Rail cuts protestors ‘shocked’ at South Yorkshire travel bodies’ firm stance

Freedom riders Barnsley
Freedom riders Barnsley
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Transport organisations in South Yorkshire will not change their stance on travel pass cuts – after a meeting with protesters ended in failure for campaigners.

Barnsley Retirees Action Group met representatives from South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and Northern Rail to discuss the cuts to concessionary fares which mean the elderly must pay half price for train tickets instead of travelling free.

Freedom Riders Tom Nuttall

Freedom Riders Tom Nuttall

BRAG leader George Arthur compared his members to Suffragettes, and said he was ‘shocked’ the travel firms will not agree to their demands.

He vowed they are planning ‘something spectacular’ in response, to mark six months of campaigning.

He said: “I’m shocked Northern Rail and SYPTE decided to have a meeting with us and then brought nothing to the table. They listened to us, took note, and then rejected everything. People will be angry when they hear the meeting was a waste of time.

“We see the freedom rides as protests in the sort of style that the Suffragettes or trade unionists protested.

“At the end of this month we mark six months of freedom rides. We will be wanting do to something spectacular.”

Coun Bill Mordue, chairman of Sheffield City Region Combined Authority’s transport committee, said: “We understand some people are upset the concessionary travel scheme had to be changed, and that senior pass holders now have to pay half rail fare. But protesters have to understand this was done reluctantly because there isn’t enough money to fund a free scheme any more.

“Protests are disruptive, they cost taxpayer money to manage, and some people have been breaking the law by travelling without a valid ticket. Our message is firm – we simply can’t afford free rail fares any more. Protesters initially said they would welcome a scheme where users contributed to the cost of travel.”

BRAG meets at Barnsley Library at 11am tomorrow to discuss further plans.