Adrian Ramsay speaking at Green Party Conference

The Green Party of England and Wales has called for rail fares to be frozen on the day the government has announced that regulated fares will increase in January 2024.

The government has not yet said what the rise will be, but that it will be below the measure of inflation typically used for annual fare increases. Historically regulated fares have increased at a rate of the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 1%. RPI was at 10.7% in June.

Comparing rail fare rises in previous years to the freeze in fuel duty for drivers and cuts to air passenger duty for domestic flights, the party’s co-leader Adrian Ramsay has urged the government to ensure that rail passengers are not penalised for using a more sustainable form of transport. Recent research suggests train travel is 35% more expensive than flying, despite the fact that plane journeys on average emit twice the C02 on average (118% more) compared to travelling by train, while fuel duty is frozen.

Ramsay said: “This government is moving in completely the wrong direction. Fuel duty has been frozen since 2011, while air passenger duty cuts this year will be a disaster for the climate crisis by encouraging people to fly more. This is despite the fact UK rail passengers are already paying more to travel by train than flying and are faced with some of the most expensive tickets in Europe.

“Emissions from transport are higher than for any other sector of the economy. If the UK is to meet its climate commitments, then we need more people choosing trains over cars and planes, and we need more commuters opting for public transport and active travel to get to work. Making train travel more expensive, while closing rail ticket offices that support travellers to get the best deal, would underscore the government’s contempt for climate action and the travelling public.

“Pushing up prices at all would make it harder for hard-pressed travellers to make the right decision for pocket and planet. That is why I am urging the government to come forward with a plan today which will freeze rail fares. This would help address the cost of living crisis while helping to tackle the climate emergency.”

Beyond the immediate demand for a freeze on rail fares, the Green Party has long supported a radical overhaul of the rail system. The Greens support ending the thirty year experiment of privatisation and want to see the railways brought into public ownership.

Ramsay said: “The Green alternative to the continued rundown of our railways is clear – make train travel affordable, safe and easy. That means bringing the whole rail system into public ownership, making sure it is always cheaper than the equivalent route by air or road, and encouraging more freight onto rail. That’s a win-win for the public and tackling the climate crisis.”

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