Labour campaigners greet rail commuters on first day back to work
PUBLISHED: 16:48 04 January 2016 | UPDATED: 18:31 04 January 2016
The link between higher rail fares and investment has been broken amid delays to vital projects, Labour’s shadow transport minister has claimed as activists turned out to protest at rail stations across the region.
Commuters using Norwich, King’s Lynn and stations along the Bittern Line were met by Labour activists highlighting ticket prices rises on the first day back to work.
Lilian Greenwood, the shadow transport secretary, also claimed the government was letting down passengers on East Anglia routes, claiming the real terms fare freeze will only be temporary.
Abriefing to potential rail operators in East Anglia stated that bidders could assume fares will rise 1pc above inflation from 2021.
She also said people want certainty they will be delivered what is being promised, including the campaign to run trains from Norwich to London in 90 minutes.
Adam Giles, a Labour Party volunteer who was out leafletting in Norwich, said: “We’ve spoken to a lot of commuters today who are very disappointed about the rail fares going up.
“They don’t feel like the quality of service has improved and they’re having to pay more out of their pocket towards the transport, particularly with the reforms to local government.”
He said the Abellio Greater Anglia franchise was set to expire and his party would like to bring it back into public ownership.
Jo Rust, Secretary of the North West Norfolk constituency Labour party, was among a group of protesters gathered outside King’s Lynn railway station.
“The rail fares may have only gone up by 1pc this time around, which is a positive step. However, it is still an increase for the use of that service and doesn’t help the local economy whatsoever.”
“It is also not reflected in the travel; there are still not enough carriages, the service is infrequent, the trains are dirty, overcrowded and there’s no wifi available.
“People are having to travel further afield for employment, and that travel is essential and people can’t do without it.”
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “We are helping hardworking people with the cost of transport. We’ve put a stop to inflation busting increases in regulated fares until 2020. This will save the average season ticket holder £425 in this Parliament and means earnings are outstripping rail fare increases for first time in a decade.
“For too long, passengers in East Anglia have not had the high-quality rail services that they deserve. Our ambitious requirements will change that by making journeys significantly better than they are now. Passengers will be able to travel between Norwich and London in just 90 minutes in modern, state of the art trains, while there will also be 180 extra services a week between the region’s cities and towns.”