Why take a train from London to Edinburgh... when it’s cheaper to fly via Poland & Germany?
Seeking a route worthy of the eye-watering price tag, William Stein, 22, a student at the London School of Economics (LSE), found low-cost Ryanair tickets would allow him to get to Edinburgh for the same price of a train journey, but with the additional perk of enjoying stopovers in Poland and Germany.
For just £97.76, Stein visited three European stopover cities: Szczecin, Berlin and Glasgow. And all for just £10 more than the cheapest train fare he could find to Edinburgh.
Stein said the cheapest option he could find on price comparison site Thetrainline.com was two single tickets for two specific Virgin Trains, which would have cost him at least £80. This is despite booking five weeks in advance with a Young Person’s railcard discount.
The flight to Edinburgh via Szczecin cost Stein just £21.99. Ryanair, however, canceled the flight and gave him a £40 voucher, which he used to pay for a £14 flight to Glasgow.
As he managed to get accommodation with friends in Germany, Stein then ended up spending just an extra £10 on a hostel in Poland, £7 on a bus from Szczecin to Berlin, £8.80 on a bus from Glasgow to Edinburgh and £45.40 on a train back from Edinburgh to London.
Speaking from Berlin, Stein told the Evening Standard: “Who would’ve known you can visit four cities for the price of one? I didn’t really believe it myself and it all kicked in when I touched down in Szczecin and saw this tiny airport.”
“It is so bizarre. I knew, of course, the UK is more expensive than other places – but it made me think the rail companies are charging so much for these trains, and wonder how much profit they are making.
“Especially for students, just getting around the country is so expensive, it is absolutely absurd – and that’s with a Railcard. I’m so scared for when it expires.”
Although people are “slagging” off Ryanair at the moment for a spate of flight cancellations, it is a service that “allows everyone to travel,” he said. It costs less to go from London to Poland than to go from London Stansted Airport to Central London.
A spokesperson for Virgin Trains on the East Coast Main Line route claimed: “Our average fares between London and Edinburgh are more than £30 cheaper than comparable airlines, with fares between London and Edinburgh starting at £25 one way when booked in advance.”
Continuing the sales blurb, the spokesperson further claimed:
“That’s why we’re seeing so many more customers deciding to take the train over the plane. If customers wish to travel via Poland on their way to Scotland, they might be able to find a cheap deal, but they’d miss out on a chance to relax while looking at the beautiful views afforded by the route, before arriving directly into Edinburgh’s wonderful city center.”