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FareFail campaign recruits thousands

2 March 2012

January 2012 brought not just arctic winds and sub-zero temperatures, but another round of massive rail fare increases. This year the TSSA community organising team was at the forefront of the commuter fight-back against Europe's highest rail fares, with passengers co-ordinated via the twitter 'hashtag' #FareFail.

FareFail band

With anger palpable in the run up to Christmas, and the Government making concessions over fare rises, the campaign was in full flow in the first week of the year as commuters returned to work – many worse off by hundreds of pounds.

Together for Transport and TSSA came together with Climate Rush, the Campaign for Better Transport, and Bring Back British Rail to unleash an exciting campaign that combined online activity with leafleting and direct action.

The strategy sought to encourage commuters to use the time they spent travelling to work to take part in an online action via their phones. Nearly 3,000 commuters answered our call to ‘tweet, text or call’ the Treasury and George Osborne to let them know just how angry they were, and how much their own rail fare or season ticket had gone up. To help with this, a special website was launched, giving details of how to get involved:

FareFail banner

At the same time ‘real world’ media stunts saw the campaign splashed across the pages of newspapers including the Daily Mail, which even included instructions about how to get involved. A media stunt at St Pancras saw a huge #FareFail banner hung within the station whilst a Jazz band of ‘Fat Controllers’ played railway- themed tunes. The BBC, Sky, Channel 4 and many others covered the protest.

The #FareFail coalition prompted a symbolic protest from commuters coming into Charing Cross on Thursday 5 January, with passengers encouraged to hand in ‘fake’ #FareFail tickets distributed in the days before.

The campaign showed how with a few committed organisers and some innovative methods, we can make contact and ally ourselves with thousands of passengers – in this case on fares, but with a model that can be used in defence of facilities and services. You don’t have to take our word for it – public relations magazine ‘PR Week’ named #FareFail as its ‘Campaign of the Week’. 7

Sam Tarry, TSSA Community Organiser

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