South Yorkshire rail cuts protesters to meet SYPTE and Northern Rail

Tony Nuttall
Tony Nuttall
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Protesters campaigning against the removal of free train travel for the elderly in South Yorkshire could be set for a three-way meeting with the rail and travel bodies at the heart of the dispute.

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive confirmed it will sit down with Barnsley Retirees Action Group and Northern Rail next month in response to the ongoing dispute between the protesters and rail bodies.

BRAG members have been holding rallies and ‘freedom rides’ in Barnsley and Sheffield for several months to protest against the withdrawal of free train travel for the elderly in South Yorkshire by SYPTE.

Campaigners have seen some success after the body reinstated free travel for the disabled.

The action group is set to meet again at Barnsley railway station today from 11am, followed by another protest on Thursday at the same time. Protesters will then hold a week of campaigning from Monday, meeting at the station every day at 11am.

BRAG spokesman Tony Nuttall said: “We welcome the meeting. I think we would argue with Northern Rail that they are running the trains anyway so they might as well let elderly people travel for free.”

SYPTE deputy interim director general David Young said: “Together with Northern Rail, we will meet with protesters to listen to their views.

“There are no plans to further enhance the concessionary scheme. Budget pressures remain and the budget position for 2015-16 looks even more challenging as a result of further cuts to local authority funding announced by Government.

“Funding does not exist to further enhance the concessionary scheme.

“This has been made clear to the protesters, who initially said they welcomed the half-fare scheme. I would remind protesters that travelling on a train without a valid ticket is illegal, is theft, and could result in arrest.”