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Charity calls for festive rail discounts to boost high street spending and reduce carbon emissions

02 December 2021

Campaign for Better Transport is calling for the Government to introduce a seasonal rail ticket offer to help more people travel sustainably into our towns and cities during the festive period and help boost high street spending in the run up to Christmas.

Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “People are going to be travelling into towns and cities to do their Christmas shopping and celebrating over the coming weeks and we want them to do so in a safe and green way. To spread a bit of festive cheer this year and help ensure trains aren’t overcrowded, the Government should give rail passengers an early Christmas present with a discount ticket offer so that people have more choice about how and when they travel. Not only will this help reduce congestion and air pollution in our towns and cities during the festive period it will also give a much-needed boost to high street shops, hospitality venues and leisure services.”

With road traffic responsible for more than half of carbon emissions from transport, reducing unnecessary car trips is crucial to tackling climate change. But with traffic levels rising and set to increase further, and public transport journeys yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, Campaign for Better Transport is warning that without Government intervention carbon emissions will rise as people drive more. The charity is calling on the Government to do more to promote rail as the greener transport choice to help reduce traffic levels and offer people a viable alternative to their cars. It wants to see financial incentives introduced to make rail travel more affordable with temporary ticket offers - including a festive ticket offer, a third off season tickets for a limited time to encourage more people to commute by rail and a rail fare freeze for 2022 – along with more long-term reform of the fares and ticketing system to ensure that the greenest modes of travel are also the cheapest.


For further information please contact the press office on 07984 773 468 (calls only no texts) or communications@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  1. Regulated rail fares, including season tickets and standard returns, make up almost half (45 per cent) of all fares and increases are set by the Government. Since 2014, fare increases have been capped at the previous July’s Retail Price Index (RPI) figure and come into effect each January. This year the Government delayed the fare rise until March 1 and returned to the RPI+1% formula.
  2. While rail and bus fares have continued rising, the fuel duty freeze has made car journeys progressively cheaper, meaning that government has been subsidising the real cost of car ownership. 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.
  4. Only four per cent of carbon emissions come from public transport (buses, coaches and rail).
  5. Transport is now the biggest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for 28% 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 less than five per cent. (Department for Transport (2019), Table ENV0201 (TSGB0306): Greenhouse gas emissions by transport mode: United Kingdom, 1990-2017)
  6. 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)
  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).