Action for Rail: join the fight against inflation-busting rail fare rises!
Figures were released last week that show the average rail fare will go up by 3.9 per cent from January next year. This figure masks the more eye watering hikes you’ll see on some fares, including up to 6.5 per cent on some season tickets.
This represents the tenth straight year of inflation-busting rail fare rises. This at a time when household incomes continue to be squeezed by the weak growth in wages and government cuts to benefits.
In the New Year, commuters on many lines in the South East will be facing season tickets touching £5k. But it is not just isolated to the commuter belt around London. A season ticket from Ludlow to Hereford will be just shy of £2k, a jump of over 5 per cent.
Rail operators are keen to point out that fare increases largely go towards paying the increasing cost of running the rail. The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) claim just 3p in every £1 of fare revenue goes to train operator profit.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Much of the cost escalation in the industry driving fare rises is a result of the dysfunctional and fragmented system that privatisation brought about. Research by Transport for Quality of Life shows that £1.2bn a year is wasted on the various costs associated with privatisation, from rail company profits and dividend payments, to all the transaction costs, legal fees, duplication and waste that comes with it.
They calculate that eliminating this waste and investing that £1.2bn back into the industry could result in an 18 per cent fare cut across the board.
The government acknowledges that costs need to come down in the industry. Their solution? Let train operators have more freedom to cut services, close ticket offices, remove staff from trains and stations and have more say over how they can cut costs in critical safety work like maintenance and track renewal.
This blank cheque to the private train companies shows where the government’s priorities lie. Their craven approach to the train operators is shown by their refusal to consider alternatives to franchising despite the clear failings of the model. And why they were so keen to hand a very agreeable contract to Virgin to run West Coast for another two years.
Protest this Tuesday
If all of this makes you feel a bit miffed, we understand. That’s why you should come and join us in the Action for Rail campaign. You can start by joining our protests at over 50 different train stations across the UK on Tuesday 11 December.
Details for stations can be found at http://actionforrail.org/get-involved/
Come along, give out some of our Christmas cards to passengers and let your MP know that we’ve pretty much had enough of the way our railways are run. There is a different way and most of us want it.
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