In the House of Commons recently, Jo called on the Secretary of State for Transport to help keep the costs of rail travel down to compete with domestic flights.
Last year, Jo signed the 10:10 pledge to cut her carbon emissions by 10% by the end of 2010. In order to achieve this, she has switched from air travel to train travel for her regular journeys between East Dunbartonshire and Westminster.
Jo highlighted the environmental threat posed by the increasing use of air travel as a means of getting around Britain. Although travelling by train creates a far smaller amount of greenhouse gas emissions, rising rail fares may put customers off.
The Minister responded by saying that the government’s proposed investment in a UK-wide high speed rail network would help to keep rail fares competitive.
Commenting, Jo said:
“The increased use of air travel in the UK, which is partly a result of the availability of cheap domestic flights, will have a significant impact on our environment. Air travel creates vastly more greenhouse gas emissions than train travel, and so we need to be encouraging people wherever possible to choose the greener option.
“For this reason I now make all my journeys from East Dunbartonshire to Westminster and back on the train, rather than flying.
“The coalition government’s commitment to invest in a nationwide high speed rail network is a crucial step in the right direction, which will help to keep cost of travelling by train competitive, and hopefully encourage more people to take the train instead of flying.”
The text of Jo’s question to the Minister for Transport appears below.
Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): I welcome the Government’s commitment to high speed rail, particularly to encourage people to use rail instead of domestic air travel. Given the rising cost of rail compared with flying, what will the Secretary of State do to get the price mechanism right in order to get this shift from air to rail?
Mr Philip Hammond: The High Speed 2 project will introduce a massive increase in capacity. These will be huge trains, with 1,100 seats each, and they will run at a very high frequency. Simple demand-and-supply economics should help to keep travel affordable. At the same time, after 2012, aviation will come within the European emissions trading scheme, and the carbon costs of aviation will start to be reflected in the cost of flying.