“We are reflecting the shock and anger of the rail passengers, which is a growing phenomenon in Britain.” - Protest outside Norwich Railway Station against fare increases
PUBLISHED: 10:24 03 January 2017 | UPDATED: 16:46 03 January 2017
Archant Norfolk 2017
Campaigners against the new year increase to train fares are gathering outside Norwich Railway Station today.
The peaceful protest is part of a national day of action by Action for Rail against the national average hike of 2.3pc in ticket prices.
Across the Greater Anglia network fares are going up by 1.8pc.
The increase covers both regulated fares, which includes season tickets, and unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets.
However, a Greater Anglia spokesman said some fares would stay the same including standard singles and returns to London from Norfolk stations.
Representatives from NOR4NOR, Norfolk for Nationalisation of Rail, Norwich Labour Party and the Green Party were involved in the protest.
Dave Welsh, NOR4NOR convenor, said: “We are reflecting the shock and anger of the rail passengers, which is a growing phenomenon in Britain.
“We think Greater Anglia should be publicly owned. Nationally it is time to get away from the crazy system of franchising the railways and return to a single unified system.”
He added the most common complaints from Greater Anglia passengers were overcrowded carriages as well as late, interrupted or cancelled services.
“The fares before this latest increase were already out of reach for anybody on a low income. You have got an apartheid system so people cannot use the trains for substantial amount of time.”
Danny Douglas, campaigns co-ordinator for the Norwich Labour Party, said: “This increase is another cost on people’s income which is imposed by the government.
“We are in favour of returning railways to state control. We need to get better value for money for the British taxpayers and British people.”
Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, said: “Passengers in Norwich have been hit again and again by eye-watering rail fare rises. Fares have now rocketed by 27pc under the Tories, far outstripping any increase in most people’s pay packets.
“For many people here, travelling by train isn’t a luxury, it’s how they get to work every day. A season ticket to London now costs £1,672 more every year.
“Labour’s policy is to bring the railways into public ownership so they can be run for passengers not profit. That means fairer fares, investment in a 21st century railway and giving passengers a stronger voice.”
Greater Anglia, which took on a nine-year contract to run the train service from Norwich to London Liverpool Street in October, has said it will “tackle key customer priorities” over the next year.
A Greater Anglia spokesman said: “We are investing £5m to make our existing trains more reliable, working with Network Rail to secure better rail infrastructure performance (including the track, signalling and overhead line equipment) and introducing 18 additional trains in the summer to provide extra seats at peak times.”
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “Nobody wants to pay more to travel to work and at the moment in some places people aren’t getting the service they are paying for. Money from fares is helping to sustain investment in the longer, newer trains and more punctual journeys that passengers want. As the railway gets busier, especially at peak times, this investment is more crucial than ever.”
Passenger Tom Carter, 25, from Wymondham, said the fare increase seemed “hard to justify” and added there was a “chronic lack of investment” in the Greater Anglia service.
The politics teacher from Norwich’s Jane Austen College said: “We are pretty well served for trains. The problem isn’t with the frequency, it is with the quality of service
But student Alex Rought, 26, from Bristol, who was visiting his family in Norwich, said he had a good experience with the Greater Anglia service.
He said: “I feel the train service would be better nationalised. I don’t think franchising the service works. It is essential to have a good train service. Buses are very affordable by it is much more comfortable to sit on a train.”
North Norfolk rail protest
Rail passengers are not seeing improvements they desperately need to the train service in Norfolk - despite an “eye-watering” increase in fares.
The North Norfolk Labour Party made the claim following a protest against a further increase in fares at North Walsham station, on the Bittern Line between Sheringham and Norwich, this morning.
It claims the cost of a season ticket between Norwich and London has increased by 27pc since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.
Labour wants to re-nationalise the rail service in Britain and put passengers ahead of profits. It branded the latest rise in fares “unreasonable”.
After speaking to commuters and students on their first day back at college, Stephen Burke, chair of North Norfolk Labour Party, said: “The cost of travelling by train on average has risen by 27pc since the Tories came to power but, despite an eye-watering increase in costs, we are not seeing the improvements we desperately need for our trains here in Norfolk.
“We have been leafleting and making people aware of our plan for the train services which would bring the train services in Britain back under public ownership so that fares are kept down in price, and so that the train system gets the investment it desperately needs. People should come before profits.”
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