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‘Top ten’ most expensive commutes targeted in fares campaign

29 April 2013

Think back to 2003. Ten years ago things were a little different. ‘Where is the love?’ by the Black Eyed Peas was the biggest single of the year, topping the charts for six weeks running. Perhaps more importantly, the invasion of Iraq was underway and the Human Genome Project had just been completed.

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And ‘Where is the love?’ is a question being asked by millions of rail passengers, for whom travel in 2003 was far cheaper than it is now. Rail fares have been hiked above the rate of inflation every year since then, with the cumulative impact revealed by a recent report showing the top-ten commutes where season ticket have risen most.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they are all located in the South East. FareFail, the campaign against high rail fares backed by TSSA and others, swung into action. Throughout the spring we have visited each of these ten stations, alerting commuters to the shocking truth about the cost of their journey into work and back and explaining how public ownership could bring fares down.

At every station, we were greeted by members of the public angry at the government’s fares policy and supportive of our efforts. The response outside one station, was typical, says Chris Clark, a TSSA member who used his links with Labour Party members and others across the region to build support: ‘A woman walked past us and said ‘no thanks’ but once she’d bought her ticket, she was so outraged by the price, she came back and asked for one of our postcards!’

Our actions won positive media coverage across the region and highlighted the hypocritical stance of local MPs. Of the ten communities we visited, nine of their MPs had voted against a motion in Parliament in January opposing higher fares.

Chris added: ‘I’m proud to have been part of the FareFail campaign. It’s been fun as well
as successful, and now we have a really good platform to build on. TSSA is doing the right thing, campaigning on issues like rising fares and cuts to station staffing that affect the public. It’s good for the public to see us trade unionists campaigning for something that’s good for them.

‘I think this kind of community campaigning is the way forward. It’s the best way for us to influence public opinion and win support for changes in policy on the railways.’

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