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Don’t price us off the trains – the government must halt this unfair fares hike

As part of their austerity cuts, the government is planning to raise rail fares by 28% by 2015.

As part of their austerity cuts, the government is planning to raise rail fares by 28% by 2015.

Such massive fare increases will be a disaster for people already struggling with rising costs and frozen wages. Some people are now being forced to pay out a staggering one-fifth of the average UK salary for their season tickets, and come next January, rail fares will rise four times faster than average earnings. People are already being forced to make difficult choices between getting to work and other vital expenses, with low-paid workers particularly hard hit. Instead of managing the railways as an essential public service, open to everyone, trains are in danger of becoming a luxury affordable only to the rich.

Government figures show that the planned fare increases from 2012 are likely to result in fewer people using the train. Some will simply be priced out of travel, leaving jobs they can’t afford to get to, or foregoing trips to see friends and family. Others will take to our already overcrowded roads, generating more traffic jams and more carbon dioxide emissions. Now is the moment to seize every opportunity to tackle climate change – not push through policies that make it worse. 

Fair Fares Now is a campaign to make train travel affordable and accessible, which we believe is essential not only for passengers, but for the environment, the economy and social inclusion.  We’ve been pushing hard for cheaper, simpler and fairer fares – and we recently had some good news when the government agreed to review its policy on rail fares. So right now is a key moment to pile on the pressure and let them know just how many people their plan for punitive fare increases.

Next Tuesday, 16 August, will see the publication of new inflation figures which will be used to calculate just how much fares will rise in January – we are expecting an average of 8%, and up to 13% in some places. To coincide with the announcement, Campaign for Better Transport, backed by the RMT and TSSA unions, Climate Rush and Bring Back British Rail, is organising a rally for fair fares in central London. Our message to government: Affordable public transport is vital – cancel the fare hikes and don’t price people off the train!

We’ll be outside Waterloo station in London with placards, banners, speeches and plenty of outrage. Come by for half an hour on your way to work (any time between 8.00 and 9.30am) to pop giant balloons to show that it’s time to burst the bubble on inflation-busting fare hikes. Or make it the start of a summer day out in London. Either way, help us show the government that we won’t take their unfair fare hikes lying down!

Alexandra Woodsworth is Public Transport Campaigner at the sustainable transport charity, Campaign for Better Transport.

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