Posted 15th June 2021 | 3 Comments

Train operators protest at prospect of air duty cuts

TRAIN operators are protesting over a government proposal to reduce Air Passenger Duty on domestic flights.

The idea forms part of the government’s consultation on aviation tax reform.

The Rail Delivery Group says its research shows that a 50 per cent cut in the duty could result in 222,000 fewer rail journeys a year if more people chose to fly. It would be equivalent to an extra 1,000 flights each year, and the RDG has estimated that these flights would result in 27,000 tonnes of extra carbon emissions.

It is calling on the government to make rail ‘the mode of choice’ for long distance journeys under five hours by not reducing APD where a journey can be made by rail in that time.

It also wants to change transport taxes so that travellers are encouraged to use greener modes. It pointed out that taxes now make up almost 40 per cent of the total electricity costs for train operators, 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 journeys.

The RDG has again repeated its call for simpler fares, so that passengers have a wider range of ‘walk up’ fares from which they can choose, and it also wants the effect of reducing the ADP to be examined in detail by a special study.

The RDG’s director of nations and regions Robert Nisbet said: ‘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.’

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • strawbrick, Watford

    In calling for the "rail industry ... (to) sort out the current pathetic tunnel-monopoly, Steve seems to have forgotten that both the tunnel and the trains are owned by private companies who are free to charge the users whatever they wish. It's called privatisation!
    [Eurostar has not had a monopoly since 2010, when international open access started. DB considered London services, but so far Eurostar has remained in sole possession, alongside Eurotunnel's Shuttles.--Ed.]

  • Jez Milton, Manchester

    Of course it is ludicrous to cut APD if we're serious about climate change. In fact, what's needed is a tax on frequent flyers that ramps up sharply with each outward flight per year.

    This nonsense idea - that will clearly hurt the railway and worsen the redundancies ahead - came from Network Rail's wonderful chairman, Hendy, did it not?!

  • Steve Alston, Crewe

    APD *should* be cut to revitalise the airline industry which has had almost zero support during Covid, unlike those heavily state funded & soon to depart RDG 'members' which will become no more than contract operators next year.

    Longer term, if the rail industry wants to be taken seriously, they will sort out the current pathetic tunnel-monopoly and ensure proper competition replaces the pathetic current firm which has priced 90-95% of shorthaul passengers onto planes for nearly 20 years - with many trains running 30% full or less - one Saturday in 2019 - £230 a Eurostar ticket vs £74 for Easyjet? Eurostar train left with just a handful of people on.