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Issue #1760      December 7, 2016

Fare cuts with nationalisation

BRITAIN: The Labour Party has promised to bring railways back into public ownership as the steepest fare rises in nearly three years were announced last week. Following the news of the 2.3 percent increase in ticket prices – which is above the rate of inflation – shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald promised that Labour would reinvest profits to “improve services and hold fares down.”

He added that the rise in travel costs is further proof that privatised rail is a “rip-off.” Rail fares have risen by a shocking 23.5 percent in real terms since 1995, with the recent announcement being the largest increase since January 2014.

Campaign for Better Transport spokesperson Lianna Etkind warned that people are being “priced off the railways.” RMT general secretary Mick Cash called the fares hike “another kick in the teeth for British passengers,” adding that Brits pay “some of the highest fares in Europe to travel on rammed-out and unreliable trains.”

He condemned the privateer rail companies that he says “are laughing all the way to the bank as they whack up fares and axe staff in an all-out dash to maximise their profits.”

Cash demanded an end to the “culture of private greed on Britain’s railways.” General secretary of train drivers’ union Aslef, Mick Whelan, said: “The train companies see passengers as sheep to be fleeced. But it is shameful that the government is going along with them.”

Tory Rail Minister Paul Maynard defended the more expensive ticket prices by saying that the government is investing over £40 billion into the railways to deliver “the biggest rail modernisation program for over a century.”

These improvements would include more seats and services, wi-fi and air conditioning – he promised. “We have always fairly balanced the cost of this investment between the taxpayer and the passenger,” Maynard claimed.

But his Labour counterpart McDonald claimed: “Vital projects have been delayed by years” despite the increase in fares.

He said: “Money that could be used to keep fares down or reinvested to improve our services is instead subsidising the profits of private companies and other nations’ railway systems – it’s a scandal.”

McDonald said the routes would return to public ownership under Labour when private contracts expire so that services improve and fares are not increased.

Morning Star

Next article – A Brat Pop critique of capitalism

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