Some train fares cost more than the fuel for driving the same journey, it was claimed today.
Rail journeys such as Edinburgh-London offer “scant value for money” compared to the petrol or diesel cost of travelling by car, according to a motor insurer.
Kwik Fit Insurance Services said “off-peak open return” tickets on dozens of routes were higher than the fuel used by driving instead.
However, it also found rail was faster than road on nearly all those trips. Kwik Fit said that such a fare between Edinburgh and London had one of the greatest cost differences with fuel – an extra £149.77.
It costs £211.10 compared to £61.33 in for a hatchback car making the journey.
The train is two hours 45 minutes faster in each direction.
A rail industry source dismissed the survey as “pretty spurious” since it did not cover a car’s full running costs – including insurance – and cheaper fares were available.
Kwik Fit spokeswoman admitted: “We have only focused on fuel costs, but, yes, other factors would contribute. However, they aren’t included in our total figure.”
Kwik Fit Insurance Services marketing director Stewart Barnet said: “While environmental impacts should always be considered, some of the huge differences in cost and the value for money you get for saving short amounts of time means that it is difficult to argue the case for train travel on some journeys.
“When you think about car sharing and family trips, the savings can be even more substantial as people aren’t paying out for a seat per person.”
David Sidebottom, passenger director at watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Britain’s rail passengers pay some of the highest fares. Our most recent passenger survey showed just 31 per cent of commuters felt they had got value for money on their ticket.
“Long-distance trains can be cheaper, but only if you buy the lowest-priced Advance ticket on a fixed-time train.”
A ScotRail spokesman said: ‘We believe a decade of passenger growth, along with our recent launches of £5 fares on our longest routes, shows that customers feel we offer good value journeys.”
A spokesman for Virgin Trains on its east coast route, which includes Edinburgh-London, said: “We’re committed to offering our customers value for money.
“There are lots of great reasons for travelling by train instead of by car, including having far more comfortable, productive, quicker and enjoyable journeys.”