"Car journeys are a bargain next to the wretched, exorbitantly priced train"

Rail fares will rise again in 2015 but Mike Rutherford thinks they're already a monumental rip-off compared to car travel

The worst value item purchased by consumers in Britain today? That wretched piece of cardboard known as the ‘peak’ railway ticket – a product ordinary folk buy when needing to get to work, university, hospital, church, court and countless other places on time. 

Along with car insurance, inner city or airport parking charges, energy bills and mechanics charged out at £200 an hour, tickets to travel by train sit close to – if not at the very top of – the rip-off league. And just when you thought fares couldn’t get any higher, yet another round of inflation-shattering ticket price hikes is being dumped on citizens whose wages are going backwards in real terms.

Cheapest cars to run

A short, early morning, second-class (and then some!) train journey I often take costs £1.20 per minute travelled, or £72 per hour. Those doing the peak, 121-minute trip between Manchester and London (or vice versa) spend £1.33 per minute/£80 per hour. “Not expensive enough,” say rail industry fat cats with noses in the trough and lucrative bonuses in back pockets.

Their addiction to above-inflation increases should ensure train rides costing £100 per hour (second class) or nearer £150 (first) arrive soon. The £14,000-and-rising cost of a Manchester-London annual season ticket is more than enough to buy a new MINI outright. 

motorway

Forget that heinous £1.33 per minute charge to travel by train. Assuming a 60mph average speed, a basic MINI will cost 33p per minute/£19.80 per hour all-in – that’s purchase price, fuel, modest insurance policy, VED, servicing and depreciation all included. A new Skoda Citigo can scrape in under 30p per minute/£18 per hour. 

Charges to enter the fiefdom that is the ‘congestion zone’ (only a central London phenomenon) can be a problem. So vow to never enter the damned thing, thereby avoiding such charges. Parking? Search hard enough and you’ll discover it’s free all day and night in much of Greater London, and on the fringes of other towns and cities. 

Most economical cars

If you have to, park up and walk, jog, cycle, skateboard or even kayak that final mile or three of your daily commute. You’ll save a fortune – but, more importantly, you’ll own a brilliant, 24/7, state-of-the-art car... not. a wretched, exorbitantly priced ticket to travel on a rancid train.

What's your opinion on the price of rail travel and how it compares to taking the car? Join the debate on Twitter, on Facebook or in the comments section below...

Recommended

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'
Opinion

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'

Mike Rutherford thinks cars from Gerry McGovern and Marek Reichman are favourites to win design award
30 Aug 2020
'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'
Opinion

'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'

Deputy editor John McIlroy points to outgoing Skoda boss as a key reason for the firm's success
15 Jul 2020
"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"
Opinion

"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"

Mike Rutherford recounts some significant stories that may have passed you by in recent weeks
12 Jul 2020
'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'
Kia

'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'

With Kia winning the World Car of the Year 2020 award with the American-built Telluride, Mike Rutherford believes Kia has beaten Jeep at their own gam…
18 Apr 2020

Most Popular

How green are electric cars? Polestar data shows ICE trailing EV
News

How green are electric cars? Polestar data shows ICE trailing EV

Electric car maker reveals whole-life CO2 emissions of the Polestar 2 are better than a petrol XC40 - but EV is only 14% cleaner with global energy mi…
17 Sep 2020
New Nissan 400Z previewed with Z Proto concept
Nissan 370Z

New Nissan 400Z previewed with Z Proto concept

The Z Proto concept hints at the next Z car, which is likely to be named the Nissan 400Z, but the production model won’t be coming to Europe
16 Sep 2020
New BMW 128ti prototype review
BMW 1 Series

New BMW 128ti prototype review

The new BMW 128ti has its sight set on the Volkswagen Golf GTI
15 Sep 2020