- Save money by dumping the train and leasing a car
- Finance deals ensure a more reliable commute
- Cars can prove cheaper, even with fuel and maintenance
With train commuters held to ransom by ever more regular rail strikes - especially commuters using Southern Rail - getting to work can be much more challenging than it should be for many Brits. If you’re one of them and don’t think there is an alternative, however, think again.
If you normally pay for a first-class season ticket, chances are that you could get yourself a brand new car through PCP finance or PCH leasing, pay for fuel, maintenance and insurance and still save money in the process. Plus you’ll never have to worry about whether or not you’ll actually be able to get to work or face the prospect of being stuck at the office, unable to make your way home.
Read on to find out how taking back control of your commute could not only cut your stress levels but cut your bills too. Alternatively, if you’re considering a car loan, check out our car loan calculator.
There’s no better time to reboot your commute, with hundreds of thousands of commuters finding themselves at the mercy of warring unions and train companies every few months.
Southern Rail commuter routes canned during strike times include services between Horsham, West Sussex and Dorking in Surrey, Uckfield and Hurst Green south of London, and Seaford and Haywards Heath in Sussex.
Choose your car wisely and even including bills you can boycott these strike-struck services and save money. With deposits from as little as £0, not having a huge amount of cash to hand is no reason to think you can’t afford a car, either.
(All the costs below are based on average prices: see our list of sources for reference)
Southern Rail vs Peugeot 3008
Route: Seaford to Haywards Heath
If you normally pay for a first-class ticket on the Seaford to Haywards Heath route with Southern Rail, paying monthly, your bill would be £11,696 over three years.
But instead of paying out for your Southern Rail season ticket and being faced with recurring strikes, you could run a Peugeot 3008 with a friend, car sharing for three years at a cost of £9,470 per person.
This would save you £742 EACH per year; with this saving of £2,226 over the three years you could spend this on:
- 70 days’ average mortgage payment, or
- 10 weeks’ childcare, or
- 5,565 Smarties tubes (a total of 183,645 Smarties)
Our suggestion is to lease the Peugeot, buy the Smarties, and fill the Peugeot up with the Smarties.
Southern Rail vs Peugeot 108
Route: Seaford to Haywards Heath
Your standard-class season ticket for the Seaford to Haywards Heath route, paid upfront for the year, would cost you £6,768 for three years.
If you opted instead to car share and lease a Peugeot 108 between four of you, this would cost £2,771 each.
Your savings would be £1,676 per year per person - a total of £5,028 over three years. Your savings would equate to:
- A 6% pay rise for the average earner, or
- 158 days’ average mortgage payment, or
- An average honeymoon with £615 change
Southern Rail vs Vauxhall Astra
Route: Uckfield to Hurst Green
Paying monthly, your first-class season ticket for three years on the Uckfield to Hurst Green route would cost you £10,120.
Leasing a Vauxhall Astra with three friends could cost £4,274; a saving of £1,949 per person per year. What could you spend this extra cash on?
- All your utility and water bills with £42 change, or
- 184 days’ average mortgage payment, or
- An average-priced wedding dress and honeymoon with £56 change, or
- Three years' council tax and TV/Phone/Broadband for an extra £9, or
- 27 weeks’ childcare
Southern Rail vs Peugeot 208
Route: Horsham to Sutton
Your standard-class season ticket from Horsham to Sutton, paid upfront every year, will set you back £9,360 despite the number of days Southern Rail strikes stop you from getting to work.
However, invest in a car share on a Peugeot 208 with two other people, and this will cost you £4,950.
Your savings, on top of the cost of the lease, would be £1,470 per year per person, a total of £4,410 overall, which equates to:
- 139 days’ of mortgage payments, or
- An average-priced honeymoon and £537 change, or
- Free council tax for three years, or
- 20 weeks’ childcare
Southern Rail vs Peugeot 308
Route: Horsham to Sutton
Paying monthly, a first-class season ticket on this route costs £16,175 over three years, while a Peugeot 308 will only set you back £4,347 if you lease and car share with three friends or colleagues.
Your total savings would be £11,829 per person (£3,943 each per year). What could you spend this bundle of cash on?
- 372 days’ of mortgage payments, or
- 54 weeks’ childcare costs, or
- Council tax, utilities, water and TV/phone/broadband and £168 change for the duration
Southern Rail vs BMW 330d
Route: Horsham to Sutton
Instead of spending £16,175 in monthly payments for your first-class ticket over three years, lease a BMW 330d with two friends for just £10,127 per person.
Your savings of £2,016 per year, a total of £6,048 over three years, could be used for:
- 190 days’ mortgage payments, or
- Your utility and water bills for the duration and £243 change, or
- Council tax and TV/phone/broadband and £192 change for the duration, or
- 28 week’s childcare costs
Southern Rail vs Jaguar F-Pace
Route: Horsham to Sutton
Spend £7,351 per person on a Jaguar F-Pace to lease with three friends rather than paying £16,175 in monthly payments over three years, and your total savings each would be £8,823.
Not only would this grant you a luxurious, comfortable and fast journey to work (rather than Southern Rail strikes preventing you from getting to work at all), but you could then spend the extra savings on the following:
- 278 days’ mortgage payments, or
- 41 weeks’ of childcare, or
- A family holiday each year with £1,323 change
Southern Rail strikes December 2016
Southern Rail vs Peugeot 108: Save £425 per year by leasing a car
Opt for a Peugeot 108 through the company’s Just Add Fuel scheme – which includes car tax, servicing, insurance and roadside assistance – and you could not only guarantee that you can complete every journey, but also spend less than getting a first-class train ticket every month – even including the cost of petrol.
Over three years, paying for the car, maintenance costs and fuel could save you up to £1,274 compared with train season tickets across multiple routes south of London – all with the potential of similar journey times. So if you thought getting the train was the best-value, least-hassle way to commute, you might want to rethink.
Seaford (Sussex) to Haywards Heath
36 monthly first-class season tickets: £11,491 (36 monthly payments of £319.20)
Peugeot 108 1.0 Access 3dr: £10,217 (at £122.95 per month with a £2,000 deposit)*
Uckfield to Hurst Green
36 monthly first-class season tickets: £9,940 (36 monthly payments of £276.10)
Peugeot 108 1.0 Access 3dr: £10,165 (at £122.95 per month with a £2,000 deposit)*
Horsham to Dorking
36 monthly first-class season tickets: £8,669 (36 monthly payments of £240.80)
Peugeot 108 1.0 Access 3dr: £8,203.89 (at £115.76 per month with a £2,000 deposit)*
Ditch Southern Rail, lease a car and save £1,992
Those travelling between Horsham and Sutton could save even more by financing a car compared with paying for a sub-standard train service. A three-year Just Add Fuel PCP contract for the diesel Peugeot 208 1.6 HDi 75 Active would set you back less than £14,000 – nearly £2,000 less than the train – including fuel, servicing, road tax and insurance. Furthermore, even at rush hour your journey isn’t likely to take any longer by car.
If the 208 doesn’t take your fancy you could get a Ford Ka+ for under £13,000 in total costs, which gives you plenty of change to get insurance cover and still be better off than shelling out for monthly season tickets. Whichever option you go for, you can be sure you’ll have your own seat every day, too.
Horsham to Sutton
36 monthly first-class season tickets: £15,887 (36 monthly payments of £441.30)
Peugeot 208 1.6 HDi 75 Active: £13,895 (at £222.79 with a £2,000 deposit)*
Ford Ka+ 1.2 70 Studio: £12,826 (at £197.16 with a £1,182.96 deposit plus insurance)*
Run a Jaguar or range-topping Audi for less than first-class Swindon-to-Reading ticket
It’s not just strike-plagued Southern Rail services that prove costly when compared with car leasing alternatives. Opting for a high-spec Audi A4 Avant – or even a Jaguar F-Pace – could save you thousands over paying for a first-class season ticket for travel between Swindon and Reading.
Choose either of these cars and you can expect to spend around £32,000 in leasing costs, maintenance, car tax and fuel over three years. First-class season tickets bought monthly, however, could set you back a whopping £35,474 – meaning you'll have plenty spare to hand to spend on car insurance, and still have change.
Even if you don't travel first class you could still run a car for less than the train costs. While three years' of standard-class monthly season tickets would set you back £18,194, a diesel Vauxhall Astra with fuel and maintenance thrown in would be just under £16,000 – with plenty left to cover insurance. And you can drive right into the office car park.
Swindon to Reading
36 monthly standard-class season tickets: £18,194 (36 monthly payments of £505.40)
Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTI 110 Tech Line: £15,978 (at £268.26 per month with an £804.78 deposit plus insurance)*
36 monthly first-class season tickets: £35,474 (36 monthly payments of £985.40)
Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d Prestige: £31,222 (at £576.24 per month with a £3,457.44 deposit plus insurance)*
Audi A4 Avant 3.0 TDI 272 S Line: £32,359 (at £640.15 per month with a £1,920.46 deposit plus insurance)*
Audi for the cost of first class, Peugeot for the cost of standard class
Trains between Eastleigh near Southampton and Farnborough in Hampshire may be a little cheaper, but savvy commuters can still cash in by leasing a car rather than continuing to take the train – with very similar rush hour commute times.
Even including day-to-day running costs, a Peugeot 308 is over £3,000 cheaper than rail. An Audi A3 comes within budget too, with a little left over for insurance. Meanwhile, you’ll pay just an 80p premium every day to run a Peugeot 108 compared with a standard-class ticket for this route.
Eastleigh to Farnborough
36 monthly standard-class tickets: £12,802 (36 monthly payments of £355.60)
Peugeot 108 1.0 Access 3dr: £13,361 (at £147.49 per month with a £2,000 deposit)*
36 monthly first-class season tickets: £21,762 (36 monthly payments of £604.50)
Peugeot 308 1.6 HDI 100 Active: £18,620 (at £318.62 per month with a £2,000 deposit)*
Audi A3 1.6 TDI SE 3dr: £20,371 (at £366.90 per month with a £2,201.40 deposit plus insurance)*
Nissan Qashqai for less than Milton Keynes-to-Watford season ticket
It’s a similar story if you commute from Milton Keynes to Watford High Street, with a first-class season ticket paid for monthly weighing in at £18,886. That amount is enough to lease a Nissan Qashqai with maintenance for three years including fuel, with £1,215 change to pay for three years’ insurance.
Milton Keynes Central to Watford High Street
36 monthly first-class season tickets: £18,886 (36 monthly payments of £524.60)
Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta: £17,671 (at £308.86 per month with a £1,853.14 deposit plus insurance)*
Want to discover more about car finance? Click on the links below:
*Deals are correct at time of publication. Everyone’s financial circumstances are different and credit is not always available – Parkers cannot recommend a deal for you specifically. These deals are indicative examples of some packages available this week.
Smarties: 3 tubes (38g) - £1.20 (Tesco special offer)
Average salary: £28,000 Net monthly salary: £1,851 (Office for National Statistics)