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FareFail message is louder than ever

4 March 2013

In January, rail fares rose by an average of 4.2 per cent – in many cases a lot more. It is the tenth consecutive year that fares have risen above inflation, and with wages stagnant, many travellers can no longer cope.

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Commuters right across the UK have lost out, but for those in the South East, where daily rail travel is the most common, the story is the bleakest. In 2003, an annual season ticket from Sevenoaks, in Kent, to London cost £1,660. Today, it costs £3,112 – a rise of 87 per cent. Even when you take into account inflation, this is a huge – and unacceptable – increase.

The impact is now becoming really noticeable. Rising fares have put a severe squeeze on family budgets, already faltering in the tough economic climate created by George Osborne’s austerity dogma. Add it to the mix of wage stagnation, child benefit cuts and soaring utility bills and it is understandable why public anger towards the government’s rail fares policy is building. Many who use trains have no other option but to do so – in this context, they regard the year-on-year fare hikes as a tax on going to work.

This has meant the spiralling cost of rail travel has become a political hot potato. In February, Ed Miliband announced his intention to ‘stop the train company price rip-offs on the most popular routes’. For its part, the Government has sought to downplay the impact of fares.

Transport Minister Norman Baker said in January that the current system was ‘not ideal’ but that fares are ‘not as expensive as presented’.

The need for even-greater public pressure on politicians to commit to a strategy for lower fares has been behind the re-launch of the ‘FareFail’ campaign, which TSSA has participated in from the start. Railway employees never see the benefit of ever-rising fares, and by involving ourselves in a broad coalition with rail users, we can play our part in a powerful alliance, including people interested in looking beyond fares, and willing to argue for the retention of staff and services.

That’s what lay behind the ‘FareFail’ days of action on 2 January and more recently on 14 February, when our Valentine’s day event – ‘Love Trains, Hate High Fares!’ – saw actions at over 40 stations nationwide. It’s all part of our effort to keep the pressure up, build relationships with rail passengers and remind politicians that together, we cannot be ignored.

Thanks to the involvement of TSSA members, the movement against runaway train fares is gaining ground and winning new allies – in 2013, let’s make it a key issue in the debate around public transport, the environment aind the economy.


• To find out more visit www.togetherfortransport.org or contact TSSA Community Organiser George Woods woodsg@tssa.org.uk.

 

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