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Action against increased rail fairs and calls for public ownership of the railways

The Green Party in Bristol have today been campaigning alongside commuters and transport unions TSSA and RMT as part of a national day of action [1] to highlight another rail fare increase by the Coalition government and to call for public ownership of the railways. Party members handed action postcards out at Bristol Temple Meads station and talked to commuters about the effect of the rail fare increases [see attached picture].

With estimates that at least £1 billion a year could be saved by renationalising the railways [2], the Greens say that the savings made through public ownership could be reinvested in creating a truly resilient railway network in the West of England.

Darren Hall, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Bristol West and the director of Bristol's Big Green Week (who took part in today's action), said:

"I think rail users all want the same thing - to be able to sit in comfort on a good value, regular train that runs on-time. They resent paying through the nose to stand up and arrive late. Lets put customers before profit, lets put reliability before profit, lets put safety and comfort before profit. Lets put the rail system in the hands of the people who pay for it."

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, has lent her support to today’s actions and to taking back private franchises into public ownership. Before being elected as an MEP, she set up an e-petition calling for the Great Western franchise to be taken back into public ownership [4]. She said:

"Greens in the European Parliament will fight hard against any moves to remove the freedom for countries to choose which way they want to run their passenger rail services. For Greens in the UK that means, unequivocally, public ownership of our railways."

Dr Scott Cato has an ongoing petition on the government's e-petitions site calling for the railways to be brought back into public ownership [3].

The Green Party is still the only major party that endorses returning the railways to public ownership, as each privatised franchise expires. [4]

Notes

[1] The day of action is being organised by Action for Rail. The inflation figure on 19th August is used to calculate increases in regulated fares, like Off-Peak and Anytime Day tickets. This is therefore seen as an ideal day to highlight the fact that the UK has some of the highest rail fares in Europe and that in Europe, publicly owned railways have lower fares, are more efficient, and profits are reinvested back into the service. Details: http://actionforrail.org/fair-fares-day-of-action-for-public-ownership-august-19/

[2] The figure of £1 billion a year saving is provided by the Rebuilding Rail report sponsored by the rail unions ASLEF, TSSA, RMT and Unite:

http://www.transportforqualityoflife.com/u/files/120630_Rebuilding_Rail_Final_Report_print_version.pdf

[3] Molly Scott Cato's e-petition: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/56244

[4] Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, introduced a Private Members' Bill to this end: http://www.carolinelucas.com/media.html/2013/06/26/bring-railways-back-into-public-hands-to-save-a-billion-a-year,-urges-green-mp/ 

Additional Notes

- Darren Hall was selected as Green Party candidate for Bristol West in July 2014. The Greens are currently polling highest in Bristol West based on local election results. See here for more information: http://robertjessetelford.com/blog/?p=426

- Picture (l-r): Green Party members Darren Hall (parliamentary candidate for Bristol West), Alan Baker and Charlie Bolton (councillor for Southville).

- Molly Scott Cato's statement on public ownership of railways can be read here: http://southwest.greenparty.org.uk/news.html/2014/08/18/private-rail-industry-poor-value-for-money,-not-investment-in-south-west-railways,-say-greens/

- More information on the Green Party’s transport policies (specifically railways) can be found at: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/tr.html#TR230

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