Which is cheaper: commuting by car or train?
Filed under: Motoring
But who is right? Which form of commute is cheaper?
The winnerA study by thinkmoney.co.uk looked at the cost of eight key commutes across the UK - and compared the cost of an annual rail season ticket with the cost of owning and travelling by car.
The results were striking: commuting by car is by far the most expensive way to travel.
A typical rail commuter pays £2,440 a year, compared with around £4,800 for a typical Ford Focus driver.
The average annual train season ticket across all eight commuter routes comes to £2,440, or 16p per mile. Paying monthly instead of annually brings this up to £2,808, or 18p per mile.
By comparison, a typical Ford Focus driver would pay £4,791.50 a year, or 31p per mile - including fuel, tax, insurance, car loan payments and maintenance costs.
On six of the eight commuter routes, the train was cheaper - sometimes dramatically so.
A better way?The site then did the maths while applying basic money-saving advice.
Even if you were to car share with three other people (which would be incredibly hard to co-ordinate) you'd save on petrol but would still end up paying less on the train. For example, a Ford Focus driver sharing with 3 other people still pays around 19p per mile, or £3,037.11 a year.
Assuming you trade your car in for something much more fuel efficient, you'd still be suffering financially. Driving a Citroen C2 brings the average cost down to £3,745.60 a year, or 24p a mile - still 50% more expensive than taking the train.
The only way in which driving beats the train is if you trade down and car share - which sounds particularly uncomfortable.
Car ownersSo should you leave the car in the garage and take the train in? Sadly, its not that simple.
If you have a car then you're already paying the maintenance, repayments, insurance, and tax, which has to be factored into the calculations. It means that if you drive a fuel-efficient car like the Citroen C2, you should drive anyway - as you'll save almost £700 a year overall. However, if you own something like a fuel-hungry BMW 5 series, you should leave it at home - because you'll save around £600 by commuting by train.
Not necessarily...Of course this study is handy, but it doesn't address all the factors that decide whether you take the car or the train. If you live miles from the station, don't work anywhere near a rail route, or work the kind of hours that don't suit public transport, then regardless of the maths you'll be in the car.
Likewise if you're commuting to central London, presumably the car parking bill and doubling or trebling the travel time to account for traffic would make a nonsense of the maths.
But what do you think? Are you wedded to a commute in the comfort of your own car, or do you swear by cheap public transport? Let us know in the comments.
The journeysChelmsford to London
By train is £3,540, by Ford Focus is £6,688, and by BMW 5 Series is £9,706
Preston to Manchester
By train is £2,600, by Ford Focus is £4,409 and by Citroen C2 is £3,391
Durham to Newcastle
By train is £1,148, by Ford Focus is £3,555 and by BMW 5 Series is £6,269
Bournemouth to Southampton
By train is £2,492, by Ford Focus is £1,885 and by Citroen C2 is £1,367
Derby to Birmingham
By train is £2,932, by Ford Focus is £2,816 and by Citroen C2 is £2,042
Swansea to Cardiff
By train is £1,560, by Ford Focus is £2,520 and by Citroen C2 is £1,827
Edinburgh to Glasgow
By train is £3,512, by Ford Focus is £5,209 and by BMW Five Series is £8,491
Weston-Super-Mare to Bristol
By train is £1,732, by Ford Focus is £3,893 and by BMW Five series is £6,723
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