Protestors have held action at 100 train stations across Britain over rail fare hikes. Organised by the Action For Rail group, the action was held as average rises of 2.3 per cent came into force as commuters returned to work following the Christmas break.
The group, which is backed by trade unions, organised demonstrations at major stations across the country, including London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. The shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry were both among campaigners at London’s King’s Cross station. Mr McDonald said it was awful that fares had gone up by 27 per cent over a six year period, but that wages had not kept pace at all. He added that passengers should be put before profits.
As well as the coordinated protests, a flash mob demo was held at King’s Cross, with a choir performing a song about the soaring price of train travel. However, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train service operators, said that 97 pence in every pound paid by passengers for tickets went straight back into running and improving rail services. Fare hikes vary between train operators, with Virgin Trains East Coast having put up prices by 4.9 per cent. Regulated fares have been allowed to go up by 1.9 per cent, as the Government bases these on the Retail Prices Index.
The soaring cost of train travel has been criticised by public transport campaigners. Lianna Etkind from the Campaign for Better Transport said passengers were being asked to pay more for a less frequent, more crowded service. Many passengers have said they are struggling to make work pay, given the high costs they are paying just to get to their office.