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Unions step up rail fares freeze campaign

11 April 2014

The campaign for Labour to commit to a 12 month rail fares freeze in next year's General Election has been stepped up today.

The two rail unions leading the cost of living offer to passengers have now written to all Labour local constituency parties urging them to back the plan at the party's crucial policy forum in July.

Aslef and TSSA argue that the policy will not only be a vote winner across the South East, where long distance rail annual season tickets now cost over £5,000, but would be popular nationwide.
The joint letter spells out the electoral bonus that Ed Miliband could expect by backing the policy.
"We all know that policies tackling the cost of living crisis will help Labour win. We also know that policies that have resonance with voters will win.
"A radical offer that combines dealing with the exorbitant cost of train fares (which has seen some rise as much as 245% as recently reported in the press) through public ownership of rail - as each rail franchise expires between now and 2020 - doesn't just save the taxpayer money but will win us votes, and the election, in key marginal seats across the country."

The unions argue that the policy will pay for itself by taking back into public ownership private rail franchises as and when they expire.
"The substantial savings this would accrue could be invested in wider public services, including a cut to fares for hard pressed passengers." argues the policy document that will be put before the policy forum which will frame Labour's manifesto pledges.
As well as a  year long fares freeze from January 2016, the unions are arguing that fares should only be increased by RPI - 1% for the remainder of the next parliament. Between 2004 and 2013, they were increased by RPI plus 1%.

TSSA leader Manuel Cortes said:"We know how popular this policy is in the South East because we have road tested it in marginal seats like Hastings and Brighton.

"What we want to do now is to show Ed at the policy forum just how popular it is right across the country. Passengers are fed up to the back teeth with annual fare rises.

"Last week we published independent figures showing that walk on fares have risen by as much as 245% on the West Coast line since privatisation 20 years ago. That is simply an intolerable burden on working people."

Last week the Labour leader said he wanted to examine "innovative solutions" for the railways which included keeping the East Coast line in public hands.

Letter to CLPs:   NPF amendments

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