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Trains fares could be frozen using extra tax on fuel for domestic flights

The government should subsidise rail fares through a tax on domestic flights, a pressure group has said.

The Campaign for Better Transport is calling for a rail fare freeze in 2023 which will be funded through a tax on kerosene on domestic flights which is set at the same rate as petrol and diesel for car drivers.

The body said the move would also help to cut carbon emissions from domestic aviation and raise £1.53bn, enough to fund a rail fare freeze to encourage more people to travel by rail.

The government is due to announce an increase to rail fares tomorrow which is traditionally in line with the Retail Price Index (RPI). But with June’s RPI hitting highs of 11.8 per cent, the Department for Transport (DfT) has said next year’s rise in fares will be delayed until March and will be lower than the RPI figure

Nevertheless, whilst ministers have ruled out a double-digit fare rise next year, it is still unclear how much fares will go up.

Paul Tuohy, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “It’s absurd that the government chooses to place no tax on aviation fuel, yet heavily taxes petrol and diesel for drivers.

“Taxing kerosene would help reduce domestic flights and save carbon, and the money raised could pay for a rail fare freeze next year to make the trains cheaper and encourage more people to use them.”

With 13 per cent of all UK flights starting and finishing in the UK, the charity is calling for more to be done to reduce domestic aviation.

As well as a kerosene tax, the charity wants at least of half of domestic flights to switch to rail by making train tickets cheaper in order to compete with budget airfares.

The Liberal Democrats have also called for a freeze on rail fares and has joined Labour in saying that the energy price cap should not be increased beyond its current level.

The party said the “double bill freeze” would directly combat a worsening economic outlook, saving families £2,000 on average – £1,400 a year from scrapping the energy price cap rise and £600 by freezing rail prices.

Sarah Olney, the party’s treasury spokesperson, accused Tory leadership contenders Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak of being “out of touch and out of ideas”.

“Their half-baked plans to get people through the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation are pitiful and barely scratch the surface.

“Britain is faced with a looming economic crisis which requires bold action to save families and pensioners on the brink. This month sees the double whammy of new energy and rail prices both being announced all whilst we have a zombie Government in Westminster.

“There is not a second to lose to save Britain from this crisis. Now is the time to freeze bills before it’s too late.”

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