What incentive is there to go by train?

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paulmch

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For me the motivation is mainly just that driving is pretty horrible a lot of the time - you've constantly got to be on guard for some idiot not following the rules, and even then you could get caught up in something through no fault of your own that either kills you or leaves you with life changing injuries. Clearly accidents do happen on trains too, but they're at nowhere near the level of cars.

I'm quite happy to let someone else do the hard work while I enjoy the view, have a cup of tea, watch a film or maybe even have a nap. Granted I don't travel in peaks very much, but when I do I'd still rather be blasting past the stationary M6 at 90mph in a packed 2-car XC 170 knowing that it'll thin out after a few stops and I can grab a seat.

As for delays, they're not as common as people think with the notable exception of some trouble spots in the North. I've done 37 hours of travel by rail over 52 journeys this year, and only had 43 minutes of delay in all that time. Eighteen minutes of that was a trespass on the ECML and the rest were just a few minutes here and there - I really doubt that if I'd made all of those journeys by car I would have arrived with the same accuracy.
 
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Camden

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Many people, commuters or leisure-travellers, find the railway unreliable, uncomfortable, expensive, slow, plagued by delays and cancellations, and overall just an unpleasant experience. What is the incentive to travel by rail?
Assuming you're talking about railways on a non diseasey, non industrial-actiony, normal day, I would suggest that the opinion given isn't shared by "many" in the way implied, but only "some".

Generally speaking, when not being ruined by the above, and away from isolated pockets of incompetence (the Northern/tpe timetable fiasco) the railway is reliable and mostly comfortable.

Driving is hardly a pleasure these days, plus parking costs and the other costly hassles of owning a car. Having to leave the house an hour early to nullify the effects of traffic jams is no picnic.

For leisure, on a train, you get to sit back and while away some time until you arrive. Typically you arrive in the heart of where you need to be without needing to navigate a strange city's road network. The UK's train network is frequent throughout too, so you can easily cover long distances that would be foreboding by road.

Adjusting the question has more value, IMO. Rail has the inbuilt potential to be the preferred choice of most: what can be done to make sure it is as enjoyable an experience as it can be?
 

cactustwirly

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The car is often cheaper, faster and more convenient unless you're travelling by yourself on a direct train.
For my commute to work it's a 17 minute car journey, or well over an hour by public transport involving 2 trains and a bus, for an 8 mile journey!
It's £10 each day using public transport or £3.50 in the car at current petrol prices.
 

johntea

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I tried driving when I was 17 and despite a fantastic mock test literally an hour prior to the actual test I made a complete pigs ear of the actual test, so much so the examiner ended up having to stop the test and make my instructor walk back to the car as I was considered too unsafe to continue!

Tried lessons again when I was 27 and just hated it full stop so gave it up as a bad job, just felt like I was getting absolutely nowhere and was sending my anxiety sky high each week when it came to lesson time let alone the thought of actually passing the test and having to drive around on my own!
 

Bald Rick

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Many people, commuters or leisure-travellers, find the railway unreliable, uncomfortable, expensive, slow, plagued by delays and cancellations, and overall just an unpleasant experience. What is the incentive to travel by rail?

Because many people find it more reliable, comfortable, cheaper, quicker, less stressful and an overall more pleasant experience than the alternative.

I’d have thought that was obvious. It’s a free country.
 
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Islineclear3_1

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Every incentive. You make of it as you wish. Horses for courses and all that.

Rather somebody else is driving at silly o'clock in the morning or late evening when I've just woken up or done a day's work. Nothing worse than having to stay awake to drive the car
 

urbophile

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In pre- (and hopefully post-) Covid times I use Merseyrail frequently. Just over 15 minutes from my front door to the city centre. And free since I possess an ancient person's pass. Long distance journeys are usually to London which would be nonsensical other than by train. But I am aware that many peoples' circumstances and geography mean that train travel isn't a convenient option.

I hate driving but even if I didn't there are many reasons not to. And talking about delays, and I know this is not typical and I'm probably just unlucky, of the last half-dozen motorway journeys I have done three of them have involved long (2 hour +) delays as a result of accidents. Just because you think you have more control of your journey behind the wheel, doesn't make it true.
 

Jamesrob637

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Depends on the circumstances.

If I want to get to Leeds on a weekend it's a 44 minute round trip on the train and a £6.20 return ticket.
In the car it's a two to three hour round trip and £15+ in petrol and parking charges.

If I worked in Leeds a season ticket would be £1,104 and, again, a 44 minute round commute each day. That's £4.80 return each day assuming a 46 weeks working five days per week, and I'd have any travel I want on a weekend too at no further cost.
In the car it would be a good two to four hours round trip per day (depending on traffic), at least £2,400 a year in petrol and I dread to think how much in parking.

When I walked up Pen-y-Ghent last year I took the train to Horton-in-Ribblesdale. The cost of the ticket was about the same as the petrol and parking would have been in the car and the journey time about the same, so I took the train.

On the other hand...

If I fancy a break in Cornwall the rail fare is eyewateringly expensive compared with the petrol cost of going by car and the journey time is about comparable. Also, the cost by rail is multiplied by the number of passengers whereas the increase in fuel consumption in the car caused by adding the weight of more passengers is negligible. I'd still prefer to go by train though as a particularly love the portion of the journey from Exeter to Penzance. I might not have the choice though!

I know that railway bashing is pretty much a national sport in the UK but, ultimately, it's horses for courses and making a choice on its own merits.

I'm sure there's a thread in the Fares section about how expensive the rail tickets to the South West are. In contrast, Manchester and Leeds to London are often dirt cheap. I drove to and from Plymouth plus some driving within Devon last month for barely a tank and a half, around £80 at current prices.

£15 in petrol and parking (I know how far Bingley is from Leeds) makes parking in Leeds expensive unless you have a V8 petrol.
 

mmh

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I commuted into London by train for 20+ years. It would've been madness to do it any other way. I'd love to go back to commuting by train, but for me now it's expensive and has a rubbish timetable, so I'll be driving for speed and convenience and using the bus when I want to go to the pub after work. The cost of car insurance and depreciation (hah, it's a 17 year old car, it doesn't do that any more) are irrelevant, that's happening whether or not it's used.
 

PeterC

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When travelling into London train is definitely cheaper and more convenient.

For any other journey there is no incentive at all. Most long distance train journeys that I would make involve doubling back through central London and I can be on the motorway quicker than that before even thinking about the cost.
 

DarloRich

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Many people, commuters or leisure-travellers, find the railway unreliable, uncomfortable, expensive, slow, plagued by delays and cancellations, and overall just an unpleasant experience. What is the incentive to travel by rail?

Not what most people get though, is it?


Whats your view then? You say most people. What do you think and why?
 

broadgage

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I used to enjoy train travel, but now it is to be endured rather than enjoyed.
Several posts refer to the availability of food and drink from the buffet. Not any more on GWR, sometimes a trolley if you are lucky.
Add to that the train length lottery and risk of standing when a 5 car turns up. Booking does not help as bookings are voided on half length trains.
Hard seats. Few tables, and yes I know that IETs have more tables than an HST downgraded to high density commuter layout. I can remember when HSTs had 16 tables per coach, and when loco hauled coaches had almost all table seating.
 

trebor79

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Many people, commuters or leisure-travellers, find the railway unreliable, uncomfortable, expensive, slow, plagued by delays and cancellations, and overall just an unpleasant experience. What is the incentive to travel by rail?
I don't find it any of those things, other than sometimes it's relatively expensive (but not always).
I think I encounter far more delay and disruption driving than I do travelling by train.
On the train I can work, read the paper, enjoy the scenery, talk to fellow passengers, go for a wee and have a bite to eat and a cup of tea exactly when I want one.
For anything much over an hour, I'll take the train every time. Sometimes I'll take the 20 minute train to Norwich because I can park for nothing at the station rather than pay the rip off parking charges in Norwich.
 

cambsy

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I drive for my job as living, am taxi driver, i take taxi home, so no commute to work And where I live train not an option for work based travel, I dont enjoy driving for living, its stressful. Tiring, always someone doing something have to react to, too many idiots on the road, dawdling about. For leisure I enjoy train and coach travel, like any travel when not having to drive, though prefer train, as quicker, more space , and been my main hobby, for as long as can remember, Its my main way like to relax on days off from work, so no need for incentive to use the train, though a cheap First Class advance is always nice so get food and more comfort(food pre Covid).
 

Stampy

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Watch this from 12:18:


It has happened.....

Fell asleep on a train back from Manchester coming back to Peterborough - and woke up just as the train was about to pull into Ely...
Luckily there was a late-running train that would get me back home!!!

Hence why I try to "nap" on the way TO games.!!!
 

Hadders

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It's horses for courses.

If I'm going to central London I'll catch the train, cheaper and quicker than driving. It's a journey I've done thousands of time and from where I live the journey is frequent, fast and reasonably priced. I travel elsewhere by train if it's competitive on time and works for whatever it is I'm doing at my destination.

I also drive a lot, often on business, depending on exactly where I'm going it's often the most appropriate way to travel.

Occasionally I'll fly, examples include day trips to Glasgow and Belfast for business. Means I can get there and back in the day, and is normally cheaper than the train (and always is when factoring in the cost of an overnight stay)
 

DieselDaz

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Currently there is no incentive to use the train, case in point myself and my father need to travel from Newcastle Central to Droitwich Spa. For a standard ticket one way for the two us comes to just under £645 which is beyond extortion.
 

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trebor79

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Currently there is no incentive to use the train, case in point myself and my father need to travel from Newcastle Central to Droitwich Spa. For a standard ticket one way for the two us comes to just under £645 which is beyond extortion.
That's the first class fare. Standard class is £145.90 each.
Still very expensive mind!
 

ForTheLoveOf

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The standard fare is only showing for the later trains which is no good for us.
CrossCountry are playing silly b*****s by claiming that the 10:35 etc. train cannot be travelled on using a standard class ticket, because all of the available socially distanced seat reservations have already been issued.
 

ForTheLoveOf

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I am normally predisposed to travel by train. Within in the UK it's often a lot less aggravation and stress than driving (certainly for many of the journeys I frequently make), and I know what ticket(s) to buy to make it comparable in price to driving.

I certainly wouldn't have ever considered driving to the likes of Wick, Kyle of Lochalsh or Mallaig, if nothing else because the train journeys themselves are part of the experience - to say nothing of the monotonous and tiring journey there by car.

That being said, there isn't a viable way for me to get to work using public transport based on where I live; driving is only remotely sensible way. So it's not really a question of choice!

There isn't really anywhere else within my budget that I could live, where it'd be feasible to use public transport or walking/cycling to get to work, and that is also within reasonable reach of a decently served station. But I imagine that is a fairly uncommon situation.

If I were willing to give up being within reach of a station there would probably be a couple of alternatives, but being close to a station was a deal-breaker for me when deciding where to live.

If I worked in London, there's no way I'd choose anything other than the train (or the Tube at a push), unless I had the luck and means to live within walking/cycling distance of work!

Coming back to the original question, the biggest incentives to me of travelling by train are that it's generally a reliable, safe means of getting to most parts of the country, where I don't need to worry about driving, and I can relax, eat or even sleep whilst travelling. It's also generally OK on price given what I know, but for those without such knowledge the price alone would put many off. I wouldn't say there are many journeys I frequently make that are amazing value.
 

theironroad

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Currently there is no incentive to use the train, case in point myself and my father need to travel from Newcastle Central to Droitwich Spa. For a standard ticket one way for the two us comes to just under £645 which is beyond extortion.
That's the first class fare. Standard class is £145.90 each.
Still very expensive mind!
The standard fare is only showing for the later trains which is no good for us.
CrossCountry are playing silly b*****s by claiming that the 10:35 etc. train cannot be travelled on using a standard class ticket, because all of the available socially distanced seat reservations have already been issued.

Jeez, just when the railways (dft and tocs) seemed to have moved away from all this essential travel business and basically yelling at people not to use trains, they're going to try and price people off even more.

With people piling onto beaches, into bars and packing onto planes (including middle seats) I wonder what the railway industry's (especially maybe the likes of lner, Avanti, xc etc ) medium and long term plan is because right now they're running a pretty successful marketing campaign to discourage a lot of people from using trains for an awfully long time.
 

Uncle Buck

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It's rare in the UK. Despite the outlook of enthusiasts, most people here use trains either never or infrequently.

People for whom it does work out almost always fall into one of two categories:

- Commuters within London and the South East, whose road journeys would have been appalling

- Long distance passengers travelling on a direct intercity train between major railheads, with a car journey and station car park at one end and often a taxi at the other. Principally this is wealthy people

Commuting into other cities makes up a remarkably small proportion because they have such a low market share, rural journeys or journeys between towns on trains barely register. So to sum up the question: not actually much.

Your comment touches on a very important point. Trains are a very pleasant way of getting into city centres- rather than crawl through endless lights you can relax and listen to music. They are also a nice way to get between the centres of different cities- you sit back and watch the scenery and can read a book- way better and safer than dodging lorries on the M6. The problem is they are hopeless if you need to go anywhere else.

I used to work in the suburbs of Glasgow- not exactly a remote place, and a city with one of the better urban rail networks- but I and almost all of my colleagues drove because even for those of us who lived quite nearby our journey would have required us to traipse into the city centre then back out, adding hours to our day, with no guarantee of trains turning up. (London’s Overground is an honourable exception). For people in rural areas the problem must be the same but worse. The same problem is repeated on a larger scale in the fact that so many cross-country journeys require the traveller to change trains multiple times in a handful of hubs like London, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh when a car can follow a more direct path.

There are a few other factors which deter people from using trains. First, unreliability of connecting trains (seeking to get the train from Glasgow to Gatwick, I saw there was a 33-minute changeover at Wolverhampton, which I simply didn’t feel I could rely on, so I flew). Second, while a commuter with a season ticket is saving money, for the irregular user the outlay feels high- usually, with two people in the car, fuel is cheaper than two tickets. Third, the state of a lot of trains is really poor- a Pendolino or HST might be nice but is a Sprinter with a rattling engine, ripped seats and graffiti on the walls really any better than a bus, coach or car?

So if I was going into a city centre I would take the train, for peripheral or rural areas you pretty much have to drive.
 

infobleep

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I don't own a car and never passed my test on my two attempts years ago.

Thus I use the train or bus for all travel, save when someone else is driving.

Now if I wish to travel away for a weekend up north, with maybe two other people in the car and the car is hired for the weekend, I strong suspect that will be cheaper than the train, unless you get advanced purchase tickers when they first come out. The car also allows one to travel where the trains and buses don't go.

There is two together but you have to start from the same station and if their are three of you one isn't together. Not everyone is a couple and not all people live in the same town. Groupsave also gives a discount but again if not in the same town.....

If commuting to an office daily and it's on a train or bus route and no car needed, then I would say the public transport would be cheaper than a car.

If anyone thinks I'm wrong then do reply.
 

Metal_gee_man

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I travel across the UK for work, I generally get told 3 or 4 days before where and when and how long, I get 45p a mile if I drive upto 10,000 miles and 25p a mile after that in my private car, I make on 45p a mile I break even at 25p and potentially make a loss with maintenance and depreciation.
If the office, public transport and hotel are kind I will choose the train, if there is an infrequent service, the train takes hours longer than driving or the hotels need a car I obviously drive.
I clocked up 9,500 miles for business last year with 1.5 months off for covid.
I spent the best part of £4k on train tickets (loads of split tickets, advances & railcard use)
I get work done on the train, I could get some kip, catch up in the weeks recordings from Sky, eat a meal etc...
It saves the company money so they like me travelling by train and being a railway fan I don't mind it.
But there are exceptions, peak travel, delays and poor weather that make the car look very favourable
 

GW43125

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It depends on your priorities.

For me it's about comfort and the ability to not have to constantly focus on what's going on around you.

Driving down to Brighton or Margate is quicker (train takes twice the time!) and fuel costs are roughly similar (maybe slightly less) but sitting in the car park at Clacket Lane chugging tea as you try not to fall asleep from your walk and drive both ways makes you realise how helpful it is to just be able to get on the train and have a nap or just look out the window and listen to music etc.

Similarly, I can take my laptop and get some work done (a fair chunk of my last lab report was written between London and Taunton).

Simply, driving is tiring and I'd rather take the train when I can, even if it takes longer.
 

ohgoditsjames

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I can get to the centre of Leeds in 11 minutes from here in Shipley via train which would take half an hour or more to drive, plus the time it takes to find a parking spot and saving parking money too.
 

Jozhua

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  • Doesn't require a drivers license or car, positive for the young, those who cannot afford it, elderly or visually impaired.
  • Cheaper than owning a car (mostly)
  • Longer distance journeys can be done faster and more reliably (no traffic, mostly)
  • You can work, drink or eat on the train.
  • Can be more comfortable if you don't want to spend hours concentrating on driving, the train also has refreshments and toilets.
  • Trains can be seen as a bit more "reliable" than the bus, and are often quicker.
  • I am less susceptible to travel sickness on trains.
  • Greener, yes even the diesel ones.
  • No need to park!
  • Safer in respect to less risk of accidents.

Things that might discourage people are:

Longer journey times in some cases, often for rural routes or less travelled routes.

Prices can be quite high, more than buses/coaches.

Overcrowding, making journeys take longer if you can't fit on and more uncomfortable.

Delays, especially if these happen with frequency and information is poor.

"Last mile" issues, where travelling to the desired final destination in a local area may add a deal-breaking amount to journey times.

Poor-condition rolling stock and stations, especially if they look untidy or unsafe.

Concerns about safety, personal or public from "terror" events.

Poor provision of space for cycles or luggage.

Confusing ticketing systems, poor information and limited maps or route awareness.

Miss Corona (hopefully temporary, but could cause a longer term shift in attitudes.)
 

The Ham

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The car is often cheaper, faster and more convenient unless you're travelling by yourself on a direct train.
For my commute to work it's a 17 minute car journey, or well over an hour by public transport involving 2 trains and a bus, for an 8 mile journey!
It's £10 each day using public transport or £3.50 in the car at current petrol prices.

That assumes that you need a car for other purposes. As the average car costs over £3,000/year all in.

Whilst it's possible to get this lower there's going to be few that can get it below £1,000.

Anyway for 8 miles each way you'd be better buying an e-bike and it taking you about 40 minutes if you let it do all the work. Alternatively using one train and cycling the difference, which would likely reduce the journey time to sub 30 minutes. Whilst it's still longer you'd be able to have a nice chunk of exercise on the way home without needing to go elsewhere.

With short distances and a change of train and/or the need for a bus public transport is always going to work out badly time wise.

Of course changing to working from home, even one day a week, is likely to change the maths. As the car wouldn't cost much less per year (mostly just fuel costs), but with rail you only pay for what you use.

Although season tickets work out less good value the fewer days you travel if you work Tue-Fri one week and Mon-Thurs the next you could still benefit from a weekly ticket.

For those who still need a car there's still many households where they could, for a lot less money, cope with just one car and use rail occasional with much more walking and cycling.
 
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