Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - Rebecca {P}
Ok, here's the situation. I want to visit a relative in Birmingham with my 2 young kids. I need to go there and back in a day. So do I drive? (comfy, reliable car, petrol paid by employer, but traffic/weather unknown and kids bored) Or do I go by train - Southampton Parkway to New Street direct in under 3 hours (will cost, but can keep kids occupied, only extreme weather an issue, no toilet stops needed, but risk of delays etc).

Other factors to consider - relative is housebound so we can't meet half way. Husband is working so can't do the driving for me (!) Route by car is likely to be M27 - A34 - M40 - M42 - M6 -10 mins local roads. I (more or less) stick to speed limits, and on a good day, the car journey would take about 3 1/2 hours I think.

This trip can be made in the next few days (but not 31st/1st) so does the day we go make any difference to your answer?

Not the most taxing of problems I know, but I can't decide what to do. I'm sure a Backroomer or two would have an opinion though!


Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - smokie
I can't imagine why you'd want to do it by train...

I'm quite pro public transport for "moving the masses" i.e. getting people to work and home again, especially over specific trips - eg into London (can't remember the last time I did that one by car, but coincidenetally will be trying tomorrow - from Wokingham, to Dominion Totttenham Court Road - parking will be the problem.)

But if I had your choice I wouldn't think twice - especially at this time of year when the roads might be quieter. A nice long drive, my own music, stop and go when I want, and people I know for company. What more could a driver want...
Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - Tom Shaw
Traffic at this time of year is fairly light, so the car journey should be quite straight forward. My experience of trains are not happy, on the few occasions I've used them I have always regretted it. A non-driving relative of my sister-inlaw comes down from Scotland to west Wales now and again, flying to either Heathrow or Cardiff and catching the train the rest of the way. I don't ever remember an occasion when he arrived on time, and it is always the train journey that causes the problem. The last time he had to get a taxi from Cardiff, paid for by the train company, because after waiting for two hours he was finally told his train had been cancelled and there would not be another till next morning.

For commuting trains may be ok, even essential but for off peak journeys they can be a nightmare, leaving you stranded miles from anywhere and relying on information from station staff who often know no more than you do.

My personal choice would be to drive, but backroomers with any knowledge of that particular route might advise differently.
Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - smokie
Tom...It even qualifies as being a good route...
Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - Hugo {P}
Have you investigated air travel?

I don't know if there are any flights from Southampton to birmingham that are reasonably priced but it's worth a shot.

If that's not an option, I would definitely go by car. Sorry but I don;t have many recent experiences with trains that I wish to remember.

Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - Nortones2
I'd go by train rather than Mway, especially with children. But.... it depends on the train frequency, the operator and connections at the station. I've made many, many main line journeys from the NW down to London, and generally its been fine, and productive (reading and working). Where the journeys have been troublesome are on minor routes, and sometimes due to really bad weather. Other than that the train can be excellent and much less tiring, IMHO.

Now, a combination of A roads and the right terrain (not the SE) would make a road journey enticing. But Mways = zzzzzzz! Theirin lies an issue
Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - Dynamic Dave
Take the car.
Everyone gets a seat.
You won't have to put up with other people's personal habits, smells, mobile phones, etc.
Your car will take care of the wet leaves better than the train :o)
Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - SteveH42
If your car had to put up with 'wet leaves' in the condition they end up on the rails after being compressed at a few thousand PSI, it wouldn't cope that well either. It's unfortunate that a series of PR gaffes have made very serious issues (in this case lack of grip and the inability to reliably detect where the trains are) look foolish.

To answer the question, a lot depends how accessible your final destination is from the station. If it's out of the city centre then the car might be better - unless there is a nearby local station. Also, don't forget that in the season of goodwill to all, the rail companies withdraw the cheaper tickets to maximise their profits...
Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - carlh

The train company that operate from Southampton to New Street is Virgin. They have just introduced new 'Voyager' trains that have only half as many seats as the trains they replace. They are almost always overcrowded and if you don't have a reservation, you probably won't get a seat. It is likely they will be late and don't imagine that you wont need to stop to go to the loo - the new trains have a software problem that is causing some of the toilet doors to jam !

For me, it would be car whatever the motorway traffic conditions.


Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - Daedalus
My wife has the same dilema, but not so far to go, 2 hours train, 2 hours car. If all 3 kids go she takes the car, if only her and/or one of the kids then its the train. She's not done herself and 2 kids!
Not an answer but maybe a pointer.

Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - Cyd
I drive most of this route regularly (Lutterworth to Bournemouth) and usually on a Sunday. Normally the M6 is very busy southbound on a Sunday, but this might be relieved during the holidays.

I'd go by car - set off around 8am to pass Brum in middle of day and set off for return about 7 to 8pm.

There are plenty of services on the A34. the last services you will see northbound are at Warwick (between J12 & J15 M40), so I'd plan to stop here for a break. If you fancy it, set off around 9am, come off the M40 at Gaydon (J12) and go into Lighthorne (not very far) for a pub lunch. Or even take in the Motor Heritage Centre (about 2 miles from J12 M40 & well signed). If you do take in the MHC plan for a couple of hours here.
Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - FFX-DM
I had a similar think when journeying from Hertfordshire to Newcastle for Christmas.

Price: car - 600m @50mpg (diesel) = approx £44
train - 2 x singles into Euston £14
1 x saver ticket to Newcastle £55
bus fares - £5 (approx)
total = £74

Time: car - 4.5 - 5 hours each way
train - 6.20 each way (includes trip to Station, into London, across to Kings Cross, Up to Newcastle and bus to home - assumes perfect timings to meet up with trains and buses)

Convenience : car - door to door
as much stuff as I can fit in the car
personal security
depart exactly when I chose
Have car for trips when visiting relatives
train - lots of changes
carting all stuff by hand
pickpockets and other undesirables
tied into train times (my sister had choice of dep at 8.30am or 6.30pm)
no public transport on Christmas day

Okay, so I didn't factor in depreciation, but I drive an older car which I bought cheap so I don't worry too much about that. All in all, not a terribly difficult decision to make. If there was more than just myself in the car then the gap in cost would be even greater. If I had kids in tow, the idea of the walk, train, bus, wait, train, bus and walk involved in the public transport scenario would be unthinkable!

BTW, I commuted into London every day for 11 years and it was the increasing expense and misery of that journey that prompted me to look for a job which I could drive to (ie. park at) and not have to go on the train. The only downside so far is the fact that my daily reading time has decreased and I cannot have a drink after work before driving home.

Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - Bromptonaut
You are doing the right thing; before starting the journey think about how!. This one looks a close call, sometimes the answer will be the car, just you and two miles down the road a pushbike is right. The failure for all of us is the unthinking jump in the car, even to go round the corner for a pack of fags.
Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - Armitage Shanks{P}
You can get a Family Railcard which will seriously reduce the cost of any train journey you make. I regularly can't face driving 230 miles direct up the A1 to visit my grandchildren but am being forced to reconsider due to recent utterly dire experiences on the East Coast mainline. IF the trains work I can get to where I want to go for 20 miles motoring to and from the station, some charge for parking on the station car park (if I bother to use it, and my train journey for £27 return. That is WAY cheaper than the cost of driving but the aggravation and the not knowing if you are going arrive on time or in time is too awful! I am going again next month and haven't decided which is the lesser of 2 very evil evils!
Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - Dave_TD
Don't quite know where you have to get from and to, AS, but I wouldn't attempt such a long drive up the A1 anyway. I'd go up the M1, the new section past Leeds which joins up with the A1 is a revelation!
Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - Dave_TD
And you don't want to know how much the cab fare would be... X-)
(Clue: Bedford to Manchester = £160 one way)
Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - smokie
Rebecca - how did you go then? By car I bet....
Minor dilemma - go by car or train? - Rebecca {P}
I haven't managed to go yet! I was influenced to go for the car but the weather forecast has been so bad, and I can't bear driving in pouring rain, so I have postponed. Then to make life more complicated it seems that all 3 of us could travel (on Virgin) for £20 return if I time the buying of the tickets right. This has made the train seem a good option again! The weather won't be so much of a problem, and our journey isn't time critical - no connections to make or hard and fast appointment times.

Indecisive? Moi?


Value my car