The Government’s plan for tackling nitrogen dioxide concentrations, which was published in July, sets out a number of steps backed with £3 billion of investment in air quality and cleaner transport. These include the tough new real-world emissions tests for new models of diesel and petrol cars.
As the hon. Gentleman knows, we have published the clean air plan and we are working very closely with local authorities regarding clean air zones. There is also a wider duty on local authorities that are not specifically part of the zones themselves to bear air quality in mind, and we also support them through the Department.
Encouraging the use of public transport is key to tackling air pollution. Does the Minister accept that the increase in rail fares at twice the rate of wages since 2010, and the decreased use of buses while the Conservatives have been in office, have made air quality worse?
The hon. Gentleman is correct about the importance of buses. Only yesterday, I met the chief executive of Go-Ahead buses, which is very active around the country, and we specifically discussed that matter. I have held such discussions with other operators and will continue to do so in the coming months. We also considered retrofitting and improving passenger numbers.
Does the Minister agree that one of the ways to reduce emissions is to encourage rail travel, but that one of the barriers to that is poor service. Travellers from West Yorkshire using Virgin are experiencing increasingly poor service due to staff shortages, and there is a suspicion that Virgin is cutting back so that it can increase profits. What are the Government doing to hold train operating companies to account?
I can only admire the hon. Lady’s ingenuity in crowbarring a point about Virgin rail into a question about road transport emissions. Obviously the rail Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool North and Cleveleys (Paul Maynard), is better placed to answer that, but let me draw her attention to the work that we are doing through the cycling and walking investment strategy on improving the links between rail and cycling.9