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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Why I don’t travel by train.


Yesterday Myself, Mrs FE, The Boy, and his Partner, travelled from Darlington to York and back. A round total of 110 miles.

I have just calculated that we most certainly should have taken the car.

Total cost by train £63. (One member of the party had a senior rail card).

Total cost if we had taken the car. £4.20.

Thereby showing that travelling by train is 14 times more expensive than going by car. And as an aside, going by car guarantees  a seat.



  1. Not forgetting you went from door to door, it was probably quicker and even a petrol guzzler would have been cheaper!

  2. You must have a very economical car if you can travel 110 miles for £4.20!

  3. He could just about have managed 55 miles in a Nissan Leaf before the battery ran out. If he then enjoyed several hours of family fun whilst it was plugged in somewhere, he should have made it back as well...

    Just think of all that cheap wind generated electricity surging through the grid at the moment!

  4. Thereby showing that travelling by train is 14 times more expensive than going by car

    No. It shows that the cost of train tickets which presumably include a proportion of the cost of leasing the train, plus insurance, track charges, maintenance, insurance, tax, staff, fuel, etc etc, is 14 times more expensive than the cost of taking the car but NOT including the cost of buying the car, maintenance, insurance, tax, etc etc. Perhaps not a fair comparison?

  5. Ironically, the car's probably still cost £4.20 just standing on the tarmac, what with Insurance, RFL & depreciation.

  6. But, assuming that you already own a car, the fixed costs are irrelevant in working out the comparative economics of a train journey.

  7. Allow for depreciation of value of the car, insurance costs and licencing costs .
    And even green- ness.

  8. I can confidently predict the FE's response if asked to consider "green-ness" ;-)

  9. Green-ness.


    I couldn't put in words what I think.

  10. I take it you don't have an electric car then??

  11. @Microdave.

    I'm an engineer. Do you think I'd be so stupid as to buy a vehicle that can barely do 100 miles in the summer, let alone winter. I'd probably be still trying to charge it to do the last ten miles to get back to the Boy's place. let alone get home.

  12. It's true that trains are expensive (if you don't plan in advance), but £4.20 is not the total coat of going by car.

    Even a small car costs about 50p a mile to run these days, so for 110 miles it cannot have cost less than around ten times your £4.20 even if you push the figures to the limit.

    The fact that you choose to leave all the fixed costs, including the depreciation, out of your calculation doesn't change or remove those costs.

  13. But the point is, for someone who already has a car for whatever reason, it is less worthwhile to take the train. The fixed costs need to be counted when you are deciding whether to have a car at all.

    The other point to make is that on a train you are driven, so you could use that time to work and make some money, and if you are driving for an hour you will be more tired afterwards, which is also a cost if you need to get to work right after you arrive at your destination.


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