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Railway Children star hands petition to Downing Street as rail fares rises branded a tax on passengers

7 November 2011
A petition with more than 11,000 signatures calling for fairer rail fares was handed in to 10 Downing Street this morning by Railway Children star Jenny Agutter, as campaigners brand fare rises a tax on passengers.

Campaign for Better Transport, which organised the petition as part of the Fair Fares Now campaign, has accused the Government of misleading passengers by claiming rail fares rises are necessary to reduce the amount of taxpayer money spent on the railways. In fact the Government’s contribution is already on the decline and official figures show the target of only 25 per cent taxpayer support for the railways is set to be met without the need for these new fare hikes. 

The petition calls on the Government to scrap the planned above inflation rail fare increases which will see fares soar 28 per cent by 2015. 

Alexandra Woodsworth, Campaign for Better Transport’s public transport campaigner, said: “The Government is misleading passengers and trying to disguise a political choice as a necessity. With inflation at a 20 year high and millions of commuters already struggling on frozen wages, this tax on passengers is the wrong choice at the wrong time. The Government is refusing to say how much will be raised from fare rises, which makes a complete mockery of their commitment to greater transparency and undermines public trust. The Government should come clean with passengers.” 

Actor and celebrity patron Jenny Agutter said: “Taking the train should be a pleasure, not a chore. Through the Fair Fares Now petition, passengers in their thousands have spoken out against rising fares and overcrowded trains. I hope the Government listens and takes steps to make trains more affordable and reliable - starting by cancelling the planned fare rises.” 

Campaign for Better Transport has attempted to find out how much the Government will make by raising the cap on regulated fares, but repeated requests under the Freedom of Information Act have been refused. The transport charity is now taking the inquiry to the Information Commissioner’s office, which has the power to order public bodies to release information.

A selection of images of Jenny Agutter, commuter Carol Clements and Campaign for Better Transport’s Alexandra Woodsworth at Downing St are available here. Please credit all photos to Robin Prime. For high res versions contact the press office.

Notes to editors

1. Campaign for Better Transport launched the Fair Fares Now campaign in January to call for cheaper, simpler, fairer rail ticketing. Visit the website for more information www.fairfaresnow.org.uk
2. The Government announced in the Spending Review that regulated fares will increase by RPI+3% for three years from 2012, meaning fares will be on average 28 per cent higher by 2015.
3. The 2007 Rail White Paper set out plans to move to 25 per cent taxpayer and 75 per cent farepayer contribution to the costs of running the railways (as opposed to the previous 50/50 split) by 2014. The 2011 McNulty Rail Value for Money Study, a Government sponsored review of costs in the rail industry, showed that the taxpayer contribution had already fallen to 35 per cent and the trend was set to continue.
4. Campaign Better Transport’s Freedom of Information request for the forecasts of how much revenue raised by the shift to RPI+3% will go to the Government has been refused twice, primarily on the grounds of commercial sensitivity.
5. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).