Prince of Rails runs up big bill

Prince Charles steps off the Royal Train in Clitheroe
Prince Charles steps off the Royal Train in Clitheroe
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For Prince Charles, a lifelong champion of the countryside, his rural idyll in Lancashire and North Yorkshire in March was more pleasure than work.

But the two-day visit, when the heir to the throne let the train take the strain, turned out to be a rather costly affair for the taxpayer.

At £46,038, the trip from Windsor to Clitheroe, and then on to Settle and Harrogate, was the most expensive journey undertaken by the Royal Train in 2016-17, according to Palace accounts.

In all the visit to the North worked out at £95.32 a mile. Had the Prince taken a normal scheduled train, his ticket could have cost as little as £255, or roughly 50 pence a mile. The figures illustrate the high cost of using the Royal Train compared to travelling by road. But Palace sources say it is still the safest way to shuttle senior Royals to public engagements around the country.

“We believe that, though it’s not the cheapest way to travel, it does represent many of the features that we look for in terms of safety, security, not causing disruption to lots of other people, convenience and environmental aspects,” said one source. “It does mean that someone like the Queen can actually arrive first thing in the morning, rather than having to get up at some ungodly hour, and she can arrive rested, briefed and prepared.”

The Prince of Wales visited food producers in Clitheroe, BAE Systems at Samlesbury and cheesemakers in Garstang, before moving on to North Yorkshire - for more cheese - the following day.