Alternatives to travelling by train

Train prices compared with driving costs

At the start of this year the rail networks made their annual price increases taking the overall price increase to 25% in 5 years*. We found the statistics to be interesting and thought we'd do some investigation to see how the prices compared with driving. All comparisons are made with our highest APR vehicle finance and the cheapest possible rail travel (with a yearly season ticket) to get a more balanced look. You can read what our social team found below.

Reading to Paddington

London to Reading - Train versus Car

According to the BBC, Reading to London Paddington is the third most congested rail route in the UK (airport routes took the top spots) and we thought it would be the perfect place to start with a comparison. A next day return ticket from Reading to Paddington will cost you £44.70 or you could purchase a yearly travel card for £4,228; that’s £12,684 for three years.

In April 2015 we found that the most popular car on finance with First Response was the Vauxhall Astra so it made sense to us to use this as a comparison for rail prices. We did a quick search on Autotrader and found that the average price of an Astra that was within our criteria was £3,811.29. If you use our highest sub-prime representative APR of 42.9% (for people who may have bad credit histories) you’re looking at an average total price of £6,835.19 for the car over three years, including all fees and interest.

The cost of fully comprehensive insurance on a Vauxhall Astra is an average of £1,613.46 per year with tax at £180.

Petrol prices are at the lowest they have been for six years** which means that a full year of commuting will cost you £2,390 in total.

In total, commuting from Reading to London Paddington with a car on finance would cost you £3,672.88 per year or £11,018.65 for three years including tax, insurance, petrol and APR costs. That’s £1,665.35 cheaper than rail over three years.

Nottingham to London

Nottingham to London - Rail versus Car

We didn’t want to put all of our eggs in one basket and use one of the most congested journeys so we decided to keep it close to home. Our offices are based in NG9, just round the corner from where the proposed HS2 rail will be built, so we looked at those who would commute from Nottingham to the country’s capital.

Keeping all the same information about our vehicle we found that a yearly cost would be £5,537.88 with a next day return rail ticket costing £131 from National Rail. Over three years train travel between Nottingham and London will cost you £30,144 versus £16,613.65 with a vehicle financed with First Response. That’s £13,530.35 cheaper over three years!

Reading to London Paddington

Nottingham to London train ticket example

Transport Car Rail
Type Vauxhall Astra National Rail
Next Day Cost £14.69 £44.70
1 Year Cost £3,672.88 £4,228.00
3 Year Cost £11,018.65 £12,684.00

Nottingham to London

Nottingham to London train ticket example

Transport Car Rail
Type Vauxhall Astra National Rail
Next Day Cost £31.90 £131.00
1 Year Cost £5,537.88 £10,048.00
3 Year Cost £16,613.65 £30,144.00

Of course there are positives and negatives for each way of travelling and the price difference will vary depending on your route. We have picked two routes to try and give an unbiased look: one that’s local to our offices and one of the most congested routes in the UK. It is important to think of other things which would affect each journey such as travel time, time of day, personal space or being able to sit back and get some shut eye when comparing journeys.

In order to give some transparency we would like to note that we haven't taken into account congestion charges or parking for our driving figures and we haven't taken into account tube or other transport prices in order to get to/from each train station. If you want to learn more about our finance products you can click the button below.

More about Hire Purchase

Data from:


All train data was taken from National Rail on 05/01/16 for travel on 06/01/16 during peak times.

Autotrader data collected 05/01/16 and based on the average of 21 vehicle prices by trade sellers

Insurance data from Compare the Market, collected 05/01/16 and based on the average of the first 21 quotes. Data searched was 38 years old (the average age of our customers in 2015), non-homeowner with fully comprehensive insurance based in the Nottingham NG9 area.

APR information taken from the online calculator on using First Response Finance’s sub-prime representative APR of 42.9%.

Petrol price information collected from AA Route Finder on 05/01/16 based on a price of £1.02 per mile and for journeys ‘Nottingham to London’ and ‘Reading to London Paddington’.

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