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Transport charity calls on the Chancellor to end to fuel duty freeze as rail fares go up

27 February 2021

Commenting on the fact that rail fares will rise by 2.6 per cent on Monday, Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said:

"Monday's fare rise will directly affect millions of people's plans to return to workplaces in the coming months. For those planning to return part time, this increase, coupled with the lack of flexible commuter tickets, could mean they choose to work from home instead, further delaying the economic recovery.  

"If we want to see people returning to workplaces post Covid, without increasing congestion and air pollution in our towns and cities, we need to attract commuters back to the railways. A fare rise won't do this, but more flexible rail tickets that allow people to travel just part of the week and an end to the freeze on fuel duty in Wednesday’s Budget will help to encourage more people to choose the train when the time is right.  

"The Government must begin to rebalance the cost of transport and put in place measures now that will help people to leave their cars at home and attract them back to public transport in the future."

ENDS

For further information please contact the press office on 020 3746 2235 or communications@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

See examples of 2021 season tickets costs for people travelling into London stations.

See examples of 2021 season ticket costs for people travelling into regional stations.

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.

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.

Currently, if you commute fewer than five days a week you can choose to buy a season ticket and lose money on the days you don't use it or buy expensive day return tickets. Campaign for Better Transport has called for flexible season tickets for part-time commuters for many years. The number of people working part time and flexibly has been trending upwards for years, even before the pandemic. In 2019, around 1.7 million people worked mainly from home, and a further four million said they worked from home at least part of the week, with 40 per cent of women in employment working part time. The number of people commuting part time is set to increase with more employers offering home working options; 39 per cent of workers hope to split their time between the workplace and home post-Covid.

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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