Christmas card protest against rail fares
By Charles MaggsFollow @charlesmaggs
Trade unions are protesting at train stations across the country today against increases in rail fares and planned cuts.
Action for Rail, a group set up by the TUC, will be handing out Christmas cards to commuters at 50 stations nationwide highlighting concerns about a reduction in services as well as higher travel costs from rail users.
But RMT general secretary Bob Crow wasted no time in pointing out that he wants rail to return to the state sector.
"With the west coast fiasco still playing out, and with savage fare increases only a few weeks away, the campaign for renationalisation of Britain's railways is stepping up a gear," he said.
"To gauge what is at stake when corners are cut we need look no further than the cracked rails on the east coast mainline and the continuing tide of deaths on level crossings and out on the tracks.
"We are fighting to reverse the reductions in jobs and investment and to end the rip-off of privatisation and halt the tidal wave of cuts in the pipeline under the government's McNulty plans."
The group also released figures showing that rail fares will have gone up almost three times as quickly as wages between 2008 and 2013, with tickets rising by an average of 30% in that time.
It was announced on Thursday that Virgin Trains will again be running the key west coast franchise for the next 23 months after the contract had originally be given to First Group.
The Laidlaw review, ordered by new transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin into the west coast fiasco, blamed civil servants for the failures in the original decision-making process that awarded the franchise to First Group.