Call for national railway network as fares set to rise

PROTEST: Labour supporters Jane Basham (left) and Angela Wiltshire joined TUC members at Sudbury station on Tuesday to oppose fare rises.
PROTEST: Labour supporters Jane Basham (left) and Angela Wiltshire joined TUC members at Sudbury station on Tuesday to oppose fare rises.

Possible fare increases for commuters travelling from Sudbury have led campaigners to call for the rail network to be nationalised.

New inflation figures mean fares will rise by an average of 4.1 per cent across the country from January – one per cent above the retail price index of 3.1 per cent.

Trade Union Congress and South Suffolk Labour representatives protested against the increase at Sudbury train station on Tuesday, handing out leaflets urging commuters to contact MP Tim Yeo.

Angela Wiltshire, from Hadleigh, who made an unsuccessful attempt to become a Labour town councillor last month, said: “Commuters were quite angry.

“They were unhappy with the rise and the infrastructure at Sudbury station.

“It is costing them a lot of money to get to work and wages aren’t going up enough to compensate.”

Mrs Wiltshire said the Labour party and a newly-formed trades council for south Suffolk were calling for re-nationalisation.

“I remember when it was British Rail – the service was a bit shabby and trains weren’t as clean but they were more on time and people weren’t so concerned at this time of year,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia, which operates the service between Sudbury and London, said: “Decisions on Greater Anglia fares from January 2014 will be made at a later date.”

The average increase on an annual season ticket from Sudbury to London Liverpool Street, including travel between zones one to six, would mean a jump of £222 to £5,650.

Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said the Government’s policy on setting fare rises above inflation allowed investment in the network.

“This is helping to drive passenger satisfaction to near record levels while seeking to reduce taxpayers’ contribution towards the cost of running the railways,” he said.

“The industry is working with the Government to find ways of providing services even more efficiently, building on the progress that has already been made.”