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Green ticket for rail campaigners

The protest at Frome station

The protest at Frome station

Commuters at Frome Station were met by activists taking part in a national day of ‘Action for Rail – People before Profit’ on Monday morning 5th January.

The Frome protest was organised by local rail users and Green Party members, supporting a call for Britain’s railways to be returned to public ownership.  Similar events were held at Castle Cary and Bridgwater stations, and supported by Somerset’s Green Party election candidates.

Joining leafletters on the platform, Somerton and Frome Green Party election candidate Theo Simon said, “Many people like me want to travel by train more often, but we simply cannot afford it or cannot travel at the times we need. My own station at Castle Cary has only one major connection after 9.00pm and is starved of the investment it needs in car parking and other services, despite it’s popularity.”

The protest comes three days after the government announced a further 2.5% national rail fare increase. Speaking before boarding his 8.00am train to Bristol, local user Patrick Dunn said, “This New Year price rise means that over the period of this coalition government there has been a 20% increase in what I pay for rail travel.  But these fare rises don’t seem to have paid for improvements in services – on the contrary, our railways have become more inefficient, overcrowded and unreliable than ever – with the highest fares in Europe.”

A return to public ownership would not just mean affordable fares according to Green candidate Theo Simon. Mr Simon claimed that national polls show overwhelming public support for returning the railways to public ownership, but said that only the Green Party is prepared to back it. He urged electors to quiz other candidates on the issue.

He said, “If our railways were brought back into public ownership, with communities and staff involved in their planning, we could cut our reliance on road transport, expand and improve the service, and open or re-open stops like Langport as part of an integrated public transport system. That’s why the Green Party in Somerset are supporting the Action for Rail campaign, in coalition with local transport groups, climate change campaigners, the RMT union and the People’s Assembly.

“This week, Green MP Caroline Lucas’ private members bill for this demand will get it’s second reading in parliament. I hope that Labour and the Libdems, who say they are committed to serving communities and combatting climate change, will support it – but I won’t be holding my breath!”

Monday morning travellers leaving Frome were met by similar protests at Bath Spa and Bristol stations.

A summary of Green Party policy on transport can be found at www.blog.theosimon.org.uk/transport

 

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