Thanks to everyone who joined us for our protest against the New Year train fare rises outside Huddersfield train station.
We had a great turn out including trade unionists, environmentalists and three Green Party councillors plus a parliamentary candidate!
We asked evening rush hour commuters to support our call for returning the train system to public ownership. We gave out Action for Rail leaflets and asked people to sign Action for Rail postcards supporting the campaign.
The event was part of a co-ordinated day of action with forty stations across the country being leafleted. It was supported by numerous campaigns calling for public ownership of the railways, including ‘Action for Rail’. Many of the protests across the country brought together train users, trade unions and environmentalists.
On January 2nd fare rises of 2.2% were introduced. Since 2010 train fares have increased by 27%.Fares are rising two times faster than wages. The UK’s train fares are the most expensive in Europe.
“Rail privatisation has become characterised by poor services, cramped trains and extortionate fares. It’s ripping off passengers, harming the economy and failing the environment.” Caroline Lucas MP
“This year’s fare hike will hit passengers particularly hard because wages are rising so slowly.Rail fares are now consuming a huge proportion of people’s wages, leaving precious little for other bread and butter expenses. On average passengers are now paying £600 more for a season ticket and yet seeing no change in their pay packets.” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/02/commuters-hit-by-rush-hour-chaos-as-rail-fare-increases-kick-in
We believe that private ownership of rail companies and the network is not in the public good and is costly to the train user. In 2012-13 £4 billion of investment came from tax payers. In the same period train companies paid out over £200 million in dividends to shareholders.
Research suggests that the costs of privatisation have been more than £11bn of public funds. If all unnecessary costs were eliminated, the resultant saving could be used to reduce fares. This would equate to a cut in fares of 18%.
Public ownership of the railways is popular and would solve many of its problems. 66% of people in the UK support public ownership of the rail companies and network according to a YouGov poll. Publicly owned East Coast Mainline has returned £1bn to government since 2009. Likewise, in Europe, between 80 and 100% of passenger train services are provided by the public sector.
This week Caroline Lucas’ bill calling for the public ownership of the rail system will have its Second Reading in parliament. You can read more about this here
Please contact your MP asking them to oppose the fare rise and to support the public ownership of the railways. You can do this here http://campaign.actionforrail.org/page/speakout/all-on-board-for-public-ownership
The challenge of climate change means that we need more people and freight travelling by train because its carbon footprint is significantly lower than car and lorry.
Publicly owned rail would allow for lower fares –making it an affordable alternative to the car- and for governments to co-ordinate transport more effectively because it would be run for the public good and not to deliver maximum profits for shareholders.
For more information about our ECO-nomy campaign and the role of rail campaigning within it, please see https://kirkleescampaignagainstclimatechange.wordpress.com/campaigns/
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