Protests as 2013 starts with train fares hike

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By Mid Devon Gazette | Tuesday, January 08, 2013, 06:29

PROTESTORS from across Mid Devon joined protests at major railway stations to vent their frustration over an increase in rail fares for the 10th successive year.

Commuters returning to work following the Christmas and New Year break were faced with an average 4.2 per cent hike on their train ticket prices.

Members from Sustainable Crediton, Bradninch Climate Action and Exeter Friends of the Earth handed leaflets to rail users at Exeter's St David's and Central stations to call on their support for their campaign for fairer travel prices.

Laura Conyngham, a member of Sustainable Crediton, said: "This is the 10th consecutive year where the price of train travel has been jacked up above the level of inflation. Almost all of the commuters we approached accepted a leaflet and many reached out for one; glad to learn they can make their views known. Several were even enthusiastic.

"Train travel to work, school, local places and locations further away should not be an eco-warriors' extravagance but normal, responsible citizenship.

"We need people to leave their cars at home and choose the train. Government subsidies must not be eroded away any further."

The Devon groups have joined an alliance, made up of Together for Transport, the TSSA Union, Shift, Alliance for Jobs & Climate, Act! Climate Rush and Bring Back British Rail. The alliance has a three-point plan. It wants rail fares reduced to an affordable level, public ownership of the railways and cuts to carbon emissions through increased rail travel.

Commuters were asked to back the campaign by Tweeting their complaints about fair rises to @transportgovuk using #farefail and #railfail.

Similar leaflet drops by campaigners took place at Tiverton Parkway, Whimple and dozens of other stations across the UK.

Rob Jenks, from Together for Transport, said: "Once again, the start of the New Year brings into reality the annual misery of hiked rail fares as so many people begin their reluctant return to work.

"At a time of a shaky economy and low or non-existent pay rises, many people are struggling to meet the demands of increased living costs. The last thing rail passengers want is to be stung by fare increases that only serve to enhance private sector profits and allow the Government to cut rail subsidy."

Dan Paynes, a spokesperson for First Great Western, said the 4.2 per centre increase is based on a Government fares formula which is designed to cover fuel and staff costs.

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