A protest has been held at Highbridge and Burnham Railway Station this week to campaign against “spiralling and crippling increases” in rail fares.
The group of banner-wielding campaigners headed to the station where they spoke to passengers about the increases as part of a national protest by the Labour Party on ‘Rail Action Day.’
Steve Vincent, Campaigns Officer for the North West Somerset Labour Party, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “The event was held as part of the National Day of Action all over the country in protest at the spiralling and crippling increases in ticket prices.”
“Rail fares have increased by 46.8% since 2010 whilst wages have increased by only 22.3%. Ticket revenue is nearly £10billion per year but spending on the railways is less than £3.5billion.”
“We spoke with many disgruntled passengers and the issues raised were varied. As well as unreliability, price hikes and passenger overcrowding, the lack of ticket machine at Highbridge and Burnham can cause big problems further up the line with barriers in places like Bristol Temple Meads and Bath Spa resulting in lengthy queues for tickets upon arrival.”
“Other issues included the lack of local transport links, small shelters providing poor protection against the elements, awful access for disabled passengers and the limited parking available.”
“The Labour Party promise to nationalise the railways will see investment increase and ticket prices capped. Taking control back of the railways will ensure that rather than line the pockets of huge private operating multinational companies, money will be reinvested in the system making train travel accessible and affordable for everyone.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has this week blamed trade unions for this year’s ticket price hikes.
He told the BBC: “The reality is the fare increases are higher than they should be because the unions demand – with threats of national strikes, but they don’t get them – higher pay rises than anybody else. Typical pay rises are more than 3% and that’s what drives the increases.”
He added: “You can freeze fares and cut services, you can increase fares and invest in services but you can’t freeze fares and have more money to invest. I wish fares didn’t go up as well. The reality is we peg fares to the level of inflation, a higher rate of inflation than I would wish.”
Research has found that UK passengers spend up to five times as much on season tickets as other European travellers.
Pictured: Bernie Grant, Steve Vincent, Paul Turner and Tony Cursons at Highbridge and Burnham Railway Station. Photo: David Pearce