Beccles protestors call for railway system change

Green Party activisits campaigning against rail fare increases.Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw, Nicky Elli

Green Party activisits campaigning against rail fare increases.Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw, Nicky Elliott and Graham Elliott at Beccles station. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Train passengers in Beccles were urged to support a campaign to bring the railways back into public ownership and reduce fares during a protest in the town this week.

Protests against the latest fare increases were staged outside Beccles train station, along with train stations in Lowestoft and Norwich on Monday, led by the Green Party’s prospective parliamentary candidates for this year’s general election.

The rise sees regulated fares, which includes season tickets, increase by up to 2.5pc, while the average rise for all fares is 2.2pc.

An off-peak return fare from Lowestoft to London Liverpool Street will now cost £53 instead of £51.80.

Graham Elliott, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Waveney, was joined in Beccles by Green Party members Nicky Elliott, Margaret Sheppard and Dannii Powell, along with Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw who will be standing for the Green Party in the district council elections.

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He said: “The year on year increases in fares is unacceptable. The Green Party would bring the railways back into public ownership and reduce fares. A joined-up railway network should be an essential component of a truly integrated transport system working for the common good instead of for shareholders.

“The cost of bringing the railways back into public hands would be nil and the benefits could be considerable.”

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The rail fare increase is the same rate as inflation and will mean that fares in this country remain among the highest in Europe.

Mr Elliot urged people to support Green Party MP Caroline Lucas’ Railways Bill, which calls for the railways to be brought fully back into public hands.

The bill has its second reading today.

Ms Lucas said: “We have overcrowded trains and shockingly poor services. Given we have some of the highest fares in Europe, it’s an especially bitter pill.

“Many of my constituents are struggling with the constant unfair price hikes. I’ve been calling for a freeze on fares and more flexible, part time season tickets.

“I’m also lobbying for services to be further expanded. But the only long term solution to high fares and poor services is to bring the railways fully back into public hands, which is what my Parliamentary Bill seeks to do.”

Green Party members believe that bringing the railways back into public ownership could save up to £1.2 billion each year, would allow communities the chance to have their say on timetable proposals, service levels and ticketing systems, would increase connectivity and reduce travel times and allow reductions in a number of ticket types.

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