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It’s now cheaper to get a private flight than to use the train in the UK

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Dave Fawbert
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The privatisation of the railways really has been a rip-roaring success hasn’t it? Increased capacity, reliable services and cheap prices for all to travel in the most environmentally-friendly way possible.

Oh, what’s that? Oh. Apparently, that’s not actually true. No, rail fares – especially if you commit the apparently unacceptable crime of not booking 13 weeks in advance of your journey – are now ludicrously expensive. In fact, just having a quick look now I see that a single (a single) from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly to travel today is a snip at a mere £169. Thanks Richard bloody Branson, thanks for nothing.

But if you’ve got to get to Manchester today, then you just have to swallow your pride and hand over the cash. Or do you?

Not if you’re money saving expert Tom Church you don’t.

He has discovered the staggering truth that it is cheaper to fly by private plane to Newcastle than it is to travel by train – and it takes half the time.

He took a look at the rail prices to Newcastle last Friday evening and found some very expensive results:

He then used a service called Wingly, which connects hobbyist pilots with the general public, posting a message to ask if anyone was flying to Newcastle. Several people got in touch with offers, with Tom eventually settling on one:

And the price? Less than half the cost of a train ticket to Newcastle.

The flight took just an hour and 40 minutes, as opposed to the three hours or so that it would have taken on the train.

Plus, just look how happy it made him:

Not only that, he didn’t even need to bother with the rigmarole normally associated with flying.

He told Unilad: “You can go in a private plane as the only passenger and it’s cheaper than the train. The perception that flying is a rich man’s hobby is over. Now anyone can do it and it can save you money. For them, it’s about spreading the joy of flying, taking routes they wouldn’t normally do and offsetting some of the cost. The booking is then arranged direct with the pilot. Tom even got a personal text message confirming the aircraft was fuelled and ready to go.”

He continued: “There’s no check-in, no baggage handling, no bothersome security. It’s just you and the pilot. We were surfing on the clouds and Andrew, the pilot, explained how it all works. We saw rainbows and beautiful clouds. I will definitely be doing it again.”

He added, pretty sensibly: “This is a wake up call to Transport Minister Chris Grayling. When flying between UK cities is cheaper than the train, you know something’s gone wrong. Members of my bargain hunting community had long been complaining about the price of train tickets. It’s one of Britain’s worst problems. So I started to research alternative means for long-distance travel. Going by bus is the cheapest, but it takes too long. There’s no option by boat or ferry. So I turned to the sky.”

Andrew Hyett, the pilot, added: “I think this is a great idea. I was flying from London to Newcastle anyway, so it makes sense to take someone with me.”

[Images: Tom Church]

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Dave Fawbert

ShortList.com staff writer Dave’s primary passions are pop, prose, punning and power ballads (and alliteration). A lower division football enthusiast and long-suffering cricket fan, he is one of only 110 people followed on Twitter by Chas Hodges from Chas ‘n’ Dave. Follow Dave on Twitter like Chas: @davefawbert

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