Can you Commute from Brighton to London? A Practical 2021 Guide

  • By: Carlo
  • Date: June 27, 2021
  • Time to read: 7 min.

So, You got a job in the big smoke (London) but don’t want to live there? Could living in Brighton be a feasible alternative? Here we will look into travel options, travel times and pricing.

Can you commute from Brighton to London? Brighton is the nearest coastal city to London and the easiest to commute to and from. Every day this journey is made by approximately

  • 355 trains
  • 10 National Express coaches
  • and thousands of vehicles drive this 53.4-mile journey

But the real question is, Which is the best way of doing it? and what are the advantages and disadvantages of these different ways to make this journey? In this article, we will be comparing taking the train, the coach and travelling with your own vehicle.

Based on some basic categories such as time of travel, frequency of train lines (where applicable), prices/expenses and convenience. We will also try to predict some of the unexpected factors that can mess up your commute, with all the previous parameters and cause extra costs or delays in your trip.

So, let’s find out

Travelling by Train

The train is probably the easiest and most logical method of commuting to and from London, and the best way to go for the majority of commuters.

Time of travel: Travelling by train is undoubtedly the fastest way, since it can take less than an hour to bring you from Brighton to London Victoria in peak times on the (in most cases), and under 1h 30m in off-peak times. Win for trains here.

Frequency: Another benefit of catching the train is that it has by far the most extensive schedule and variety of lines, making it also the most flexible way of travelling. Trains in peak hours can show up around six times per hour. So, no extreme rush in catching your train is needed.

Price: Well, this isn’t the railway system’s strongest point, Train-cards can be purchased individually, as a return ticket, where a very slight discount is given. But greater discounts are given if you buy a weekly, monthly or even yearly train card and provide you with unlimited travels overall lines and companies.

Travel-Cards Price
On-Peak Day return£53.50
Weekly£102.30
Monthly£393,90
Annually£4.092

Convenience: as far as the convenience of the travel is concerned trains score high. Even in rush hours, one is likely to find a seat and since Brighton, as well as London Victoria, are jumping-off points the chances are even higher. Furthermore, the classic British landscape that you are going to encounter during the trip will clear your mind after a long day at work. (yes, some people value that highly)

Uncalculated factors: delays were commonplace as I remember, especially in the autumn and winter when you least want to be standing on a dark, windy and rainy train platform, just wanting to get back to the warm comfort of home.

Bonus: Most trains between Brighton and London do have mains sockets at easy reach from most seats. This means you can easily charge your phone or plug in your laptop during your journey. Be warned 4G and mobile telephone reception is pretty bad along this train line.

Was £3.49 – Now Only £1.79

Travelling by Coach

We are looking at all commuting options, and so I feel I must mention coaches. But really taking a coach is not a feasible option, simply because of the time it takes.

The main reason why it isn’t people’s first option when it comes to commuting is mainly the duration of the trip. It frankly feels endless. The National Express website discreetly conceals it by stating the minimum travel time, instead of the average one, but when you actually search for a trip the travel time results can vary quite dramatically.

Time
Direct Route 2h 20m  up to 3h 05m
With stops 3h 30m

This would amount to around 6 hours a day commuting. Let’s hope its to a job you love, as that would mean 30 hours a week and a whopping 120 hours a month. on a coach, which Ι don’t think is an amount of time that anybody would be willing to sacrifice.

Frequency: the typical frequency of the couches to London is once an hour, which is a lot more restrictive than the trains’ extensive schedule. You will have to carefully plan your trips and make sure not to miss your bus or you’ll have a lot of waiting to do. Buses can only be efficient when working supplementary to the train operation. Let’s say when you had a couple of drinks after work and missed the last train which comes around 1 am. (since there are some buses doing the distance after midnight)

Price: The price of taking the bus is quite reasonable. Τhe paying method though can be a pain, since there is no such thing as a travelcard in the sense that exists for the railway system (there are travelcards for kids, seniors, and people with disabilities though) and the tickets must be paid every time you travel. The cheapest one to go is £7.60 in the morning and £4.20 in the noon and calculated 5 times per week, it reaches the amount of £236 per month and £2382 annually. This is of course significantly less as the train’s annual ticket.

Convenience: as far as the convenience is concerned, the National Express coaches win extra points that (partly) compensate for the long-hours travel. The buses feel very new and modern, they provide functioning wi-fi and most importantly individual USB hubs behind each seat which can be a valuable advantage.

Uncalculated factor: the traffic, the omnipresent torture of the UK. Especially in peak hours, you can find yourself trapped in the m25 motorway, constantly starting and stopping, which can leave you nauseated and frustrated after a while.

Accidents. They are not nearly as uncommon than you might have thought. Even minor accidents cause frequent and significant delays which intensify the already existent traffic and congestion.

Travelling by Car

Oh! the beautiful freedom of a car, who doesn’t want to be completely independent and not to be restricted by the trains’ and buses’ schedules? Going by car has indeed a lot of worth-mentioning benefits. (Like you are guaranteed a seat, unlike the trains)

Time of travel: The car stands somewhere in the middle between the train and coach travel time. The average time of travel is 1h30m to 2h taking the A23 M23 motorway and simply following the road though Croydon.

Frequency: Whenever you want, a car completely eradicates this category making it the absolute winner in it.

Convenience: Car scores high to this category too, since going on your own, playing your music and having your preferred temperature is an invaluable luxury.

Price: This is where things get a little complicated with a car, since there are many cost elements needed to calculate this. eg

  • Fuel
  • Road Tax
  • car Insurance
  • Parking Permit (for home if needed)
  • Parking in London (if applicable)
  • Annual MOT
  • Maintenance
Was £3.49 – Now Only £1.79

So, price-wise having a fuel-efficient car can cost you less than taking the train annually. For example, the Citroen C2 averagely cost is estimated to be £3,745.60 a year and thus less than a train.

Having a more powerful car though can skyrocket the amount. Eventually, one must calculate there own car’s expenses and needs.

Uncalculated factors: once more: traffic and accidents, causing major distress and delays. the traffic congestion in London its heavy at the best of times. In the rush hours it seems that only the cycle couriers (with there shortened handlebars) are the ones that make any distance.

Parking falls also in this category. Street parking in London is mostly restricted during rush hours and the odds are there will not be an available space anyway, well not one you can rely on on a daily bases.

This means you would have to use a private parking lot instead, and the costs of these spaces can vary in price. An average 8-hour stay could be from £8 to £27.95 per day, provided that you have booked your parking space in advance. otherwise you may not find any available spaces here either.

You have a general idea now as to the pros and cons of these different modes of transport, here below is a little chart where it is laid out a little more clearly.

  Time of travel Frequency of lines Convenience Price Uncalculated Factors
Train Min: 50m Max: 1.20 m Extremely High High £4.092 (fixed) Delays, Cancelled lines
Coach Min: 1h55m Max: 3h30 m Low but sufficient High £2382 (estimated) Traffic, Accidents
Car Min: 1h30m Max: 3h20m Extremely High £3,745 (estimated) Traffic, Accidents, Parking

Conclusion

So a coach may be cheaper but will take way to long. A car may give you more flexibility and be cost affective, but there is always the risk your jouney could be delayed by endless traffic and then having finding an avalible parking space.

So that leaves the train, as the best option to commuting to and from London. So get your annual ticket and don’t forget your laptop, phone charger and a good audiobook and you are good to go.

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