With all of the (justified) outrage over yet another upcoming increase in rail fares, it can be easy to overlook the bargains that are available if you travel off-peak and can commit to booking in advance. We recently walked the Yorkshire Wolds Way, the beautiful 79 mile National Trail that goes right through the heart of what has now become Hockney country. And then we added on a wonderful stretch of the Cleveland Way along the seacliffs from Filey (where the Yorkshire Wolds Way ends) to Scarborough. We did all this easily, quickly and cheaply, without using a car. How come?
We got to the start of the walk by taking the train(s) from Hove to Hull. To a hotel in Hull, the Mercure, actually on the station. Booking in advance, and with a 30% railcard discount, the tickets cost £2.65 from Hove to Victoria, and £6.65 from Kings Cross to Hull. Making a total of £9.30. Add a couple of quid on the Oyster card for the tube from Victoria to Kings Cross. Which comes to say £12 each, for a trip of 275 miles. Coming back from Scarborough to Hove cost a bit more, even on an advance ticket – £24.55 each, including the tube. But then, it is 313 miles, and it does include a blindingly fast train from York to Kings Cross – 188½ miles, non-stop in 1 hour 55 minutes, averaging nearly 100mph. Outbound and return, a total of 588 miles by train, at a cost of around £37 a head - compared to the HMRC rate of 45p a mile for owning and running a car, which comes out at £264.60.
But surely you pay the price for cheap fares by going slow? Not so. Coming back from Scarborough to our front door in Hove took a shade over 5 hours, including crossing London by tube, doing a quick shop at M&S on Victoria station, and taking a bus home from Brighton station. Google maps gives a timing by car from Scarborough to Hove of nearly 5 and a 1/2 hours, so train+tube+shopping+train+bus is quicker.
So not only do you save money and time going by train, you get to read your book or newspaper, watch a video, eat a sandwich, enjoy a drink, have a conversation, gaze out of the window, or go to sleep. You also don’t have to consider the best route from A to B, where your sat nav is going to take you, or what other drivers are up to. But even better than not having to drive it is that, when the train arrives you just walk away and leave it. No need to think about getting it serviced, taxed, insured, or refuelled. And best of all? Someone else takes care of the parking.