Alternatives to travelling by train

Train prices compared with driving costs

At the start of this year (2018) the rail networks made their annual price increases of over 3%.

Outcry could be heard across social media and the newspapers but unfortunately it didn’t stop any increase since 2011 (over 25% in total).

Is car finance cheaper?

Is car finance cheaper than getting the train?

When the price increase was announced we investigated the true costs of train versus car.

All comparisons are made with our representative APR and the cheapest possible rail travel to get a more balanced look. See what we found out below.

15 ways to keep the cost of driving down. Read more

Nottingham to London

Nottingham to Paddington - train versus driving costs

Where better to start that from our head office? We’re based in Nottingham, near where the HS2 is to be built, which will provide a faster route to the capital.


A next day ticket would cost you £70 or you could get a yearly season pass for £10,260. Over three years this is an outlay of £30,780.


One of our most popular cars is the Vauxhall Astra so we used this for comparison. The vehicle we chose was £4,000 on Autotrader and with a representative APR of 38.9%.

Finance, petrol, tax and insurance would cost £10,145.48 per year or £30,436 over three years.


Finance with First Response would save you £115 per year.

Transport Car Rail
Type Vauxhall Astra National Rail
Next Day Cost £41 £70
1 Year Cost £10,145 £10,260
3 Year Cost £30,436 £30,780 

30% of UK drivers would fail their test. Read more

Reading to Paddington

Driving London to Reading vs. train


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 alternative route.

A next day return ticket from Reading to Paddington will cost you £47.70 or you could purchase a yearly travel card for £5,300; that’s £15,900 for three years.


We kept all of the same information with petrol priced at £1.25 per litre.

In total the car would cost £5,362.98 per year including petrol, insurance and finance. That’s £16,089 for the three years.


Car finance is £189 more expensive over 3 years.

Transport Car Rail
Type Vauxhall Astra National Rail
Next Day Cost £21 £45
1 Year Cost £5,363 £5,300
3 Year Cost £16,089 £15,900

Other considerations

It’s clear that the results are inconclusive. Depending on the route you take will depend on how much you could save through either route.

Of course there are other factors to consider too such as:

  • Costs of getting to/from the station
  • Car parking charges
  • Depreciation
  • Comfort
  • Arriving on time (cancellations or traffic)

Of course there are positives and negatives for each way of travelling and the price difference will vary depending on your route.

All finance quotes were made using our online calculator.

More about Car Finance

Data from:

All train data was taken from National Rail on 16/01/18 for travel on 17/01/18 during peak times.

Autotrader data collected 16/01/18 and based on the average of 21 vehicle prices by trade sellers

Insurance data from Compare the Market, collected 16/01/18 and based on the average of the first 21 quotes. Data searched was 38 years old (the average age of our customers), non-homeowner with fully comprehensive insurance based in the Nottingham NG9 area.

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