Medway Green Party Join Protest at Failed Railway System

Medway Green Party members joined a country wide protest on Monday against rising ticket prices, both outside Gillingham Railway station and as travelling commuters. Local Green Parties had been protesting across the country in conjunction with RMT, Action for Rail, Compass and People’s Assembly against the failed railway 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 as well as the Green Party manifesto pledge to cut rail fairs by 10%.

Neil Williams, Medway Green Party member, delivered leaflets and spoke to other passengers as he commuted to work from Rainham.  Neil said:

“Talking both personally and from discussions with my fellow commuters in Rainham, we don’t mind paying a fair price for a good service, but every year the price goes up whilst the quality of the service goes down.

“Commuters understand that outsourcing core services is a very bad idea. Commuters are paying twice for the service, once via the ticket price and again via our taxes that are used to subsidise the private train operators, so that they can pay dividends to their shareholders.

“The service is poor during the week but during weekends it is terrible. More often than not there are engineering works, with old buses used as a replacement service. Also, the engineering works often overrun into Monday morning, causing chaos to the commuter services.”

John Little, Medway Green Party member and twenty year long commuter added:

“I have personal experience of the effect of privatisation. Privatisation delayed the replacement of the old slam door trains. We then experienced the chaos caused by the collapse of Railtrack and the termination of the contract for the service operator Connex. The service has continued to be poor under Southeastern with ticket price rises every year above inflation, but with no improvement in the service.

“We are also unable to use the high speed service unless we pay a premium of £1000 a year on top of our existing ticket price. Yet other services were cut to accommodate the high speed  services into the timetable, so overall services have deteriorated for ordinary passengers. We are now facing two years of disruption and delay from works at London Bridge.”

On the day that these protests were happening across the country, the Green Party, which has a long-standing policy commitment to bring the railways back into public hands, also announced plans (1) 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.

Clive Gregory, Parliamentary Candidate for Rochester and Strood comments:

“Many of our members understand the misery of commuting first hand and will no doubt welcome this announcement along with other commuters in Medway.  This investment would give the people of Medway a much-needed financial break as they travel between communities, to work, to meet up with friends and relatives, and would help us relieve the reliance on carbon-intensive forms of transport.”

Notes: Green Party policy briefing on 10% cheaper fares:

http://greenparty.org.uk/files/Transport%20fares%20briefing%20FINAL.pdf

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