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Wednesday, 8 August, 2001, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
Train journey 'cheaper by car'
The train was quicker
A return trip from London to Newcastle is cheaper if two people buy a car specially for the journey rather than take a peak time train, a study suggests.

Researchers from Auto Express motoring magazine found that two open-return train tickets cost 314.

But the price of buying a second-hand Ford Sierra, taxing, insuring and filling it with petrol for the 635-mile (1,016-kilometre) round trip was less than 200.

Ford Sierra
But are you better off buying a car?
The 1990 Sierra 1.6L, with 130,000 miles (208,000 km) on the clock, was bought at auction for 40 plus a 10 buyer's premium.

A month's insurance cost 44.18, while six months' road tax was 88 - later reduced to 14.67 after a five-month refund claimed at the end of the journey.

The petrol cost 87.53, and recycled lubricant used to top up the car was 2.99.

The one advantage that the train had over the car, according to the researchers, was the time the journeys took.

By car the trip lasted more than five hours one-way, travelling at 70mph (112km/h).

How they fared
Peak time open-return ticket: 157
Total cost of train journey for two: 314


Buying car at auction: 40
Buyer's premium: 10
Month's insurance: 44.18
Month's road tax: 14.67
Petrol: 87.53
Lubricant: 2.99
Total cost of car journey: 199.37

The train took just three hours and 20 minutes.

Auto Express editor David Johns said: "It might take longer to get there, but the car is cheaper, more comfortable and more civilised than the train."

"The obvious key to tempting people out of their cars and onto the trains is to make them cheaper - a job the government says it cannot do."

But a spokesman for train operator Great North Eastern Railways (GNER) was reported to have said that passengers could avoid paying the open-return fare by booking in advance.

He added that peak-time travellers could make phone calls and use their lap-top computers in a dedicated coach with complimentary drinks.

The train will always beat the car as it is not possible to do any work when you are driving

Association of Train Operating Companies
A few 31 tickets were available on each London to Newcastle train, but they had to be bought seven days in advance.

Passengers prepared to limit themselves to specific trains for both legs of their journey would usually pay less than the full open-return fare if they booked in advance.

A spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) said: "Most leisure passengers want to travel at off-peak times.

"If you book in advance and want to travel off-peak, there are some excellent deals.

The spokesman added: "The train will always beat the car as it is not possible to do any work when you are driving."

See also:

30 May 01 | UK
Train fares 'could double'
02 Apr 01 | Scotland
Rail company cuts fares
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