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Rent a car or take the train?

Singapore
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Rent a car or take the train?

Hi folks

Will prob be traveling to the UK in early Nov, and I have a multi-city itinerary as Mrs would like to visit friends. Likely cities to visit: Nottingham, Manchester, Plymouth, Newton Abbot, London for a few days before heading home.

I'm trying to estbalishwhether renting a car would be a better option than going by train, cost wise. I've checked some car rental websites and I can get a compact car for 6 days for less than GBP200 from Budget and Thrifty. OTOH, a casual enquiry on National Rail lists GBP53 as the cheapest pair of tix by train to Newton Abbot (using that as an example to get a gauge on costs).

A car offers great flexibility but I'm aware that petrol costs something like GBP1.35 per litre so a full tank would be in the region of 60-70 pounds sterling. Assuming 3 refills, the total cost of the car would be somewhere around GBP350 - 400.

But a train is more restrictive, and I'm not keen on lugging luggage from station to wherever. So I'm thinking I'll take the train only if the total cost of traveling by train are significantly cheaper.

Any thoughts/comments? Thanks.

U.S. expats
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1. Re: Rent a car or take the train?

You will also need to factor in parking, unless you'll be in a driveway at one of your many friends.

I am not familiar with all these towns, but many older towns so that parking becomes pricey and difficult.

I would advise you to return the car before you head to London--you really don't want to drive there.

Singapore
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2. Re: Rent a car or take the train?

Thank you Laura. I do no intend to drive in London.

Could anyone advise how much are car park charges typically, excluding London?

U.S. expats
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3. Re: Rent a car or take the train?

You should post in the city forums--you'll get the best info there.

Oxfordshire
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4. Re: Rent a car or take the train?

Practically no-one in Nottingham, Manchester, Plymouth or Newton Abbot lives anywhere parking charges are an issue.

Outside London, Edinburgh and a few high-status medieval cities like Cambridge, almost the entire British population lives in semi-suburban houses or blocks of flats where the norm is to park (free) on the street outside.

Parking charges (and actually finding anywhere to park) are an issue if you go into town for sight seeing or shopping, and the British norm is for guests to travel into town in the host's car (because he'll be more familiar with parking than you). Charges vary massively between cities and within cities, but around £1.50-£2 per hour is sort of average in provincial cities during the daytime. If you really need to know, google '[city name] parking'

You can cost out your train fares at www.nationalrail.co.uk. Bought prudently, train tickets might cost a tiny bit less than the total motoring cost. But train travel around England, unlike quick trips from London to a provincial town, can be slow and often infrequent - and a real pain to get from one suburban house to another a couple of hundred miles away

It's the height of irresponsible folly to drive a car in an extraordinarily congested country right after getting off a plane you've been in overnight.

London
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5. Re: Rent a car or take the train?

Early November means it gets dark early - around 4.30-5pm - so it will be dark during the congested evening peak time.

And yes, don't drive straight off an overnight flight.

U.S. expats
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6. Re: Rent a car or take the train?

While it may be more usual to drive in the host's car, I don't know how many are in the OP's party, or for that matter, the relatives he is visiting.

If he is traveling with a family of four, and visiting an Aunt and Uncle, they will not all fit in the same car. That means two cars. And it is *very* usual for locals to show visitors the historic sights which probably are near paid parking.

Maffra, Australia
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7. Re: Rent a car or take the train?

Hi,

I visitied the uk 3 years ago in November and purchased a Britrail pass. November sees cheaper price for it as well. I had no problems with getting around and station staff were helpful, for that matter so were train travellers.

You get online at National rail enquiries and plan your trip with timetables. Britrail has a map which shows were the railways go through the uk.

Iam also heading to the uk this Nov. and am doing the same thing, the train system in the uk is excellent for getting around.

Edited: 01 September 2012, 12:20
Solihull
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8. Re: Rent a car or take the train?

It also has to be said that driving in the UK, particularly on motorways, is not very pleasant.

To get to places like Manchester you need to go up the M6, and this is not a nice motorway to drive up or down (at any time of the day).

Most motorways are 3 lane (with some 2 lane and a few 4 lane) and being a small country much stuff is delivered by huge lorries. These lorries often fill the "slow" lane, forcing the rest of the traffic into the two remaining lanes.

And when one lorry overtakes another lorry, which can take a while, then you are reduced to one effective lane.

Whereas most rail journeys will be relaxing and fairly pleasant, dropping you in the centre of whatever city you are visiting.

While hiring a car may have some attractions it will be more hassle than going by train.

Can you really hire a car for 6 days for GBP200, that seems very cheap. What car was that?

Edited: 01 September 2012, 12:29
Singapore
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9. Re: Rent a car or take the train?

Thank you for your replies. I've developed my itinerary further since I posted the original post and it appears that a car is really the practical solution.

There'll be 3 of us (wife & daughter included), and we would be literally making a round of England and Wales - Plymouth, Cardiff, Manchester and Nottingham before heading back to London.

I have traveled to the UK before and have taken the train, and while it's useful for getting from city to city I'm not sure if it would suffice for detours e.g. visiting Bath on the way from Plymouth to Cardiff (I've read that Bath is not a car-friendly city, but that's a separate forum post!) or stopping by Stonehenge on the way from London to Plymouth.

Lincoln, United...
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10. Re: Rent a car or take the train?

Why is this forum so anti car? From the above description, you'd think the motorway system in this country was broke, whereas usually it is a very good way of getting around. For instance I travelled from home in Lincolnshire to South Somerset - 225miles, in 4 hours. Motorway all the way, no drama at all. I regular drive from home to Newcastle (150 miles) in under 2hrs.30mins. Again, the motorway delivers. Solo, cost wise it is marginal compared to the price of a train ticket.

Yes, you do get accidents, congestion but generally it runs well. Fuel costs certainly need to be taken into account but that depends on the car you are hiring too. I hired a Citroen C1 car (2 days for £48) and that returned well over 75 miles per gallon on the run. Even my own car while carrying 4 people returns over 55 miles per gallon. Train tickets, if bought in advance, can be cheap but flexible if you want to take a detour? Not a hope. Then you have the number of people travelling game. If I was wanting flexibility, the car wins hands down. Going from A to B, train maybe. But don't forget the price increases in the pipeline for January http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19251068 .

There is nothing wrong with Bath for parking. If you object to paying for parking, just travel out a bit, find a side street and park up. Takes all of 10 mins to walk in. I do it every time I visit there.