In what is quickly becoming the only punctual thing about our privatised rail system, the annual increase in rail fares came into effect yesterday.
This year, prices have gone up by 2.3%. And in the last decade, fares have gone up at twice the rate of wages. This is effectively forcing people off the railways, because they simply can’t afford it.
Not only that, but while we’re made to pay more and more, the service gets worse and worse. We now have one of the least efficient and most expensive rail networks in all of Europe.
Today, Green Party activists around the country have come together to campaign at their local train stations, calling for the railways to be brought back into public hands. I was one of them, joining with the Campaign for Better Transport in King’s Cross, protesting against these latest fare rises.
The message is clear. We want reliable, affordable, convenient trains. For everyone.
This isn’t about harking back to the last period of UK public ownership. This is about looking to today’s best examples of modern, clean, connected rail networks – run in the interest of passengers rather than profits.
Sadly, our government is more interested in spending tax money on roads rather than rails, making people more dependent on highly polluting forms of transport, while passing the spiralling costs of privatised rail onto passengers like you and me.
I want commuters in the UK to enjoy their journey to and from work, rather than endure it. Nobody should have to perch on a luggage rack, miserably crushed against someone else’s back. And they certainly shouldn’t be paying more and more for the privilege each year.
We need low carbon transport and high quality journeys. And the first step is taking back our railways from greedy, inefficient private companies.
Caroline Russell AM
Green Party spokesperson for Transport