gb Gatwick Airport control tower

UK: A 50% cut in air passenger duty on domestic flights could result in 222 000 people switching from rail to air and an estimated 27 000 tonnes of extra carbon emissions, the Rail Delivery Group says in its response to the government’s consultation on aviation tax reform.

In its submission to the consultation, RDG calls on the government:

  • not to reduce APD where a journey can be made by rail in under 5 h;
  • to ‘level the playing field on transport taxes’, with RDG saying taxes now make up almost 40% of train operators’ traction electricity costs although ‘studies have shown that compared to other modes of transport air passengers pay a much smaller proportion of the climate costs associated with their travel’;
  • reform fares to provide a wider range of walk up prices and spread demand more evenly throughout the day;
  • study the impact of decreasing domestic APD on other transport modes and on climate change targets.

RDG said aviation has an important role where rail is not a realistic option, but that rail accounts for 10% of journeys but only 1% of emissions.

‘Rail companies support the government’s goal of enhancing connectivity across the UK to drive economic growth and want clean, green trains to be the mode of choice for as many travellers as possible’, said RDG Director of Nations & Regions Robert Nisbet. ’Choosing to go by train is one simple way people can help cut carbon emissions. It’s vital that government does not discourage people from making green choices about how to get from A to B by using the lever of taxes to make more polluting modes of transport even cheaper.’