Protesters gather outside railway station

Rail fare protest at St Leonards Warrior Square station

More than a dozen residents protested outside St Leonards Warrior Square railway station on Tuesday evening (January 2) after the biggest ticket price increase in five years.

The average cost of regulated rail fares across the country rose by 3.4 per cent in line with the Retail Prince Index measure of inflation from last July.

Some commuters saw their season tickets increase by around £100 a year.

Jonathan Lee, a member of trade union Unison, joined the protest at St Leonards Warrior Square and said: “We were there to protest against this year’s 3.4 per cent increase in rail fares.

“We had a positive response from commuters who understand what we are trying to do.

“We have supported the RMT with the guard issue on the point of safety and wanted to join the national campaign to protest against the price increase.”

The Rail Delivery Group, which brings together train operators and Network Rail, suggested that 97p in every pound goes directly back to operating and investing in services.

But the RMT union, which is due to hold its latest strike on Monday, January 8, over the further extension of driver-only operation on Southern services, claimed passengers were paying more for ‘less and less’.

General Secretary of the RMT Mick Cash said: “While the British passenger is being bled dry, the same private companies who are coining it in are axing safety-critical staff and slashing security on our trains and stations in the name of even fatter profits. It’s a national scandal that private profit comes before public safety on our rail network.

“Even worse, with 75 per cent of Britain’s railways in overseas hands, it is the British people, paying the highest fares in Europe, who are subsidising state-run rail operations in Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam while the Tory government refuse to even consider the public ownership option in their own back yard.

“The answer to this racket is a full return to public ownership of Britain’s railways and an end to this gross profiteering at the fare-payers expense.”

A spokesperson for GTR added: “As we continue to modernise the railway to give passengers faster, more frequent and more reliable journeys, fares on Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern, and Gatwick Express services will rise by less than the rate of inflation, by an average of 3.33 per cent.

“Southern’s great value cheapest advance fare between London and the coast has been frozen at £5 for the tenth year running, saving over 40 per cent on a super off peak ticket, and the Gatwick Express single fare has been frozen for the 5th year running.

“Accompanied child flat fares are still £2 (half the price of that offered in many other parts of the country) and our DaySave rate has risen only 2.6 per cent.”

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