Thank you for contacting me.
Currently, some fares are regulated by the Government, which controls their price, while others are not, as train operators are free to set them on a commercial basis. Around 45 per cent of rail fares are ‘regulated', with increases directly influenced by Government policy. This includes season tickets on most commuter journeys, some Off-Peak return tickets on long distance journeys and Anytime tickets around major cities.
Train fare revenue is crucial to funding day-to-day railway operations and rail investment, which benefits passengers. For instance, rail operators have been investing in more trains, better stations and faster journeys. Any rise in rail fares helps to allow this to be maintained.
Nevertheless, I appreciate that fare prices may be of concern to some people and that is why the Government has frozen increases in regulated rail fares in real terms for the past seven years. While there is currently some press speculation around rail fare increases for 2022, I understand the Government has not yet made a decision on ticket price increases. Indeed, the Department for Transport is currently considering a range of options as part of a "rail recovery" package aimed at getting passengers back on the network.
I welcome that the Government also recently proposed the biggest change to the railways in 25 years, bringing the network under single national leadership. A new public body, Great British Railways, will own the infrastructure, receive the fare revenue, run and plan the network and set most fares and timetables. Reforms will also include a simplified ticketing system, including the rollout of new flexible season tickets to reflect new working and travel patterns, as well as making significant roll-outs of pay as you go, contactless ticketing and digital ticketing on smartphones.
In the meantime, it may also be useful to know that there is already a number of concessionary travel schemes available – in particular, two new railcards for young people are on sale and the Government has just brought in a Veterans’ railcard. More details on these can be found at the following link:
The UK has set a legally binding target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. I am clear that aviation must play its part, which is why I welcome the Government's ambition that UK domestic aviation will be net zero by 2040. This target is supplemented by a further ambition that net zero aviation emissions will be possible by 2050.
To support these targets, I am aware that the Government is investing match-funding in the development of new and zero carbon aircraft technology and zero emission flight infrastructure. In 2021/22, Ministers are also investing £3 million in the Zero Emission Flight infrastructure competition to accelerate research and development, while new powers are being created to ensure that airports modernise their airspace. Modernising flight paths can reduce CO2 emissions from aviation and reduce noise for those near flightpaths.
I also welcome a commitment to accelerate the commercialisation of UK sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). To this end, I know it is the ambition of government to enable delivery of 10 per cent SAF by 2030. To enable this, £180 million is being invested in the development of SAF plants.
Action is clearly needed at a global level too, which is why I welcome the UK's participation in the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP