On 2 January 2015, rail passengers were greeted with yet another wage-busting fare-rise. Union activists and campaigners gathered at London King’s Cross station to protest the unnecessary increases of up to 2.5%, and to ask passengers to contact their MPs with a request to support the call for an affordable railway under public ownership.
Campaigners were joined by Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Transport Michael Dugher MP, as well as Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Sadiq Khan MP. Union attendees included Colenzo Jarett-Thorpe, National Officer, Unite; Manuel Cortes, General Secretary, TSSA; Mick Cash, General Secretary, RMT, as well as Mick Whelan, General Secretary, ASLEF.
Since 2010 fares have risen over two and half times faster than wages, and the average season ticket has gone up by around 27%, on average £600 in just five years. This recent rise, though ‘capped’ at the level of inflation, makes already skyrocketing fare prices higher still and adds to the squeeze on living standards.
Research by Action for Rail shows that passengers using the UK’s privatised rail network spend substantially more of their wages getting to work than commuters using state owned railways in France, Italy and Spain. The analysis gives the example of a UK worker on an average salary who is now spending 17 per cent of their monthly wages on a £391 monthly season ticket from Brighton to London. However, over in Europe workers making similar journeys in Germany spent 9 per cent of their salary on train fares, in France 12 per cent and in Spain and Italy just six per cent.
As we have blogged previously, research shows that around £1.2bn is wasted on privatisation every year. This could be saved under public ownership and fund an 18 per cent cut in fares.
Campaigners are taking action today – 5 January, at over 50 stations throughout the UK, including Brighton, Derby, Exeter St Davids, Stoke-on-Trent, London King’s Cross, Exeter, Barnsley, Stafford, Worcester and more. Campaigners are protesting the fare rise and asking passengers to write to their MPs. For a roundup of the events so far together with some photos, please see here.
Write to your MP
Please write to your MP to ask them to support an affordable railway under public ownership.
Media coverage Here is a selection of some of the media coverage from the 2 Jan: