Environmental campaigners believe the increase in rail fares – which is set to go up 3.8 per cent starting from March – will push commuters back to using their cars.
“Transport is responsible for more carbon emissions than any other sector,” Paul Tuohy, Campaign for Better Transport’s chief executive, told the Sunday Telegraph.
“Considering the urgent need to act on climate change, the government should have frozen rail fares for 2022, just as fuel duty for car drivers has long been frozen. Instead, it is increasing fares by the highest percentage for eight years.”
Tuhoy’s statement follows the comments made by rail minister Wendy Morton, who admitted that “no specific assessment of environmental impacts” was made when the government gave the green light to the highest railway fare increase in a decade.
According to Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Olney, the government making a decision without taking into consideration its environmental impact was “shocking” while shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh told the Sunday Telegraph: “It is simply not credible to claim that a rail fare hike will do anything other than discourage rail travel.
“Ministers are insulting the intelligence of passengers, and increasingly making it up as they go along. After the lofty promises at Cop26, they’ve cut bus routes, hiked up fares and slashed grants for electric vehicles.”
Rail fares are on track to increase by more than a third by 2030, according to data from professional services firm GHD.
Tickets for Brighton to London will go up 36 per cent, while the route between Ipswich and Norwich will see a 50 per cent increase.
Last week, London mayor Sadiq Khan said the capital needs to slash its reliance on cars if it doesn’t want to face a crisis of “filthy air and gridlocked roads”, City A.M. reported.
The mayor has urged for “greener means of travel”, after London was crowned the world’s most congested city late year, according to traffic information supplier Inrix.