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How much driving an electric car from Manchester to London, Lake District, Cornwall, Yorkshire and Blackpool costs compared to petrol and catching a train

By Callum Marius & Damon Wilkinson

As petrol prices reach record highs more drivers than ever are turning to the electric car as a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative. Between 2020 and 2021, there was a 68 per cent increase in the number of electric cars registered in Greater Manchester, reaching a record figure of 24,714.

There are now more 360 charging points in Greater Manchester, with Transport for Greater Manchester aiming to increase that to 3,000 by 2025. And with summer holidays on the horizon, thousands of us are considering whether to load up the car or let the train take the strain.

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But the one thing which holds many prospective electric vehicle (EV) drivers back is the price and range on long-distance journeys. Compared with the railways, EVs have an advantage in terms of personal comfort and convenience, but can suffer from the inconsistency of charging points across the UK and the soaring cost of electricity.

And there are huge disparities in the availability of charging points, which can hinder the attractivity and convenience of a long-distance journey. There are currently more than 30,000 charging points across the UK, but, for example, the Isle of Wight has more than double the amount charging points than Bolton, a town with twice the population.

The M.E.N. compared some popular holiday journeys from Manchester to work out which mode of transport comes out most cost-effective. Take a look at the table below (the EV journeys are based on a 2018 Nissan Leaf with a range of 168 miles per charge, while the petrol journeys are based on a average fuel consumption of 52.6 miles per gallon ).

Journey Rail route Rail fare Cost of EV journey Cost of petrol journey
London Manchester Piccadilly to Euston £26.70 advance/£68.60 on the day £13.93, plus £6.50 toll, would require two charges £29.45, plus £6.50 toll
Lake District Manchester Piccadilly to Oxenholme £13.80 advance/ £36.30 on the day £4.97 £10.56
Blackpool Manchester Piccadilly to Blackpool North £7.50/£22.20 on the day £3.50 £7.51
Cornwall Manchester Piccadilly to Newquay £57.20 advance/£237.10 on the day £21.54, would require two charges £45.86
Yorkshire Manchester Piccadilly to Whitby £67.60 on the day (no advance tickets listed) £7.87 £17.04

There are some important caveats to the above calculations - on rail fares, cheaper fares can be available with railcards and one-off promotions such as flash sales, therefore the upfront cost could be even less. However, these savings could be negated on a door-to-door journey if there are additional costs in travelling to/from the rail station. In addition, there are additional costs to take into account when using an EV such as parking, road taxes/insurance and rental costs if the vehicle is hired.

Our calculations suggest that in most circumstances, electric cars are the cheapest form of transport if you have one, although trains beat EVs hands down on time and environmental impact. The true carbon footprint of a train journey is always likely to be lower than an EV due to the environmental impact of vehicle production - notably mining and assembly of battery packs as outlined by a Carbon Brief report.

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Dive Deeper:
Dirty liberal pipe-dream: 3 myths about electric cars
Paris (AFP) - Sceptics say that far from helping save the planet, electric cars are a liberal pipe-dream whose environmental…
Disgusted Manchester commuter told to pay £800 more after train cancelled
He has slammed Avanti West Coast
Brace for a shock: cost-of-living crisis drives up price of electric car charging
Recharging at home is 43% more expensive than a year ago – but EVs are still much cheaper to run…
Scotland’s biggest ultra-rapid charging station opens in Hamilton
The new electric vehicle charge point was part funded by the Scottish Government
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
How Formula E helped change motorsport
The all-electric single-seater series has been a remarkable pioneer since it began in 2014. Its sustainability message has extended across…
Police Scotland spends almost £20m on fleet of electric cars in bid to become 'greenest force' in Britain
In the last three years it has bought 599 specially adapted Hyundai Kona models at a cost of £15.2million, figures…
Get all your news in one place