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Volume 496: debated on Monday 20 July 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport (1) what estimate he has made of the average cost per return journey by (a) air, (b) rail and (c) car between (i) London and Edinburgh, (ii) London and Glasgow, (iii) London and Manchester, (iv) London and Aberdeen, (v) London and Newcastle, (vi) Birmingham and Edinburgh, (vii) Birmingham and Glasgow, (viii) Bristol and Edinburgh, (ix) Bristol and Glasgow, (x) Edinburgh and Manchester and (xi) London and Newquay; (288046)

(2) what estimate his Department has made of the number of people who travelled from (a) London to Edinburgh, (b) London to Glasgow, (c) London to Manchester, (d) London to Aberdeen, (e) London to Newcastle, (f) Birmingham to Edinburgh, (g) Birmingham to Glasgow, (h) Bristol to Edinburgh, (i) Bristol to Glasgow, (j) Edinburgh to Manchester and (k) London to Newquay at least once in the last year for which information is available; and what estimate he has made of the number and proportion of such journeys undertaken by (i) rail, (ii) air and (iii) car in that period.

The Department for Transport’s only source of large-scale cross-modal travel data is the National Travel Survey (NTS). This can be used to provide broad estimates of the percentage modal share on major inter-region transport corridors, such as London to the West Midlands and London to the North-West, as shown in the following table:

Long distance journeys by mode, 2002-06


Between London and the North-West

Between London and the West Midlands




Surface Rail/LT Underground



Bus inc. private (hire) bus












However, the NTS sample size is insufficient to provide comparable data on the specific city-to-city routes listed in the question. Moreover, the NTS cannot provide robust estimates of total numbers of people travelling between specific cities in a given year, nor on the relative cost of different travel modes for a given journey. This information is therefore not available centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The calculation of average journey costs between pairs of cities is a complex area, requiring detailed knowledge of routes, the modes taken, the time of day of travel, etc. One flexible source for information is the Department’s Transport Direct website at:

It gives an indicative cost for a car journey between any two British postcodes, and offers the public transport costs as alternatives where possible.