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Government urged to promote the train to avoid a summer of traffic jams and air pollution as 2.3m cars take to the roads

23 July 2021

On the day that 2.3 million car trips are expected to take place, Campaign for Better Transport is calling on the Government to help prevent a summer of traffic jams and air pollution by encouraging more people to take the train.

Good weather and the start of the school holidays is expected to increase delays on the roads by 29 per cent today (23 July) as millions of people jump into their cars to start their staycations.

But as part of its The Way Forward is public transport campaign, the charity is urging Ministers to make it easier and cheaper for holidaymakers and tourists to travel by train in future to help reduce congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions.

Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “With a permanent move to homeworking for many people, leisure travellers could soon outnumber rail commuters. As the Government looks to promote greener travel to help tackle climate change it needs to create a modern railway that takes advantage of this new market. But to encourage more people to choose the train for leisure trips we need to see an end to swathes of the network closed for weekend engineering works, better storage for bikes and luggage, and tickets that are cheaper than flying or driving.”

To encourage more people to choose the train for leisure trips, Campaign for Better Transport is calling for:

  • The cost of a return train journey to be cheaper than the equivalent domestic flight
  • More services to connect to popular attractions and tourist destinations
  • Better onboard facilities including more space for luggage and bikes
  • Changes to the way engineering works are scheduled to avoid disruption during busy holiday periods
  • Rail timetables and services that adapt to changing travel patterns post-Covid.

Alongside swapping to cleaner fuels, increasing public transport use is a key component of the Government’s plans to reduce carbon emissions from transport and help it reach net zero by 2050. With recent figures suggesting traffic levels could soar this summer as more people choose to holiday in the UK, Campaign for Better Transport is urging the Government to do more to promote rail travel.

Mr Tuohy added: “If the Government is serious about its environmental ambitions, it should make it easier and cheaper for people to make greener transport choices.”

ENDS

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. The RAC is predicting ‘a perfect storm’ on Friday 23 July as good weather and the start of the school holidays will see 2.3 million car journeys and a 29 per cent increase in delays on UK roads.
  2. The Way Forward campaign is calling on the Government to support public transport by actively encouraging people to use buses, trains, coaches and trams and introducing an incentive scheme to help boost passenger numbers as part of a national plan to place public transport at the heart of a green recovery. For more information see: www.the-way-forward.org
  3. Transport is now the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 28 per cent of domestic emissions. Cars are the main contributor (55 per cent), followed by lorries and vans (32 per cent), while public transport accounts for less than five per cent. (Department for Transport (2019), Table ENV0201 (TSGB0306): Greenhouse gas emissions by transport mode: United Kingdom, 1990-2017)
  4. Driving in a medium petrol car with one occupant produces more than four 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)
  5. Taking a domestic flight produces more than six times as much greenhouse gas per passenger kilometre as travelling by rail (Includes increased warming from aviation emissions at altitude) (Source: Our World in Data using the BEIS/DEFRA Greenhouse gas reporting conversion factors 2019)
  6. The Government’s recent Decarbonising Transport Plan identifies ‘Accelerating modal shift to public and active transport’ as its number one strategic priority. 
  7. RAC forecasts ‘unprecedented summer’ on the UK’s roads with 16m staycations planned during school summer holidays alone
  8. Network Rail chair says weekend engineering works may soon end (The Guardian, 25 February 2021)
  9. 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).