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Rail fare price hike sparks Burton station protest

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 21, 2014

By Rob Helliwell

Paul Walker RMT Burton Branch Chair

Paul Walker RMT Burton Branch Chair

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PROTESTERS gathered at Burton Railway Station on Tuesday to rouse the public into action against rising fares.

The action was prompted by new government plans to increase fares by an average of 3.5 per cent at the beginning of 2015.

Several Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) Union members and supporters spent much of the afternoon distributing protest postcards to station users, imploring them to send the cards on to their local MP.

The RMT hope that the postcards will force the government into action if enough members of the public put them in the post.

Paul Walker, RMT Burton branch chair, said: "Britain's rail fares are the most expensive in Europe and further increases are a further kick in the teeth for commuters.

"Even when set at the new level of inflation, rail fares in Britain remain excessively high and are well above average earnings.

"All the political parties seem to be naive to the fact that nationalisation is the best way to cut fares."

"MPs have previously accused us of scaremongering with our protests. Now though we are seeing protests across the country on the back of the latest government announcement."

Britain's railways were nationalised from 1948 until 1993, when John Major's government decided to move them back into private hands.

Unions are now driving for re-nationalisation to reduce financial wastage, as they claim profit making companies take money away from the railways.

The RMT claim Virgin alone paid almost £100m in dividends to shareholders in 2012/13, after receiving over £1bn in public subsidy.

William Walker, vice-chairman of the East Staffordshire Trading Council, explained why the protest is necessary: "This is to make people aware that fares are going up again, and way above the rate of inflation.

"We want people to fill out the postcards that we are distributing today and to send them to their MP.

"We would also like the government to explore nationalising the railway. This would ensure money spent by passengers goes back into the railways, rather than into the pockets of shareholders."

MP for Burton, Andrew Griffiths was unavailable for comment on the protest.

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  • mattlong  |  August 21 2014, 12:36PM

    Whether you agree with the protest or not, well done to the above people in the photograph for working to raise public awareness that there is a potential alternative to privatisation. It is the possibility of an alternative which makes this a politically progressive protest. It is not just anti-government but it is 'pro' something - namely renationalisation. I have tremendous respect for Andrew Griffiths and enjoyed working with him on the issue of mental health in our town. He has done good work in our town and I have always acknowledged that and will continue to do so. This being said the political left, to use a boxing analogy, continue to allow him to escape from the proverbial ropes and to dance away Cassisus Clay like on the subject without making comment on the issue. In boxing, any decent coach will tell you if you go looking for the knockout it will not come and that is why our MP is able to dance away from the clumsy George Foreman type wild swing punches that the political left throws at him. If you punch an opponent below the belt they will look at the referee (in this case the media) and cry 'foul'. The left needs to work at improving its footwork - what a boxing coach would call 'cornering the ring' so that an elected representative is on the ropes and cannot simply say 'No comment' or 'Doesn't affect Burton'.

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