PaddingtonI knew that rail prices had gone up, but I didn’t realise the difference compared with renting a car until I looked into buying train tickets to Cardiff the other day. I’m going to see Doncaster Rovers play Bristol Rovers in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at the Millennium Stadium on 1 April with my girlfriend, my brother and his girlfriend. (I was born in Doncaster, so that’s the reason!)

We thought we’d look at train prices on the Internet as an alternative to driving, so we could avoid the hassle of parking and so people could have a drink.

The cheapest rail ticket from Paddington to Cardiff that suited us was £94.20 each. Out of interest, I thought I’d look at how that compared with hiring a medium-sized car, such as a Ford Focus, for a day from Avis.

If you look at the sums for all four of us there’s a huge difference:

4 return train tickets from London Paddington to Cardiff = £376.80 + travel from home to the station + travel from Cardiff station to the Millennium Stadium (both ways)

1 medium-sized car for four passengers on = £49.40 + petrol + travel to Avis office and back + parking (and minus beers for the drivers!)

I know you can get cheap deals if you book early on the trains, and at particular times, but that’s not always convenient. With a car there’s the issue of parking, but with the train you still have to get between the station and your destination – and back again – which is likely to be a lot further than the car park.

We’ve decided to take my car, and my girlfriend and I will share the driving. But what if you don’t have a car, or it’s too small to take everyone? For families and groups I do think that renting for a day or two for a trip like mine can make financial sense. Avis often has special offers, and you can sign up to our e-newsletter to have details sent direct.

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