £31.76  £36.22  £44.30  418  448  £37.43  £68.60  30
Birmingham (124 miles)  £60.00  £18.32  £20.89  £25.55  236  274  £21.59  £34.45  38
Exeter (285 miles)  £146.00  £42.09  £48.02  £62.71  540  612 £50.94   £83.29  72
London (192 miles)  £161.60  £28.36  £32.35  £39.56  282  462  £33.42  £122.04  180
Norwich (175 miles)  £88.90  £25.85  £29.49  £43.49  380  462  £32.94  £45.41  82
Newcastle (102 miles)  £58.40  £15.06  £17.19  £21.02  162  244  £17.76  £37.38  82
Oxford (187 miles)  £98.60  £27.62  £31.51  £38.53  210  386  £32.55  £60.07  176
Manchester (42.6 miles)  £21.60  £6.29  £7.18  £8.77  90  132  £7.41  £12.83  42
York (25.1 miles)  £17.80  £3.69  £4.22  £5.17  46  94  £4.36  £12.63  48
Liverpool (72.9 miles)  £34.10  £10.76  £12.28  £15.02  83  192  £12.69  £19.08  109
Edinburgh (222 miles)  £100.80  £32.79  £37.40  £45.74  378  494  £38.64  £55.06  116
Glasgow (221 miles)  £101.50  £32.64  £37.23  £45.54  536  482  £38.47  £55.96  -54
Sheffield (54.8 miles)  £23.00  £8.09  £9.23  £11.29  114  108  £9.54  £11.71  -6
Carlisle (152 miles)  £54.50  £22.45  £25.61  £31.32  320  308  £26.46  £23.18  -12
Swansea (264 miles)  £141.50  £39.00  £44.48  £54.40  616  560  £45.96  £95.54  -56

 

2. Return Journeys from Glasgow

Destination Train ticket cost (£) Hatchback fuel cost (£) Estate fuel cost (£) 4x4 fuel cost (£) Total Train Journey  Total Car Journey length in minutes Average car fuel cost Difference in £ between train and car Time difference between train and car (minutes)
Aberdeen (145 miles) £58.00 £21.42 £24.43  £29.88  310  322  £25.24  £32.76  12
Sheffield (257 miles) £117.50 £37.96  £42.56  £52.95  536  596  £44.49  £73.01  60
Dundee (80.9 miles) £37.40  £11.95  £13.63  £16.67  160  180  £14.08  £23.32  20
Liverpool (220 miles) £79.00  £32.50  £37.06  £54.67  414  452  £41.41  £37.59  38
Manchester (217 miles) £79.00  £32.05  £36.56  £44.71  402  444  £37.77  £41.23  42
Cardiff (392 miles) £171.00  £57.90  £66.05  £80.77  770  912  £68.24  £102.76 142 
Bristol (372 miles) £172.50  £54.95  £62.68  £81.86  676  840  £66.50  £106.00  164
Exeter (445 miles) £196.50  £65.73  £74.98  £91.69  800  1002  £77.47  £119.03  202
Oxford (364 miles) £140.80  £53.77  £61.33  £75  628  770  £63.37  £77.43  142
Birmingham (290 miles) £126.90  £42.84  £48.86  £59.75  490  678  £50.48  £76.42  188
London (411 miles) £135.10 £60.85     £69.42     £84.89   546  892  £60.85  £74.25  346
Edinburgh (46.9 miles) £12.60  £6.93  £7.90  £9.66  98  146  £8.16  £4.44  48
Carlisle (99.3 miles) £24.60  £14.67  £16.73  £20.46  134  218  £17.29  £7.31  84
Leeds (221 miles) £101.50  £32.64  £37.23  £45.54  536  482  £38.47  £63.03  -54
York (211 miles) £95.70  £31.17  £35.55  £43.48  514  470  £36.73  £58.97  -44
Norwich (375 miles) £131.90  £55.39  £63.18  £77.26  968  900  £65.28  £66.62  -68
Newcastle (175 miles) £65.60  £25.85  £29.49  £36.06  366  354  £30.47  £35.13  -12
Inverness (170 miles)  £55.70  £25.11  £28.64  £35.03  396  390  £29.59  £26.11  -6
Swansea (428 miles) £174.40  £63.22  £72.11  £88.19  884  848  £74.51  £99.89  -36

 

3. Return Journeys from Birmingham

Destination Train ticket cost (£) Hatchback fuel cost (£) Estate fuel cost (£) 4x4 fuel cost (£) Train journey time (min) Car journey time (min) Average car cost Difference in £ between train and car Time difference between train and car (minutes)
Newcastle (210.3 miles)  £109.50  £31.06  £35.43  £43.24  400  456  £36.58  £72.92  56
Leeds (118.3 miles)  £60.00  £17.47  £19.93  £24.37  235  266  £20.59  £39.41  31
Edinburgh (291 miles)  £131.00  £42.98  £49.03  £59.83  494  632  £50.61  £80.39  138
Bristol (97.6 miles)  £54.00  £14.41  £16.44  £20.11  174  206  £16.99  £37.01  32
Exeter (170.4 miles)  £90.60 £25.17   £28.71  £35.03  298  354  £29.64  £60.96  56
Cardiff (117.6 miles)  £55.60  £17.37  £19.81  £24.23  228  262  £20.47  £35.13  34
Glasgow (289.6 miles)  £126.90  £42.78  £48.79  £59.67  504  588  £50.41  £76.49  84
York (132.3 miles)  £62.80  £19.54  £22.29  £27.26  258  308  £23.03  £39.77 50 
Oxford (78.5 miles)  £36.60  £11.59  £13.23  £16.17  140  172  £13.66  £22.94  32
Carlisle (193.2 miles)  £88.20  £25.83  £32.55  £39.80  328  414  £32.73 £55.47   86
Sheffield (84.4 miles)  £44.40  £12.47  £14.22  £17.39  148  204  £14.69  £29.71  56
Manchester (86.5 miles)  £36.50  £12.78  £14.57  £17.82  176  242  £15.06  £21.44  66
London  £52.20  £18.61  £21.22  £25.96  172  278  £21.93  £30.27  106
Liverpool (98.3 miles)  £37.80  £14.52  £16.56  £20.25  190  242  £17.11  £20.69  52
Norwich (159 miles)  £84.70  £23.49  £26.78  £32.76  462  386  £27.68  £57.02  -76
Swansea (154 miles)  £71.20  £22.75  £25.95  £31.73  350  322  £26.81  £44.39  -28

 

4. Return Journeys from London

Destination Train ticket cost (£) Hatchback fuel cost (£) Estate fuel cost (£) 4x4 fuel cost (£) Train journey time (min) Car journey time (min) Average car cost Difference in £ between train and car Time difference between train and car (minutes)
 Cardiff (153 miles)  £93.40  £22.60   £25.78   £31.53  350  372  £26.64  £66.76  22
 Norwich (115 miles)  £52.20   £16.98     £19.38   £23.70  236  278  £16.98  £35.22  42
 Bristol (117 miles)  £71.20   £17.28   £19.71   £24.11  230  282  £20.37  £50.83  52
 Leeds (192 miles)  £161.60   £28.33   £32.34   £39.56  308  486  £28.33  £133.27  178
 Sheffield (176 miles)  £142.80   £26.00   £29.65   £36.26  270  440  £30.64  £112.16  170
 Newcastle (274 miles)  £206.40   £40.47   £46.17   £56.46  378  680  £47.70  £158.70  302
 Edinburgh (415 miles)  £211.10   £61.33   £69.92   £85.51  618  948  £61.33  £149.77  330
 York (207 miles)  £161.60   £30.58   £34.88  £42.65  222  526  £36.04  £125.56  304
 Oxford (57.2 miles)  £27.50   £8.44   £9.64  £11.79  124  174  £8.44  £19.06  50
 Exeter (200 miles)  £72.30   £29.54   £33.70  £41.20  278  462  £29.54  £42.76  184
 Liverpool (220 miles)  £82.40   £32.51   £37.06  £45.33  302  518  £32.51  £49.89  216
 Carlisle (314 miles)  £114.50   £46.38   £52.90  £64.70  392  672  £54.66  £59.84  280
 Manchester (218 miles)  £82.40   £32.21   £36.73  £44.91  254  500  £32.21  £50.19  246
 Glasgow (412 miles)  £135.10   £60.85  £69.42  £84.89  542  932  £60.85  £74.25  390
 Birmingham (126 miles)  £52.20   £18.61   £21.22  £25.96  170  320  £21.93  £30.27  150
Swansea (187 miles)  £101.00  £27.62  £31.51  £38.53  368  418  £32.55  £68.45  50
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