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Rising rail fares cause Bank Holiday blues

24th August 2011 Print

Tourism in Britain could be at risk from escalating rail fares, as research reveals that 78 per cent of people think that UK rail fares for journeys of over 100 miles are too expensive, with 66 per cent put off going on short breaks in the UK because of this high cost.

The research, commissioned by BlablaCar a site that joins drivers and passengers together to share car journeys, also found that 72 percent would go on more weekend breaks in the UK if the cost of travel was lower.

Nicolas Brusson, co-founder of BlablaCar, said: “The high cost of rail travel means that people are thinking twice before taking short breaks in the UK. With fares set to rise significantly, this is predicted to have an even bigger effect on UK tourism in the next year."

Brusson continued: “Reliability is another factor affecting people. As two thirds of train operators will be altering services this weekend, those planning to travel who have not yet booked their tickets would be wise to consider other means of transport. Social carpooling sites, where people drive together and share the cost of the trip, are an efficient and cost effective way of travelling”.

To demonstrate the significant discount offered by long distance carpooling over rail travel, particularly when not pre-booked, BlablaCar has compared Friday train prices on popular weekend routes and found that prices offered or recommended on its site work out on average 63 per cent cheaper than those offered by train operators.

BlablaCar reviewed the cheapest train tickets on a number of intercity routes leaving on a Friday between 6pm and 9pm and compared this with the average price on its site. The test was performed on the Tuesday afternoon prior to the Friday of travel to simulate the behaviour of someone looking for a ticket at the last minute.

Full results can be viewed in the table below. Savings include:

Travelling from London to Sheffield gives the greatest percentage saving, being 79 per cent cheaper carpooling with BlablaCar (£15 compared with £71)

Travellers heading from Birmingham to Edinburgh save 67% of the cost (£26 compared with £80) and are scheduled to arrive almost an hour ahead of the train

Those in a hurry travelling from Glasgow to Leeds would be advised to consider long distance carpooling. Passengers save 44 per cent of the cost (£19 compared to £35) and get there one hour 25 minutes ahead of those taking the train

Taking a route from Birmingham to Southampton is 75 per cent cheaper carpooling with BlablaCar and is no slower (£13 compared to £52)

Brusson also noted that “Petrol prices are also having an impact on our purse strings. It is becoming more and more necessary for people to consider alternative, more cost efficient, ways of reducing their travel costs.”