Train fares are rising by an average of 4.2% according to The Guardian, and up to 6.2% according to The Mirror. They have risen by 54% in 10 years according to the Campaign for Better Transport.
Norman Baker, Transport Minister, considers this ‘necessary for investment’ and ‘once you take the basket of fares not nearly as expensive as is being presented’. It is true that you may be able to travel more cheaply off peak, or get a very cheap ticket by booking a long time in advance, but most people have to get to work and travel in the rush hour. And the booking in advance has problems attached: you may have to specify trains and times and you don’t get your money back if you can’t travel after all. Baker defends the rise by saying that people want enough seats, trains to run on time on modern rolling stock. Well, what a surprise! Isn’t that what we pay our fares for? It’s a bit rich coming from someone who travels first class at the taxpayers expense. Oh, by the way, Baker says some of this money is coming from ‘the taxpayer’ and some from ‘the fare payer’. Don’t fare payers pay taxes then?
A 2009 Passenger Focus Group report compared fares among eight EU countries and found that British passengers pay very much more in fares, particularly for commuting long distances.
The privatised railways receive massive subsidies, make huge profits and their chief executives get enormous salaries. Tory Government under John Major hurried through the privatisation of the railways despite its widespread unpopularity. Tony Blair promised to renationalise them, and after the Paddington rail disaster (1999) 73% wanted this to happen. But – it didn’t.
Counterfire and CoR members, members of King’s Lynn and District Trades Council and South West Norfolk Labour Party were outside King’s Lynn and Downham Market stations on Tuesday 11th December at rush hours, morning and afternoon, in freezing fog, handing out the TUC Action for Rail Christmas cards. These were to let people know about the massive fare rises as well as possible job cuts. We got an overwhelmingly positive response – at tiny Downham Market (pop. 3,000) we handed out 500, with one woman taking a whole bundle away with her. Most people wanted the rail companies renationalised.
For more information and to join the campaign in your area go to Action For Rail