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 are of concern to many people and that is why the Government has frozen increases in regulated rail fares in real terms for the past seven years. While there has been 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 considering a range of options as part of a "rail recovery" package aimed at getting passengers back on the network. I have ensured ministers are aware of the views raised on fares.
With regards to air travel, the Government, as part of its recent consultation on aviation tax, outlined its initial view that the effective rate of Air Passenger Duty (APD) on domestic flights should be reduced in order to support Union and regional connectivity, while the number of international distance bands should be increased in order to align APD more closely with the UK's ambitious environmental objectives.
The consultation sought evidence on the potential impacts of these proposals, including on regional air routes, and engaged with airports in all parts of the UK during the process. The Government is reviewing responses to the consultation and I look forward to an update in due course.
Frequent flyers already pay more under the APD system, but I welcome recent consultation on aviation tax reform and look forward to the outcome of this consultation. An additional frequent flier levy would be complex to administer, could be difficult to implement, would pose data processing and privacy concerns, and could prove unfair for those with an essential need to fly frequently. I think it is therefore sensible to keep any changes within the context of the existing APD system.