Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I agree with trying to reduce the number of cars in a city is a great goal for congestion, safety and pollution.


Has anyone seen what it costs to get around on the tube? Or the ASTRONOMICAL costs of train tickets if you live just outside the capital?

It costs me £8 to park my electric car in London and perhaps 40-60 minutes to drive there. A train takes 30 minutes but costs almost £30 for a return ticket. How is that reasonable? That ticket for ‘public’ transport is a huge chunk of ones salary; and that’s not even adding the cost of the tube into the equation.

> Has anyone seen what it costs to get around on the tube?

I recently visited London for the first time in 10 years. Obviously it’s not the same as a visitor as it is as a resident, but the public transport and the tube in particular, was fantastic. It was easy, I could use PayWay, it adjusted my fees to a daily maximum and got me everywhere quickly (except for the outages on Sundays). It might be imperfect, but I’m envious.

Aren’t there far cheaper options for regular commuters? Here in Berlin, a single one-way ticket is €2.60, but a monthly is around €80. That’s less than a euro per ride for the average person that commutes by subway and uses it for some other trip every second day.

Trains are, unfortunately, rather expensive, at least compared to flying and to taking a car you already own. I believe fuel and vehicle taxes should increase to the point where they pay for most if not all of road construction costs. Contrary to popular opinion, large parts of those costs are currently financed from general taxation.

Because tracks and stations make up the bulk of the cost of train rides, increases in ridership have low marginal costs. Any move to get people to use trains would therefore tend to lower per-trip costs.

IIRC only about half of transport is for the purposes of commuting.

I wouldn't own a car if I only used it for commuting; that's the easy case because generally most people have the same job for months at a time.

By contrast I can't simply move back to my home town without giving up work; I can't live near all of my friends that moved around the country; I can't simultaneously live everywhere I visit.

So the fact that a single or return train ticket costs hundreds of pounds makes it completely infeasible really. Most people in the UK consider it an exciting treat, not a normal mode of transport, particularly families (sod paying for 4 tickets, one is already more than the car).

Having lived in Berlin and now living in London I asked the same.

The monthly ticket that is very common in Germany either doesn't exist here or is ridiculously expensive. Even if you go by tube on a daily basis you are better off paying for each trip.

That's not true - season tickets are definitely cheaper than pay as you go if you travel every day.

e.g. Annual Travelcards give you 12 months travel for the price of ten and a half.


Annual tickets are barely worth it if you just take the tube, not buses, and don't use it at weekends. Single fare prices were frozen by the mayor, but travelcards were not.

I commute Canning Town to Bank. Daily its £5.30. Weekly cap is £35.10 / Monthly £134.80 so you won't hit them on just commute.

In reality I have a railcard so its actually £4.50pd / even less likely to hit caps.

I commute into London from about 60 miles away. It costs me either ~450£pcm or ~4600£pa, depending on if I get the monthly or yearly season ticket, and the journey is 30 minutes (if I make it onto my regular train). My employer essentially loans me the money to by the annual season ticket, and it's deducted from my wages monthly (this is a pretty common system in London).

A standard peak time return for my train into London is about 22£, according to the National Rail season ticket calculator the average journey price on the annual ticket is only 9£, so a pretty reasonable saving if you're going every day.

This is without the tube ticket (which is an add-on option on regional trains going into London), so I spend about 75-100£pcm on that as well, with contactless payments.

There are weekly, monthly, annual season tickets but the discount is small.

I think for most people commuting into London daily the saving of an annual ticket would be the equivalent of one month, so 8% off. And that of course requires paying upfront... Which means several thousands of Pounds for many people. ~£500 a month for train commute into London + tube is not uncommon.

I agree.

I've always owned a car despite having lived in Z2 etc in London.

It is completely impractical to use trains for general transport unless you plan everything months in advance or you're not paying for it. The tube and NR within the Oyster zone are an exception - those are relatively cheap and work well.

Anywhere outside of the M25 is like going back to the dark ages.

Today is Friday. Let's say I decide to visit family because I'm free, a friend cancelled plans, whatever. This is not a cherry picked example; I'm typing this before I even look.

OK, I've just checked. An advance single to my hometown is between 80 and 100 GBP depending on time. That's not including travel on either side, just mainline to mainline. There are no changes required.

Most cars will do that journey for 20 GBP, in far more comfort, at any time I would like to leave (maximum traffic variation would be approx 1 hour in a 4 hour journey).

I've bought an electric vehicle because air pollution is a real problem.

But getting rid of cars? Intercity rail needs to be fixed first, and I mean really fixed - the prices need to come down by _at least_ a factor of 2.

I haven't even mentioned the fact that if you want to live within walking distance of a station that can commute into London, you've missed the window on ever owning a home that's not an absolute shoebox; so for most that actually want a real family home, a car is still the only option because living close to the tube needs inherited wealth, a 1% job, or doing it 20 years ago.

I live in zone 3/4 and getting around on the tube is not bad at all. There is a daily cost cap of around £8 depending on how far you go, but I usually don't hit it or get that close.

But regional trains I agree can be super expensive. So for those living outside the greater London area, that could indeed be rough.

It's not just those living outside London.

I live in London and travel outside of it because I know people living all over the country, I take weekend holidays to nature, etc.

Via rail if I did the same journeys I do in the car it could easily cost me 500-1000GBP a month. Non-advance tickets are basically priced at the "no, we don't want you to make that journey" level.

The cost of trains in the UK is ridiculous. My employer once paid £320 for a return ticket from Manchester to London.

I pay that fortnightly. Although I can usually get it for £220 with advance notice.

Mmm.. I just got a return ticket London Glasgow for something like 90£. How is it so much more expensive for Manchester (considering that my train went through Manchester and is much closer than Glasgow)?

Well, there are two reasons, I believe. One is the fact that the longer in advance you buy it, the cheaper it is and the second is that peak vs. off-peak times matter a lot.

If you buy one month in advance and at non-peak times (e.g. 12:00 on a Wednesday or similar), it will be around £30-40 probably.

I've done Edinburgh to London a few times, and it's been >£200 each time

You must be booking first class? Or at peak times?

It’s £150ish open return from Dundee to London via Edinburgh IIRC for standard class off peak.

Pretty much same price as Dundee to Edinburgh train > plane to stanstead > train into liverpool street.

Also takes about the same time..

Probably times - not booking first class. I'm travelling again in a few months, but flying, and my flights from Edi to London city are £70 return. My total journey time door to door will be 3:30 (as I happen to be heading to the right part of London for City airport to make sense) and my bus to/from the airport in Edinburgh will cost me £7.50.

I've just checked trainline and for the same dates, a train is 4hours 20, will cost £145 for "super off peak single" - and if I'm not careful booking it I'll be standing for that trip. In my case this time I'll also need to get another train from Liverpool St to east london, which is 2 more trains and an extra 30 minutes each way.

I'd much rather take the train, but the costs are often stacked against trains in favour of flying.

AU$400 per fortnight for train tickets! Astonishing.

No one one in fifty Briton's live in Australia.

Yep. Going to Cardiff from London is the absolute worst. I've had friends say they have paid (well, clients) ~£500 for first class returns. £121 for a standard anytime single. Almost guaranteed you won't get a seat for the first hour of the journey.

You can say "book it sooner" but it really doesn't make that much (if any) difference, booking the same ticket type (any time single) a month in advance is the same price. Imagine that, 2 hours and 15 minutes on a train for £121 (~150 USD) 50% of the time you will be standing because there aren't enough seats. Sorry to rant but the trains, and lack of cheaper reliable alternatives really gets me about this country.

Isn’t there an unlimited ticket for commuters?

Obviously I don't want you exact location and destination, but intrigued where you are travelling from and to at that price of train, and also at that swift time to get in (at rush hour?) and that you can consistently find parking 'in' London and at that cost (for how long?). I've never parked an electric car in central, but finding standard parking used to be hard. I generally go to Stratford now and park thee and get the train in (if I need to - I'd rather just get the train straight to Stratford or Liverpool Street Station)

I had a quick random check; for peak tickets, it's close to £30 from Reading and Guildford, and mid-£20s from St Albans and Stevenage.


Anyway, comparing train prices to an electric car probably isn't the model that the pricing is based on.

Many years ago, I actually complained to my MP that it was cheaper for one person to drive a not-cheap car (<30mpg) than take a pre-booked off-peak train. The response (from a researcher at the DoT) disagreed, and showed that after incorporating amortised insurance, road tax, depreciation, and maintenance cost, it was comparable. But of course this was for a single traveller; for two or more travellers in the same car, there was no additional cost.

Anyway, it's not surprising that partial costs of an electric car are far lower than taking the train.

Run for office on a platform to make train fares cheaper and you will probably win. The only other thing to factor in is car payment, insurance, tax/reg but you probably have a car anyway so that evens out in the end in my opinion. The only other factor would be less stress due to the fixed train commute vs car. But since trains are packed it sounds like prices are too low even though they are unreasonable... I guess an alternative would be flex time and work from home options so you don't have to commute in each day.

Isn't Corbyn planning to nationalise the rail service?

It's not just the high cost, but the absolutely baffling fare structures and restrictions on travel.

To go from London to Cheltenham in the afternoon you can pay anything from £21.50 to £50.10 depending on how far in advance you buy the ticket and what route you take (direct is cheaper than change at Bristol).

And then there's a mix of restrictions or no restrictions (and those aren't always tied to price, some expensive tickets will have restrictions).


Driving in central London is much more expensive than the tube given the congestion charge and the ultra low emission zone.

The congestion zone is quite small. It also only applies M-F 7am-6pm, and electric vehicles are completely exempt.

The ULEZ doesn't apply to most modern cars (a 15 year old petrol meets the bar); it primarily targets the cheat diesels.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact