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From: The Socialist issue 883, 6 January 2016: Fight the flood of cuts

Search site for keywords: Public transport - Rail - Fares - Transport - Britain - Jeremy Corbyn - RMT

UK's private rail fares six times public rates

Dan Smart

Workers in Britain spend six times as much of their salaries on privatised rail fares as Europeans who use publicly owned services, a new study has shown.

Research by trade union campaign Action for Rail has found UK passengers spend a whopping 13% of their pay packet on travel. Compare this with 2% in Italy, 3% in Spain, 4% in Germany and 10% in France.

The 375.90 monthly season ticket from Chelmsford to London would cost just 37 for the same 29-mile distance in Rome, where rail is publicly owned.

Rip-off

Prices have been rising above inflation for more than a decade. The latest annual 'rail rip-off day' increased fares by a further 1.1%. Mick Cash, general secretary of transport union RMT, said people in Britain would "awake to another kick in the teeth from the greedy private train companies."

It is no surprise, then, that an overwhelming 62% of the population think that fares are exorbitant and support renationalisation of the railways.

Action for Rail estimates that, by taking rail franchises and their vast profits back into public ownership, passengers and taxpayers could save 1.5 billion over the next five years.

We could also use part of these resources to solve overcrowding and ageing infrastructure.

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to take railways back into public ownership - but only as contracts expire. This will take years, prolonging the misery and risking leaving the job half done.

Corbyn should take up the Socialist Party's demand: renationalise all public transport immediately, with compensation paid only on the basis of proven need.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our Fighting Fund.

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Article dated 6 January 2016

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Thurrock council workers striking against pay cuts, photo by Dave Murray

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