Anger as Sheffield rail travellers are hit by ticket increase

Natalie Bennett with Coun Douglas Johnson (left). Cllr Alison Teal (right) and more Green activists campaigning in Sheffield over rail fare rises.
Natalie Bennett with Coun Douglas Johnson (left). Cllr Alison Teal (right) and more Green activists campaigning in Sheffield over rail fare rises.
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Protesters have been out in force outside Sheffield train station as commuters hit by the annual rise in train fares returned to work after the festive break.

Campaigners including Sheffield Greens and Sheffield Trades Union Council staged a protest as part of an organised day of action after the average increase of 2.3 per cent came into force.

Fares have risen by 25 per cent in the last six years while average earnings have only grown by 12 per cent.

Annual season tickets from Meadowhall to Leeds have risen by £512 – a 26 per cent rise since 2010.

Martin Mayer, Sheffield TUC secretary, said: “Our privatised railway is getting more expensive to use every year. That doesn’t have to be the case – bringing rail back into public ownership would be cheaper for the taxpayer and keep fares lower for all.”

Natalie Bennett, Green candidate for Sheffield Central, said: “We are sympathising with travellers who face a miserable new year with even more expensive tickets and continuing poor service.

“We are also promoting the long-term Green Party policy of ending the failed policy of privatising the railways.

“Bringing them back into public hands could save more than £1 billion a year, and we could have a service run for the interests of passengers not shareholders.

“This could be done by bringing the contracts back into public hands as contracts lapse, without any outlay of government cash.”

Figures vary between train operators, with some ticket prices rising this year by as much as 4.9 per cent.

John Healey, Wentworth and Dearne MP, slammed the Government for hammering passengers and commuters.

He said: “Train users in Rotherham and Barnsley have been hit again and again by eye-watering rail fare rises. Fares here have gone up by 26 per cent under the Tories, far outstripping any increase in most people’s pay packets.

“For many people travelling by train isn’t a luxury, it’s how they get to work every day.

“Labour’s policy is to bring the railways into public ownership so they can be run for passengers not profit.

“That means fairer fares, investment in a 21st century railway and giving passengers a stronger voice.”

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for more than a century, providing more seats and services.

“We have always fairly balanced the cost of this investment between the taxpayer and the passenger.”