Coalition Government ‘privatising profit and socialising loss’, party members say
GREEN Party members were campaigning for the re-nationalisation of the railways at Barnstaple train station yesterday (Thursday), as the line was hit with a further price increase.
South West Greens launched the campaign to bring the First Great Western franchise back into public ownership by handing out leaflets to travellers boarding the busy morning and evening trains yesterday, as prices across Devon and Cornwall rose by 3.1 per cent.
The current franchise expires in two years’ time, with uncertainty still surrounding the Barnstaple to Exeter line’s future ownership.
Bringing the railways back into public ownership is a key Green Party policy, which they claim would lower fares.
Members of the South West Green Party from across the region were out in force on Thursday in a co-ordinated day of action, leafleting at stations including Bristol Temple Meads, Taunton and Exeter St David’s.
Green Party member Ricky Knight felt the day had been a success in Barnstaple.
“Everyone’s taken a leaflet and I hope that it opens people’s minds to today’s price hike of 3.1 per cent.
“The litmus test is that the majority of people support the idea of bringing the railways back into public ownership.
“What really unsettles me is that the coalition government is privatising profit and socialising loss.
“People say this will never happen because the line is far too profitable, but why shouldn’t the public benefit from that?
“We want much more investment in the railways as this is already one of the most profitable lines.”
The Green Party has already launched an e-petition calling for the Great Western franchise to be re-nationalised in two years’ time, which has received more than 1,200 signatures to date.
They point to the success of the publicly owned Directly Operated Railways Company which operates the East Coast mainline franchise, which has delivered £600 million to the Treasury and has raised unregulated prices by significantly less this year.
Lead Green Party European candidate for the South West and creator of the e-petition Professor Molly Scott Cato said: “Yet again passengers are being hit with above inflationary rises in rail fares at a time when wages are stagnant and passengers in the UK are already paying some of the highest fares in Europe. For that they have to endure overcrowded trains and unreliable services.
“Taking back individual franchises when they expire, or when companies fail to meet their conditions, could save the Government over £1 billion a year every year. This is money that could and should be reinvested in services, and also used to reduce fares.
“We urge the public to support our campaign and sign our petition; it’s time to get our railways back on the right track and working for the common good.”