The demonstration against train fare rises we held at Waterloo Station on Tuesday 16 August 2011 in collaboration with Campaign for Better Transport, Climate Rush, RMT, Together for Transport and TSSA. Photo: Robin Prime
It’s obvious that people are angry and frustrated with the way the railway system has been run in this country since it was dismantled and sold off in the ‘90s, and yesterday’s extortionate train fare rises have only made this situation worse.
I began the Bring Back British Rail campaign two years ago. After years of enduring delayed, over-priced and over-crowded journeys around the UK, I finally snapped. It was clear from my experience as a passenger, that having so many competing franchises running separate sections of the network was both inefficient and unsafe. It resulted in people like me getting a raw deal, whilst the shareholders in the private train companies (who probably don’t even use the trains!) swanned-off with our government’s transport subsidies.
I’ve found that ‘Bring Back British Rail’ really strikes a chord with the majority of people using and working on the railways – it sums up their cries for a radical rethink of the way the railway system is run and managed. Since 2009, the campaign (based around a lively Facebook page), has gone from strength-to-strength becoming the ‘collective voice’ of this shared anger and frustration.
The East Coast franchise came into public ownership in 2009 after National Express (the company running the franchise at the time), realised it wasn’t quite the money-spinner that they’d hoped. The point the campaign is making is that this shouldn’t be about making money. Having a good, sustainable transport system is about providing a valuable service to the people of Britain and not about running a business. The East Coast nationalisation has proved that it is possible, realistic and could actually save us money. But the truth is that the greatest hurdle we face is not financial, but rather getting the politicians who allowed the privatisation to go through in the first place, to admit that they were wrong.
Founder, Bring Back British Rail
On Tuesday 16 August 2011, BBC Radio London’s reporter Jason Rosam came down to cover our massive demonstration against train fare rises outside Waterloo Station. Here you can listen to his live coverage and interviews broadcast throughout the morning.
07:37 BBC Radio London Breakfast Show
Interviews with Alexandra Woodsworth from Campaign for Better Transport and Ellie Harrison from Bring Back British Rail.
08:07 BBC Radio Kent Breakfast Show
Interviews with Alexandra Woodsworth from Campaign for Better Transport, Ellie Harrison from Bring Back British Rail and Theresa Villiers Transport Minister.
08:40 BBC Radio London Breakfast Show
Interview with Alexandra Woodsworth from Campaign for Better Transport and David Mapp from ATOC.
09:18 BBC Radio London Vanessa Show
Interviews with Theresa Villiers Transport Minister, Stephen Joseph from Campaign for Better Transport and Ellie Harrison from Bring Back British Rail.
John Millington reports for the Morning Star on the demonstration against train fare rises held outside Waterloo Station on Tuesday 16 August 2011.
“Rail fares are set to rise by 8 per cent in January, heaping yet more misery on passengers following reports that privatisation and fragmentation had needlessly cost the taxpayer £6.6 million extra since 1997.
New inflation figures pushed up the regulated fares, with July’s retail prices index rate of inflation used to determine the annual rise in January 2012 for regulated rail fares including season and saver tickets.
Campaigners launched a demonstration at Waterloo station in London today following news of the rise, coinciding with the rush hour.
Fair Fares Now activists handed out leaflets and spoke to season ticket holders who are likely to be hit hardest by the rise.
Rail union RMT president Alex Gordon told the Morning Star that the fair rise was “socially unsustainable” and that the union would be “upping the ante” at Parliament in October to call for public ownership of the railways.
Pressure group Bring Back British Rail founder Ellie Harrison said that the fare rise would spell misery for millions of ordinary people who use the railways.
She said that she founded the group after becoming a “pissed-off passenger” under privatisation and “wanted to do something about it.
“It’s about reminding people that we used to have public ownership of the railways and other industries. And that we can have it again,” she said.
Passing commuters agreed with Ms Harrison’s sentiments.
“An 8 per cent rise is not good news. I think the fares are already too high,” said Sharmaine Mackin, who had just travelled in to London from Bracknell in Berkshire.
But higher fares were only the tip of the iceberg for hard-up commuters who face the prospect of yet more money being bled out of the struggling rail network over the next 10 years.
A report commissioned by RMT has revealed that profit-taking and fragmentation costs were £883m in 2009 alone and more than £6.6 billion between 1997 and 2009.
The union predicted that profits to private rail companies could lose the railways £6.7bn over the next 10 years, while public subsidies are set to rise by 300 per cent.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “This independent report proves that privatisation is robbing our railways of £670m a year and RMT has calculated that this would equate to an annual 10 per cent cut in rail fares or free bus and rail travel for all children under the age 16.
“McNulty and the government are forcing through inflation-busting fare increases and savage cuts to maximise private train company profits. The whole policy of rail privatisation is exposed as an economic and social disaster.”
Tuesday 16 August 2011
8:30 – 9:30 AM
Outside Waterloo Station
(corner of York Way and Sutton Walk)
We are working with Campaign for Better Transport, Climate Rush, RMT, Together for Transport and TSSA to organise this massive demonstration against the government hikes in train fares outside London’s Waterloo Station.
If you support the campaign, come down and join us!
Bring Back British Rail is now officially supporting the Fair Fares Now campaign launched by the Campaign for Better Transport in response to January’s fare rises and the prospect of further extortionate unregulated rises over the next few years under the new government. Please visit the campaign website for more details of how to get involved:
New for 2011, we have launched a new ongoing petition here on the Bring Back British Rail website. Without a fixed deadline, this petition aims to become a way of accumulating and consolidating support for our campaign.
Add your name and comment TODAY to become part of the definitive list of disgruntled rail passengers and disheartened train employees supporting the Bring Back British Rail campaign in calling for a newly unified national rail network run for people not profit.
We have Bring Back British Rail campaign t-shirts now available in a full range of sizes (small, medium, large and x-large). The perfect Christmas present for disgruntled rail passengers!
T-shirts are plain white cotton with our screen-printed logo on the front and back (as shown below). Only £12 each including delivery in the UK. Order before Friday 17 December 2010 to get your t-shirt in time for Christmas!
T-shirts are now available in the Merchandise section of the website. If you would like to be kept up-to-date when new merchandise becomes available, please sign up for our mailing list and join our Facebook page.
A Bring Back British Rail t-shirt is great way of showing your support and spreading the word about the campaign!
Dear Rail Franchise Policy Team,
I am writing on behalf of the Bring Back British Rail campaign in response to your open consultation on ‘Reforming Rail Franchising’, due to close on 18 October 2010.
The Bring Back British Rail campaign is a growing movement of disgruntled rail passengers and disheartened TOC employees who are demanding that the government make major improvements to the county’s dysfunctional rail franchise system. The campaign, launched in 2009, currently numbers close to 8,000 supporters across our Facebook community, website and mailing list.
Since its introduction over 17 years ago, the franchise system has caused the fracturing and disintegration of our once world-class rail network. This has led to:
- the lowering of employee conditions and morale
- a poor, inefficient, expensive and confusing service for passengers