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A London man who helps run a “money saving community” spent over £200 buying an old car and driving it to Bristol and back for the day, apparently unaware of the price of a flexible day trip by high-speed rail: just £140 return, with slower trains available at barely half as much.

Tom Church, from Crouch End in North London, says he bought a 1997 Honda Civic for £80, taxed it for six months and insured it for a day. He then filled it with £25 in petrol, which he claims was enough to travel the 250-mile round trip. In total he says spent £206.81.

Mr Church told BBC 5 Live: “When you go up and buy a train ticket on the day from London to Bristol as a return it’s £218.

“This is really just to show how crazy train ticket prices have become. Just buying one car for one trip was cheaper.”

“You know guys, we’ve got to do something about these train tickets because it’s crazy.”

The rail fare Mr Church quoted is based on a one-day Travelcard which also allows unlimited travel within all travel zones in Greater London.

An Anytime ticket on a GWR high-speed train from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads is £211.40. But no-one travelling from London to Bristol for any meaningful length of time would ever pay that amount.

While a £105.70 one-way fare applies for westbound journeys on trains up to 8.30am, all departures from Temple Meads to Paddington from 10am onwards for the remainder of the day are classed as Super Off Peak with a one-way fare of £34.30. So the most expensive realistic rail fare is £140 return.

Budget travellers, however, are well aware that much cheaper deals on fully flexible tickets are available. By buying “split tickets” — one to Didcot Parkway, where most trains stop, and another from there to Bristol — the highest possible fare is £94.70.

Another option is to travel on slower trains from London Waterloo via Salisbury to Bristol, which have a maximum Anytime fare of £73.30. The rail journey takes up to three hours each way.

Other, cheaper deals include National Express coaches, with a fully flexible fare of £48.80 from Victoria Coach Station in London to Bristol. A new “on-demand” bus operation, Sn-Ap, has a maximum fare of under £25 return.

On his website, Mr Church calls himself a “life hacker“, which he defines as “someone who uses unorthodox methods to increase productivity and efficiency in all walks of life”.

He appears to have achieved remarkable productivity from £25 in fuel, which buys about 4.6 gallons. On a 250-mile journey including a fair amount of urban driving, that works out at over 54mpg.

According to the US Department of Energy, with figures adjusted to Imperial gallons, a 1997 Honda Civic typically delivers 41mpg, with a maximum of 47mpg.

The Independent has tried to contact Mr Church to discuss his journey.

HS2 claims to reduce travel times, unfortunately that saving is from station to station, for most train journeys the time and inconvenience of getting to and from a station far outweighs that tiny saving.

Spend some time on google maps comparing train and car journeys around the country, quite a lot of door to door destinations can be 5X longer by train…very few are quicker, practically none are cheaper, even for a single driver.

I think everyone else has nailed the dishonesty in the article already.

If the guy keeps the car and it breaks down for good after only a couple of days, he’s saved. If it lasts a week, he’s made a terrific saving.

Thats it there..four business men could have limo pick them up from home, wait outside their destinations and take them home for far less than their combined rail fares.

Calder, we all know that you have an anti-car agenda but can’t you get the point? Even if what you say is true, the guy could *almost* buy tax insure and fuel a car for the same price as a rail ticket.

I bet he had a much nicer time getting there, was able to stop off to see his mum on the way, call in at the supermarket on the way back and at the end of it…well, he had a car, to use or to sell. The only thing you take away from a rail journey is a lingering sense of resentment at the fat cats stealing your money.

The point is not that cars are necessarily better than public transport, but that the cost of the UK’s privatised rail tickets is an enormous scandal.

The fact that this is even possible speaks volumes about the cost of rail transport. It may have been possible to do the trip by train for half the cost of his car trip. but he could have taken four other people with him and he had the freedom to go more or less door to door as and when he wanted.

I couldn’t even be bothered reading all the options on how a train tickets could be cheaper, it’s simply too complicated.

France can do it much cheaper, China much cheaper, Spain much cheaper, America much cheaper, Germany much cheaper, but not here in rainy overcast Britain where everything costs at least twice the price if they can get away with it.

We’ve sold the family silver and been left scratching for pennies, while paying through the nose for essential services, that rake in fortunes for the privileged few.

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