Revealed: the UK rail fares that cost more than a flight to Europe

berlin
A flight from London to Berlin is cheaper that a train to Scotland, Telegraph Travel's research found Credit: iStock

Flying to Europe for a weekend break can be cheaper than taking a train to another UK city, research by Telegraph Travel has found.

Rail fares are set for a 2.8 per cent hike in January with ticket prices linked to July’s retail price index (RPI) measure of inflation.

In response,  has called for the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to be used to set fares, rather than RPI.

“Passengers already pay thousands of pounds to endure overcrowding, delays and cancellations. It’s time to stop the rhetoric on fare increases," said Darren Shirley, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport.

“The Government should commit to January’s fares rise being linked to CPI and a comprehensive package of rail fare reforms should follow after the Rail Review is complete,” he added. 

Broaden your horizons with a trip to Geneva Credit: Getty

RPI was 2.8 per cent in July, while the CPI was 2.1 per cent in the same month. 

While regular commuters take the biggest hit when ticket prices rise, weekend tourists are also affected. 

We did some spot research on train fares for trips between UK cities in September, and compared them with flight prices to European cities for the same weekend. 

In several cases, train travel for a trip within the UK would be more expensive than flying to a European destination. 

All fares below are based on travelling anytime on Friday 20 September and returning anytime on Sunday 22 September. 

The cheapest rail journey from London to Manchester was £58. The cheapest for London to York was £52; from London to Edinburgh was £124, and to Glasgow £132.

If you wanted to plan ahead and fly to Europe for the weekend, on the other hand, there were some bargains to be had. Keep Scotland for a later date and instead head for the delights of Berlin - we found a Ryanair flight from London Stansted for £62. 

Meanwhile, flying from Stansted to Paris with easyJet would cost just £83 (as long as you can make do with cabin baggage). You could also fly from London Luton to Warsaw for just £66 with Wizz Air (again, hand luggage only). A trip to Hamburg from London Stansted was also a relative steal at £57 with Ryanair.

For those based in Birmingham, the cheapest return train ticket to Edinburgh we found was £106. Travel further afield and a flight to Amsterdam costs just £85, saving you £21.

Or, if you’re in Manchester and craving a weekend break, forget London (£75 for the cheapest tickets) and instead head for Geneva. A return flight was £74 with easyJet.

Inspiration for your inbox

Sign up to Telegraph Travel's new weekly newsletter for the latest features, advice, competitions, exclusive deals and comment.

You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.