Londoners pay more than rest of UK population for train travel to main cities

Leicester second highest in ‘price-per-mile’ study, with Glasgow and Edinburgh benefitting from cheapest train travel

Train journeys starting from London to the main cities in the country are more expensive per mile than those starting elsewhere in the UK according to a comprehensive new study. Single ‘anytime’ journeys to all the other 15 highest populated cities in the UK starting from the capital cost 56p per mile, on average, with journeys starting from Glasgow working out 41% cheaper on average, at 33p per mile.

In addition to supporting far higher living costs and property prices than the rest of the UK, Londoners also face the highest prices when wishing to visit other parts of the country. The second most expensive place to travel from in the UK is Leicester, with journeys commencing from there working out at 53p per mile, whilst nearby Nottingham is the third most expensive place to start your train travel from, at 52p per mile.

Although travellers using trains from Glasgow and Edinburgh to the other cities in the UK top 15 face longer journeys and therefore high overall costs, they benefit from cheaper travel per mile than other cities. Glasgow’s 33p per mile cost is quite a bit cheaper than Edinburgh’s at 41p per mile, a 19% difference, but any logic associated with subsidising distance of travel in the pricing seems to be discarded with journeys from Birmingham being third cheapest in the study at 42p per mile, despite the West Midlands city’s central location.

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Starting City Total distance to other cities (Miles) Total cost to other cities Price of travel per mile
London 2754.8 £1,547.50 56p
Leicester 1687.6 £895.70 53p
Nottingham 1572.6 £812.90 52p
Wakefield 1604.9 £797.40 50p
Bradford 1688.1 £800.80 47p
Coventry 1692.4 £794.20 47p
Leeds 1655.3 £775.80 47p
Bristol 2488.6 £1,153.40 46p
Sheffield 1575.7 £708.30 45p
Manchester 1618.3 £725.70 45p
Cardiff 2795.5 £1,225.80 44p
Liverpool 1841.2 £793.50 43p
Birmingham 1664.1 £705.50 42p
Edinburgh 3761.7 £1,551.30 41p
Glasgow 3752.8 £1,230.80 33p

The Voucherbox-commissioned study analysed cheapest single anytime train ticket prices for next day travel available through, with the figures including fares from every major UK operator, such as Virgin Trains, CrossCountry and East Midlands.

Single anytime journeys to all other cities in the top 15 starting from London would see train users covering a total distance of 2754.8 miles at a total cost of £1547.50, whilst for the second most expensive city in the study – Leicester – those figures work out at 1687.6 miles and £895.70.

At the other end of the scale the distance by rail to every other major city in the UK from Glasgow is 3752.8 miles at a total cost of £1230.80, compared with Edinburgh’s 3761.7 miles (the highest total distance in the study) and a total cost of £1551.30.

The study also highlights a similarly illogical pattern to the cheapest and most expensive journeys per mile per city. The cheapest journey per mile overall is from Birmingham to Coventry at £3.60 for a 23 mile trip, which works out at 16p per mile, whereas an 89.6 mile journey from Birmingham to Bristol costs £53.30, which equates to 59p per mile, a 269% increase in the price per mile.

Starting City Cheapest Journey Per Mile (Destination) Distance of Cheapest Journey (Miles) Overall Price of Cheapest Journey Cheapest Journey Per Mile
Birmingham Coventry 23 £3.60 16p
Coventry Birmingham 20.9 £3.60 17p
Bradford Wakefield 19.3 £3.90 20p
Glasgow Leeds 221 £44.30 20p
Wakefield Bradford 19.3 £4.10 21p
Liverpool Sheffield 102 £25.70 25p
Cardiff Leeds / Bradford 227 / 230 £58.80 / £59.70 26p
Leeds Cardiff 228 £58.80 26p
Sheffield Bradford 44 £11.60 26p
Bristol Cardiff / Manchester 42.7 / 168 £12.30 / £48.10 29p
Edinburgh Glasgow 46.7 £13.50 29p
Manchester London 209 £164.50 29p
London Edinburgh 414 £140.50 34p
Nottingham Sheffield 37.7 £13.20 35p
Leicester Birmingham / Glasgow 44.7 / 310 £17.50 / £120.00 39p

The most expensive route in the study (per mile) was from Bristol to London at 83p per mile, with a total cost of £98.50 for the 118 mile trip.

Starting City Most Expensive Journey Per Mile (Destination) Distance of Most Expensive Journey (Miles) Overall Price of Most Expensive Journey Most Expensive Journey Price Per Mile
Bristol London 118 £98.50 83p
London Bristol 120 £98.50 82p
Manchester Edinburgh 230 £65.90 79p
Leicester London 103 £79.50 77p
Cardiff London 151 £109.00 72p
Bradford Leicester 105 £73.50 70p
Liverpool London 221 £154.50 70p
Coventry London 108 £74.00 69p
Leeds Nottingham / Leicester 72.3 / 97.8 £44.30 / £60.10 61p
Wakefield London 185 £112.00 61p
Birmingham Bristol 89.6 £53.30 59p
Nottingham Birmingham 52.2 £65.50 57p
Sheffield Leicester 70 £37.00 53p
Edinburgh Bradford 205 £101.50 50p
Glasgow Wakefield 228 £104.00 46p

Shane Forster, Country Manager from commented, “We are surprised by the large price per mile differences which clearly show that travellers from certain cities are paying a great deal more for trips that are the same distance – this could be due to demand, changing operators mid journey and number of stops per journey, among other things. Overall the findings highlight something of a pricing postcode lottery for the UK’s train users. We studied ‘anytime’ prices specifically because we know they can be expensive and they are relevant to many people traveling by train who have to make last minute decisions to travel or have to re-arrange journeys if they’ve missed a previously booked train.”

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents Network Rail and train operators, said: “Only a small fraction of passengers travelling long distances buy the most expensive walk up anytime fares. Rail journeys have doubled in 20 years as passengers have been attracted by a range of good value fares, with sales of discounted tickets increasing by a quarter in just eight years.”