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

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 MEN 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 an average fuel consumption of 52.6 miles per gallon).

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Journey railroute rail fare Cost of EV journey Cost of oil 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 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 denied on a door-to-door journey if there are additional costs in traveling 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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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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