Rail union warns fare hike is ‘taste of things to come’

RMT members lobby commuters at Preston Station
RMT members lobby commuters at Preston Station
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A rail union is claiming “massive public support” for a series of protests held outside stations across the North of England this week.

RMT members have targeted 13 mainline stations, including Preston and Lancaster, over the past two days as part of a campaign against cuts to jobs and services.

The demonstrations coincided with Northern Rail axing some off-peak fares in the region, resulting in some ticket prices more than doubling.

Commuters were handed postcards and urged to to resist plans which the union claims will lead to the “destruction of rail services right across the North.”

Demonstrators were outside Preston’s Butler Street entrance between 7am and 9am yesterday as rail passengers headed for work. They also gathered outside Lancaster Station between 4pm and 6pm on Monday to catch the evening rush.

Passengers were warned the “shock” fare increases brought in this week were “a taste of what’s to come” as the Government seeks to shake up rail services in the North.

“The axing of off-peak fares is a savage kick in the teeth for people already struggling with the burden of low pay and austerity,” said RMT’s acting general secretary Mick Cash.

“The Government’s future plans for Northern Rail and First Trans-Pennine Express is to axe jobs, throw the guards off the trains and jack up fares while capacity to meet surging rail demand in the area is left to stagnate.”

From Monday off-peak tickets on Northern Rail are no longer valid in the midweek evening peak period in areas like Greater Manchester and its associated routes.

The company says the change will reduce the cost of the railway to taxpayers.