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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.’

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