<p>Andy Burnham</p>

Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham claims Manchester-Jamaica flights cheaper than train to London

The Independent has been unable to replicate any of the air fares quoted by the mayor for immediate departure

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 22 April 2022 11:30
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The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has triggered a furious reaction from supporters of the rail industry after posting a tweet comparing the top-price ticket from Manchester to London with a range of long-haul air fares.

He tweeted: “Return tickets from Manchester:

  • India: £343
  • Jamaica: £345
  • Brazil: £325
  • Ivory Coast: £319
  • London (rail): £369”

The highest Anytime return fare on Avanti West Coast between the two cities is £369.40, and applies during morning peak hours, as well as afternoon peak hours from London, from Monday to Thursday. At other times the Off-peak fare of £98.10 covers the journey.

Some people responded to Mr Burnham with assertions of even higher fares. Helen (@hjmac41) tweeted: “Paid £450 at the weekend and there was standing room only.”

The dates for which the air fares quoted by the mayor were obtained are unclear. Unlike the rail ticket, they are not completely flexible and do not allow unlimited stopovers.

The Independent has asked Mr Burnham for more details. Meanwhile we have priced the cheapest flights to the chosen countries, together with the most expensive Advance rail tickets for Monday 25 April..

The lowest one-stop return fares from Manchester are:

  • India: Mumbai via Abu Dhabi £607
  • Jamaica: Montego Bay via Atlanta £1,080
  • Brazil: Rio via Lisbon: £1,599
  • Ivory Coast: Abidjan via Brussels: £901
  • London: £334, though railcard holders would pay £220

Mark Smith, the international rail travel guru known as The Man In Seat 61, said: “Sigh. The usual story.  They’re all cheap limited-availability advance-purchase fares except the rail one which is of course the fully flexible and refundable, unlimited availability good-for-any-train business fare for business people for when the company is paying.”

Another Twitter user responded to Mr Burnham saying: “PM and government are using misleading statements almost every day, the mayor should do better.”

A much cheaper, fully flexible, walk-up fare is available at all times for people who are prepared to change trains in Crewe and combine an Avanti West Coast train with a slower London Northwestern service. The highest possible fare is £155.

The Independent has requested responses from the Department for Transport (DfT), which sets many ticket prices, and the Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators.

British Airways’ cheapest return fare from Manchester to London Heathrow on Monday is £398, hand baggage only.

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