Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Crack the Commuter Code -- and Get a Seat on the Train; Ruth Bloomfield Finds Four Good-Value Towns Offering Fast and Hassle-Free Journeys to London

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Crack the Commuter Code -- and Get a Seat on the Train; Ruth Bloomfield Finds Four Good-Value Towns Offering Fast and Hassle-Free Journeys to London

Article excerpt

Byline: Ruth Bloomfield

EUSTON is London's oldest railway terminus and, in its early days, trains were hauled by cable to Camden because nearby residents could not tolerate the steam trains' noise and smoke.

Today it is considered one of the capital's most vital hubs, with more than 30 million passengers passing through each year. And that number looks set to increase once HS2 arrives, making commuting much quicker.

There are 11 stations between Euston and Rugby that are within an hour's reach of London. We look at four.

RUGBY For commuters who don't want to relinquish urban life, the Warwickshire town of Rugby hits the sweet spot of being within an hour of the capital and having highly affordable house prices, according to a Savills report.

It has also seen decent price growth in the past year. The average property price stands at PS193,212, up 8.8 per cent in the past 12 months. An annual season ticket to Rugby costs PS5,640, and the journey to London takes 50 minutes.

Rugby is, of course, home to the eponymous independent school where the game was first played in 1823, but state education here is good, too.

A two-bedroom Victorian terrace house close to the train station would cost about PS130,000 to PS135,000, while six-bedroom, detached Victorian villas five to 10 minutes south of the station go for PS500,000-PS600,000.

Those looking for a lifestyle change should avoid the new builds on the perimeter and opt for pretty villages such as Dunchurch, which is only three miles south of the town centre.

BERKHAMSTED Affluent Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire has seen the strongest bounce back from the recession, with prices up 20.5 per cent since 2007 to an average of PS433,203. One of its key selling points is its commute -- a 30-minute journey into London, with an annual season ticket priced at PS3,676.

"Berkhamsted has got the whole package," says Nick Ingle, head of Savills in Harpenden.

"It offers a really fast commute -- and you get a seat on the train. Plus the High Street is historic and attractive. It has got a Waitrose, a huge M&S food hall and some lovely boutiques, restaurants and shops -- all the trappings for the London buyer."

Berkhamsted's appeal also extends to the vast countryside surrounding it, notably the National Trust's Ashridge Estate, a delight for walkers.

Property in the town centre is largely Victorian, and Ingle estimates that a two-bedroom cottage would cost about PS350,000 to PS400,000.

A four-bedroom house would be priced about PS750,000 and, on the outskirts, a five- to six-bedroom detached home -- either a Victorian pile or a contemporary trophy home -- would cost upwards of PS2 million.

MILTON KEYNES A recent report by property consultants CBRE named this post-war new town as one of the most buoyant locations in Britain. …

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