Green Party MP Caroline Lucas
The Green Party today announced plans for an average 10% cut in rail and bus fares, which will be included in its general election manifesto, paid for by increasing public investment in fares by £1.8 billion a year.
The £9 billion investment over the course of the next parliament would be met by scrapping most of the Government’s £15 billion new road building programme.
The announcement came on the day when local Green parties up and down the country joined RMT, Action for Rail, Compass and People’s Assembly protests against the failed privatised rail system. They backed Green MP Caroline Lucas’s Railways Bill that would bring services back into public hands, to allow them to be run for the benefit of passengers, not shareholders. Members of the Green Party were present at Leeds station today to hand out leaflets and talk to the public about the new year rise in rail fares.
Caroline Lucas has rightly criticised what she dubbed the “blatant transfer of public money to private shareholders”, and that “the Public Purse is propping up a failing rail system for private gain. UK railways would be £1 billion better off in public hands.”
She said shambolic services over the Christmas period were typical of “a system that has flatly failed”, and added: “Rail privatisation has become characterised by poor services, cramped trains and extortionate fares. It’s ripping off passengers, harming the economy and failing the environment. This isn’t a call for a throwback to a ‘70s British Rail. The modern, efficient, clean, affordable services enjoyed in other parts of Europe offer a much better blueprint than our own past.”
The UK has some of the highest fares in Europe, and they continue to rocket – vastly out of line with wage rises. As the Green Party candidate for Leeds West I agree wholeheartedly with Caroline and I believe we need to call for an end to a railway designed for private profiteering, at the expense of quality, value and fairness. The only long term solution to high fares and poor services is to bring the railways fully back into public hands. As the son of a retired railwayman this is an issue that I’m very passionate about.
Since 2010 rail fares have gone up around 23% while wages have risen just 6.9%. The latest rises are on average 2.2%. Greens would like to see fares set so there’s a sufficient price advantage between them and private motor transport to attract users away from the car. We would also like to improve the availability of tickets at a wide range of outlets, and simplify the fare structure so there’s a standard rate with reductions for off-peak times, people with low incomes or no incomes like pensioners and children. By building new or opening old stations and lines, and making stations fully accessible we can encourage more people to use the railways. We would look to increase the capacity on the railways and invest in new rolling stock. All of this needs to be part of a fully integrated transport policy that includes improving bus services and cycling facilities to make it easier to get to the railway stations. Bringing the railways back into public ownership is central to delivering these improvements. If elected you can be sure this is an issue I will campaign strongly about.
Summary of today’s announcement
- The Green Party proposes cutting the cost of public transport for passengers by 10% on 2015 ticket prices.
- The 10% cut to fares would be paid for by increasing the level of public investment in rail and bus fares by around £1.8 billion per annum.
- The £9 billion cost over the course of the next parliament would be met by scrapping most of the Government’s £15 billion new road building programme. This would still leave £6 billion for other transport uses.
- This cut to the new roads programme would not affect road repairs or safety improvements to existing roads.
- Under the Green Party’s plans fares would be cut by 10% in 2015 and held at this lower rate in real terms for the duration of the next parliament.
- Over time the Green Party would return the railways to public ownership to secure a cheaper and better service. The Green MP, Caroline Lucas, has proposed a Railways Bill that would bring franchises into public ownership as their contracts expire.
Full briefing document http://greenparty.org.uk/files/Transport%20fares%20briefing%20FINAL.pdf