posted 5 years ago

Ex-School Mate Confronts Congestion Charge, Toll Roads and Eurostar

Stop the press. My old school friend wants to drive through central London.

Stop the press. My old school friend wants to drive through central London. He also plans to cruise across Wales via its famous toll bridge, then catch a Eurostar train to France. Pretty big news, ey? The problem is that his budget for this summertime road trip is only forty-seven pence. So, how can my former maths buddy minimise the expenditure?

His first potential saving is the London congestion charge, which costs between £9 - £12 per-day depending how - and when - it is paid. This can be reduced to zero by choosing the right vehicle. Options include cars that emit no more than 100g/km of CO2, and meet the Euro 5 standard for air quality. The VW Polo BlueMotion, Fiat 500 TwinAir, and Toyota IQ VVT-i spring to mind. Electric and plug-in hybrid machinery are also exempt.

Now, toll roads. It is easy to assume that my hard-up mate could save money by avoiding these eyebrow raising charges. This is not necessarily true. For example, it costs £5.70 to travel west-bound to Wales, on the Severn Bridge, in a normal car. The sensible alternative, for those travelling from the south, is to continue to Gloucester then towards Newport. This could add sixty miles to the trip, which burns a fair chunk of fuel and probably eliminates the toll road saving. That said, a case by case approach works best.

Money can also be saved on Eurostar train tickets. The trick here is to book as far in advance as possible. Secondly, the cheapest tickets are normally for non rush-hour services. So, on weekdays, aim for after 10:30 am and before 4pm. Travelling off-season between November and February can also be reasonably economical. Tickets can be purchased in various places, but the cheapest are often found at Eurostar's own website. Great, that sorts out money. All my friend needs now is permission from his wife.