Today is the 20th anniversary of the privatisation of British Rail.
The Railways Act 1993 was introduced by John Major’s government and received Royal Assent on 5th November 1993.
Medway Labour Group has been campaigning at local railway stations for “Fair Fares” as part of a wider, national campaign “Action for Rail”.
Leader of Medway Labour Group Vince Maple said: “This anniversary is particularly relevant in the context of soaring rail ticket prices and the privatisation of Royal Mail. Medway Labour has been out campaigning for South Eastern commuters today at Medway railway stations- the campaign was very well received and we distributed around two thousand leaflets. Campaign for Better Transport and the TSSA Union have been really strong on this issue and I welcome the opportunity to campaign alongside them.”
Deputy Leader of Medway Labour Group Teresa Murray said: “Those who rely on the railway to get to work will know only too well the cost of travel. I’ve been campaigning locally on this issue and it’s something that people really care about yet the Tories ignore. The East Coast line is a state-run railway service and it could be the way forward for our railways- not for private profit. Profits can be put into service improvements and not shareholders’ pockets.
Privatisation was intended to attract private investment to the rail network; instead, the investment has come from public money while private interests make large profits.”
Tristan Osborne, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Chatham & Aylesford, said: “Unlike Medway Conservative MPs who are entitled to subsidized rail transport I pay full fares like everyone else as a regular daily South Eastern commuter.
“People are angry that the government has extended the SouthEastern franchise without any consultation and feel let down by Tory MPs who are backing a potential 6.1% increase in fares taking into account ‘flex’ under David Cameron. Conservative MPs are simply not standing up for those who commute by train. It is time our government cut fares by looking at ‘not-for-profit’ franchise models that do not subsidise foreign national rail companies”
Naushabah Khan, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Rochester and Strood, said: “Having been a regular SouthEastern commuter for a number of years I have suffered annual fare rises whilst the level of service remains unchanged. This recent decision to extend SouthEastern’s franchise without any consultation is just another blow for train users.
As people face the greatest cost of living crisis in a generation, we need to look at real alternatives to funding rail transport in this country including ‘not for profit models’ that have worked well elsewhere.
It’s about time local Conservative MPs stopped paying lip-service to this issue and started taking action.”
Paul Clark, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Gillingham and Rainham, said: “The Government’s handling of the rail franchise process has been a shambles – on the abortive West Coast Mainline franchise which has cost the taxpayers millions, leading to franchises just being extended without any thought to the fare paying passenger, such as SouthEastern.
“The time has come for a grown-up debate on the future of the railways, 20 years on from the Tories’ dash for privatisation under John Major.”