The continued increase in train fares – a result of inflation – will take effect from January 2017. The beginning of 2016 also saw an average increase of 1.1% across all train fares. And it has clearly angered many commuters:
How can train fairs go up in price!? It costs me almost £90 to go from Nottingham to Newcastle and you don't even get free WiFi!
— Joe Cozens (@J_Cozens) August 16, 2016
— Kevin a.k.a Beasty (@beastytweet) August 16, 2016
While the government sets the cap for the rise in regulated fares, unregulated fares such as peak-time and advance fares are controlled by the train operator. Therefore, they can increase them as they see fit.
Privatisation and the rail network
The government supposedly controls certain increases and ‘protects’ the taxpayer. But the effects of the privatisation of the rail network are clear.
The privatisation of British railways began in 1994, under Margaret Thatcher’s successor, John Major. It was completed in 1997. Ever since, the effects have been obvious: private shareholders profit at the expense of the taxpayer.
Commuters continue to experience a poorly maintained rail network, cramped conditions, and late trains. According to a recent survey, fewer than half the travellers on some train operators are satisfied with the service. And yet, last year, shareholders of private train companies collectively profited from £222m in dividends. This marked a 21% increase from the previous year.
The story was similar in 2014. Train operators paid more than £200m in dividends to their shareholders, while taxpayers ploughed £4bn into the railways.
On top of this, many of Britain’s rail franchises are actually owned by state-run companies in other European countries. London Rail, for example, is owned by German state rail operator Deutsche Bahn.
In effect, foreign countries are profiting from a British public service. The UK taxpayer is putting money right into their hands to spend on improving their own countries.
Instead of working to improve services, the British government sold the railways for a quick buck. Now it is just standing by as other, cleverer governments profit at the expense of the UK taxpayer.
Campaigners and renationalisation
It is no surprise, then, that campaigners continue to protest against the privately-owned rail network.
The announcement of increased fares saw Action for Rail campaigners protesting at stations across the country. They were demanding the renationalisation of the railway. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn joined one protest at London Bridge. He held a placard reading ‘2017 rip off central’. Corbyn has continually supported the renationalisation of Britain’s public services. He used this opportunity to pledge his support once again, and to declare his desire to “rebuild and transform” the UK’s transport network and end the “transport nightmare” faced by commuters.
The privatised rail network is bleeding commuters dry and grossly profiting at their expense. While there isn’t a clear plan on how to renationalise the service, surely it’s about time. British commuters shouldn’t have to suffer poor services knowing their money is filtering into the pockets of rich shareholders and clever foreign governments.
– Support Action for Rail.
– Sign this petition and join disgruntled passengers and disheartened employees at Bring Back British Rail who advocate the creation of a national rail network run for the benefit of the people and not for the profit of a few CEOs.
– Learn more about the issue from TUC.
– See other Canary articles on Britain’s railways.
Featured image via Flickr/oatsy40
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?