Air cheaper than rail on most popular long-distance routes

UK’s rail fares are far more expensive than air tickets, with travellers paying up to three times more to travel around Britain on trains than planes, according to research.

According to separate surveys by The Sun on Sunday and the MailOnline, advance airfares on Easyjet are cheaper than train prices on nine out of ten of the most popular long-distance routes between major cities, the only exception being London to Manchester.

Flying with EasyJet from Glasgow to Bristol on September 23 and returning one week later will cost £53, while the cheapest train ticket costs as much as £141. And for Bristol to Edinburgh and back on the same dates, an EasyJet flight currently costs just £62, compared to £149 for a return train ticket with CrossCountry. On the Bristol to Newcastle route, EasyJet flights costs £43 while rail charges are £124. The gap is much smaller for most other routes, although an exception is seen when travelling from London to Manchester, which is GBP26 on Virgin Trains but £111 by plane with Virgin Atlantic.

The routes with similar train and plane prices were London to Edinburgh, London to Inverness, London to Glasgow, Birmingham to Edinburgh, Birmingham to Glasgow and London to Paris.

The research comes as UK rail ticket prices are set to increase by up to £200 for an annual season ticket. It was announced last week that fares would rise by an average of 4.1 percent in January, far higher than any pay rise that the majority of workers can expect.

Over the past decade, the cost of many annual season tickets for workers who commute into London has risen by more than 50 percent.

Skyscanner spokesman, Mary Porter, told The Sun on Sunday: ‘Our research shows that more often than not, it’s cheaper to take a domestic flight than a train. There is now more competition in the skies, particularly with the recent launch of Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red, which is operating several domestic routes. More competition usually means better prices for flights.’