Following the government announcing it plans to increase rail fares by less than the rate of inflation and will delay fare increases until March 2024, Green Party co-leader and parliamentary candidate for Bristol Central, Carla Denyer, has called on the government to go further and freeze rail fares for at least the next year.
Contrasting year on year rail fare rises with the freeze in fuel duty for drivers and cuts to air passenger duty for domestic flights, Carla has urged the government to flip its priorities and ensure that rail passengers are not penalised for using a more sustainable form of transport.
“Today, I am urging the government to come forward with a plan to freeze rail fares, helping to address both the cost of living crisis and the climate emergency.
“Here in Bristol, the congestion and air pollution in the city and expansion of Bristol airport are all symptoms of the government’s failure to prioritise public transport and active travel over road and air. Bristol is ideally placed for a boom in rail travel and we are finally on track for new stations. But they are late coming on line, and we still need more frequent and reliable services and cheaper fares to really speed up the switch from road to rail.
“UK rail passengers are faced with some of the most expensive train tickets in Europe, and the government continues to make it worse. Fuel duty has been frozen since 2011, while air passenger duty cuts this year will only encourage people to fly more. In the current climate, it doesn’t make any sense that Brits are paying more to travel by train than by plane.
“For example, a walk-on single train fare today from Bristol to Edinburgh costs between £140 and £200 whilst you could fly from Bristol airport to Edinburgh with a same day booking for £95 [prices recorded at time of writing]. Plane journeys like this emit twice the CO2 on average compared to traveling by train.
“Emissions from transport are higher than for any other sector of the economy. If the UK is to meet its climate commitments, then the government must make trains an affordable and attractive alternative to cars and planes, and ensure commuters have easy access to public transport and active travel to get to work.
“The Green alternative is common sense – make train travel affordable, reliable, accessible and easy. The best way to achieve this is to bring the whole rail system into public ownership, ensuring it is always cheaper than the equivalent route by air or road, and encouraging more freight onto rail.
“It’s a win-win, benefitting our communities and tackling the climate crisis.”