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Why Brits Should Choose to Travel by Coach & not Train

Posted by Hailstone on July 10, 2018

We’re almost spoilt for choice when it comes to travel options, especially with shorter journeys. Getting taxis, the tube, a bus or tram is great for quick journeys, but what about longer ones?

A bigger journey usually means you’ll be choosing between a train and coach. Some may even get a plane from city to city. If you’re a big group of people, what’s the likelihood that you’ll all get a seat together on a train? Or that you’ll have enough luggage room and will experience a completely stress free journey?

As for planes, to fly from Manchester to London it will only take you one hour as opposed to a 2 and a half hour train journey. However, you’ll still need to arrive to the airport 60-90 minutes before and you’ll also need to factor in the time it takes you to get to the airport as well as the time spent in customs and passport control.

Coaches aren’t as Timely as you Think

Most people prefer to catch a train over a coach as they believe it’s quicker. Sometimes this is true and others it’s not.

In fact, Passengers lost 3.6m hours due to significant train delays in 2016-17, according to research by Which?.

Catching a train that has no delays or cancellations can be quick and arriving 30 minutes before to print out your tickets and find your platform isn’t too much of a convenience. You’ll of course have to factor your time travelling to the train station in too.

Opting for a coach or minibus wastes no time at all. If you hire a private minibus or coach you can be picked up from a location of your choice and be taken directly to your desired destination.

No stopping at different stations or having to change trains and platforms. Once you’re on the coach there’s no added time doing other things just to start or continue your journey.

If a coach ride is 1 hour longer than the train, it’s understandable why you’d choose a train. However, after factoring in all the added time and risk of delays and cancellations, it’ may not actually be any quicker.

You’ll save Money

Average rail ticket prices have risen by 3.4% across the UK. It’s the biggest increase to fares since 2013 and many commuters have seen their season tickets go up by more than £100.

Fares used to account for about half the cost of running our trains, whereas now it is around 70%.

Recent research from KPMG showed that only 34% of UK rail customers are very confident that they bought the best value ticket for their last journey.

Everyone wants to get value for their money and Brits aren’t confident their getting it.

Even when we’re not getting the service we are promised and require. A complicated compensation scheme meant that in 2018 while passenger’s suffered from disrupted work schedules and loss of business, the train operators raked in millions.

Only 40% of commuters and 54% of leisure passengers are aware of their rights to claim compensation. It’s no wonder Brits are showing a decline in consumer confidence and feel as though their left in the dark.

The Department for Transport stated that rising rail prices are capped in line with inflation. However, with many not experiencing a pay rise that is in line with inflation, there’s a gap.

Most train website require you to pay a booking fee and also delivery cost if you’re not wanting to print them at a station or get an e-ticket. One train booking provider was even in the news for adding a £5 booking fee on top of the ticket price. It’s no secret that coaches tend to be cheaper, especially for groups. No hidden costs and a guarantee that it will turn up on time, if not early. We’re paying more for a train ticket but aren’t always receiving the service that allows that cost to be implicated. Say you’re a group of people looking to visit a theme park. If you’re all paying for an individual ticket, plus a booking fee from £1.50 to £5, it’s going to be expensive. However, if you were to hire a private coach, you’d pay a fixed cost for the group which would then be divided by the number of people. Being treated as a group will already cut the cost, as well as it being overall cheaper than a train ticket.

Coaches have Proven to be more Reliable

Network Rail approved the transport minister’s idea for a new rail timetable that was implemented in May 20th 2018. It mainly affected northerners due to the Northern rail service but it of course lead to affecting the UK as whole.

Changes to the Govia Thameslink Railway and Northern Rail resulted in hundreds of service cancellations and delays.

You couldn’t miss the news coverage reporting train delays and cancellations.

''Hundreds of train cancellations as a result of a new timetable is ridiculous, it's absurd. It shows an irresponsible attitude towards the public and the lack of accountability of the train operating companies.''
Jeremy Corbyn
British Politician

There were a total of 1.7 billion train journeys made in 2017/18, which was 1.4% lower than the previous year. The number of rail passengers has been rising since 2009/10 but the 8 year rising figure was disrupted by a fall this year.

The decline was driven by a record fall of 2.1 % in the London and south-east region, which makes up more than two-thirds of all journeys. Season ticket trips were down 9.2 % and demand at South Western Railway fell 7.9 % because of engineering works at Waterloo and a change of ownership.

Once reliable and quick, UK rail companies have lost trust and the figures prove it. How many times have you seen coaches in the press for cancellations, strikes and delays? It’s often the coaching companies, especially the big players that end up picking up the pieces when the train disasters strike.

Coaches offer an Enjoyable Experience

How many times have you been on a train that has no available seats and you end up sitting near a toilet or walkway? It happens way too often. Having to book seats way in advance just to get a seat isn’t always possible.

Booking onto a coach, hiring a coach or hiring a private mini bus means you’ll always have a seat. You also won’t be around as many people, as they typically can’t hold anywhere near the same capacity.

It’s defiantly a more personal experience and some coach companies, especially private ones will made a special effort to make your journey as enjoyable as possible.

They may even know about the destination you’re going to and be able to give you some tips and recommendations. The experience is so much more stress free and you actually do get a better, more personal service.

Not to mention the added stress that’s taken away from trying to find somewhere to put your luggage. Coaches have loads of space that’s underneath you that can hold your luggage completely out of the way.

It’s also a lot safer too with almost no risk of it being stolen and you also won’t have to turn around every 10 minutes to check your luggage is still on the train rack.  Plus, no more sitting with your suitcase and bags on top of your lap.

You also get dropped off at your desired location. We touched on this at the start of the article but the luxury of being picked up from one location and being directly taken there with no stops needs to be taken advantage of more.

If you are a group of people going to the races or the beach, you can only travel to a train station and you’ll either then pay more money to get a taxi or you’ll have to walk to the location.

This can cause a lot of stress for some people and it’s nice to not have to worry about these things and also pay less!

If you’re a solo traveller, coaches are still a more affordable option. You’re not going to hire a private coach or minibus, as this is more suited to groups but you can still get a very similar experience from sharing a coach with other people.

The increase in poor service from the rail industry and decline in consumer confidence will allow more people to experience and take advantage of the perks of coach travel.