Travel cuts protesters take to Barnsley station

Protests at Barnsley railway station
Protests at Barnsley railway station
Have your say

More than 80 protesters gathered at Barnsley railway station today to make their voices heard over cuts to free train travel for the elderly.

Campaigners known as ‘freedom riders’ are holding three demonstrations at the station this week in a bid to ‘step up the pressure’ in the fight over free travel passes.

Protests at Barnsley railway station

Protests at Barnsley railway station

Earlier this year, free train travel for the elderly and disabled in South Yorkshire was withdrawn, though it has since been reinstated for the disabled.

Demonstrations will be held on Wednesday, on Friday, and on August 19, 21 and every day from August 25 to 29, all at 11am.

Tony Nuttall, Barnsley Retirees Action Group spokesman, said: “The freedom riders were once again prevented from travelling by a massive security presence. It is believed Northern Rail is spending £5,000 on security every time there is a proposed freedom ride.”

The protesters said they are due to meet with the firm - but Northern Rail stressed it will be a discussion about facilitating protests and any decision is up to SYPTE.

A Northern Rail spokesman said: “We have no idea where £5,000 has come from and is certainly not correct. We don’t have a specific cost each time as we don’t pay for British Transport Police officers and our revenue protection staff are deployed where required around the network.

“The concessionary travel scheme is provided by SYPTE and therefore any discussion around the reinstatement of it needs to be managed by them. We are just one of many transport operators which provides transport services throughout the region. We have accepted, in principle, the invitation to a meeting to try to take things forward on how we can resolve the unnecessary confrontation at Barnsley station.”