An Un-Fare Deal: 10 UK Rail Fares That Are More Expensive Than a Flight to Europe


uk airfareRail prices have skyrocketed in the UK, rising by nearly £700 on average in the last seven years with a rise in January 2018 representing the biggest leap in prices in five years.

Particularly painful is the contrast with rail fares with Europe. Did you know that Germans can travel across the whole network (that’s over 27,000 miles) for less than £4k, while a season ticket from Peterborough to London (that’s 82 miles) alone costs £6.5k?

But it gets worse. Have you wondered how many international flights you could pay for with one train ticket?

A simple one-way journey from one part of the UK to another often costs over £100 by train. A trip from Cardiff to London can cost up to £117, whereas a flight from Cardiff to popular holiday destination, Malaga, Spain can be as little as £26.

This situation was highlighted when college student Joe Furness realised that instead of getting a train from Newcastle to London for £78.50, he could fly to London via the Spanish island of Menorca for just £26.98. He had a short visit to the beach as well as saved money.

You can also fly to four different places from Birmingham all for less than one single train journey to Newcastle. Flights to Lyon, Dublin, Barcelona and Sofia combined could cost just £89 compared to £114.60 for a train to the North East.

Birmingham to Newcastle is just 174 miles, meaning you’re paying 66p per mile. Birmingham to Sofia, Bulgaria, a journey of 1,347 miles, is only 2p per mile, at a ticket cost of £23.

So when you’re planning your next trip, why not be more creative and flexible with your search for transport and see how much fun you could have while saving money?

UK travel



We checked the prices of trains and flights from ten of the cities in the UK with the best transport links. We selected a variety of representative rail routes and took the ‘anytime’ one-way ticket price from each (prices correct as of July 2018), using


For comparison flight prices, we used to find routes from airports located in the ten chosen UK cities, searching for the cheapest international flights. Destinations were chosen by price and value but also to ensure they were familiar tourism and business destinations.


The total cost per mile for the European cities flights were calculated by dividing the total cost of all four flights by the total mileage to all four cities.


Distances were taken from and these were used to calculate the cost per miles for each journey.




See the research behind An un-FARE deal: 10 UK rail fares that are more expensive than a flight to Europe here

National Rail. (2018) National Rail Enquiries

Skyscanner. (2018) Skyscanner

Distance Calculator. (2018) Distance Calculator

Allegretti, A. (2018) An un-FARE deal: 10 UK rail fares that are more expensive than a flight to Europe

BBC News. (2017) Student travels from Newcastle to London via Menorca to save cash

The World Factbook. (2018) Country Comparison: Railways


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Barbara Davidson


Babs is a Senior Content Writer and financial guru. She loves exploring fresh ways to save more and enjoy life on a budget! When she’s not writing, you’ll find her binge-watching musicals, reading in the (sporadic) Chicago sunshine and discovering great new places to eat. Accio, tacos!