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Campaign for Better Transport responds to rail fare rise

17 December 2021

Reacting to the announcement that regulated rail fares will rise by 3.8 per cent in March, Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said:

"This fare rise is far from fair. Rail fares should have been frozen to match the fuel duty freeze for car drivers. If the Government is serious about shrinking transport's carbon footprint it should make rail the affordable choice. Instead, it is asking some commuters to pay hundreds of pounds more for their season tickets, which risks driving people off rail and onto roads instead."

After the fare rise, the average full-time worker commuting from Brighton into London will have to work for seven weeks just to pay for their annual season ticket. A commuter from York into Leeds will have to work for five weeks, while a commuter from Burton on Trent into Birmingham will have to work for six weeks.

Transport is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector. While rail fares have risen at or above inflation, fuel duty for drivers has been frozen for more than a decade, despite the fact that driving produces more than four times as much greenhouse gas as travelling by rail. Campaign for Better Transport has called for a rail fare freeze to match the fuel duty freeze, to encourage more people to choose rail and to tackle climate change.


For further information please contact the press office on 07984 773 468 (calls only no texts) or 

Notes to Editors

See examples of season tickets costs for people travelling into London stations
See examples of season ticket costs for people travelling into regional stations

1. Regulated rail fares, including season tickets on most commuter journeys, some Off-Peak return tickets on long distance journeys and Anytime tickets around major cities, make up almost half (45 per cent) of all fares and increases are set by the Government. In recent years, fares have risen each year by either RPI or RPI+1%, based on the previous July's RPI figure. In 2022, fares will rise by RPI.

2. Fuel duty for drivers has been frozen for more than a decade. It is estimated that the fuel duty freeze has led to five per cent more traffic, 250 million fewer bus journeys, 75 million fewer rail journeys, an extra five million tonnes of CO2 and an extra 15,000 tonnes of NOx emissions. The freeze has also cost the Treasury more than £50 billion in foregone revenue, which could have been invested in sustainable transport options and other carbon reduction measures.

3. There is evidence to suggest that a rise in rail fares leads to a reduction in passenger numbers. A 2003 report by ITS Leeds found that for suburban rail, a fare increase of five per cent leads to a three per cent reduction in patronage, and for inter-urban rail a fare increase of five per cent leads to a 4.5 per cent reduction in patronage. This calculation was done at a time when commuters were a very large proportion of rail travellers and were a fairly captive market. Since widespread working from home has become established during the pandemic, commuter journeys are now much more discretionary, on a par with leisure travel. Hence fare increases will lead to an even larger reduction in patronage.

4. Transport is now the biggest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for 27% of all domestic GHG, but different vehicles make different contributions to this. Collectively, cars are the main contributor of GHG (55 per cent), followed by lorries and vans (32 per cent), while buses, coaches and rail collectively account for just four per cent. (Department for Transport, 2019, Table ENV0201)

5. Driving in a medium petrol car with one occupant produces more than 4 times as much greenhouse gas emissions per passenger kilometre as travelling by rail. (Most cars have only one occupant) (Source: Our World in Data using the BEIS/DEFRA Greenhouse gas reporting conversion factors 2019)

6. How long people will have to work to pay for their season ticket was calculated using the 2021 median gross annual earnings for full-time employees by region from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE). We divided the season ticket cost by daily salary.

7. Campaign for Better Transport operates in England and Wales. Campaign for Better Transport's vision is for all communities to have access to high quality, sustainable transport that meets their needs, improves quality of life and protects the environment. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929). 

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