As many people prepare for their first day back to work after the Christmas break, rail campaigners are warning that commuters on the UK s privatised railways could be spending more than twice as much of their salary on rail travel than passengers on publicly-owned railways in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. See Friday’ s press release from Action for Rail here.
Up and down the country supporters of Action for Rail are organising leafleting and protests today. Actions are taking place at least 50 stations. Details are shown at http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/public_ownership_for_railways_protest .
Groups in supporting the January 5th call-out include the local People's Assembly groups, local Green and Labour Party branches, Unite community branches, and various Climate groups.
Peter Robinson, who is co-ordinating the protests, says: "The experience of the publicly owned East Coast Mainline network suggests that returning the railways to public ownership would mean a better service for significantly lower fares.
Today the railways receive more in public subsidies than they did under British Rail, with 90% of operating profits being paid out in dividends. It’s time we stopped the gravy train and returned to a fully integrated public service run for the benefit of passengers not shareholders.
The number of actions today have greatly exceeded my expectations; people will be protesting outside more than 50 stations, and many wanted to join in at the last moment but couldn’t do so. We are planning similar and better actions on April the 1st . Not only is this April Fool’s Day, and we must expose how the government have tried to fool us that the railway franchises are a good thing, but also, I believe, it is the 21st anniversary of the decree to privatise the rail service. "
HERE ARE SOME NOTES FROM THE VARIOUS STATIONS.
Good response at Barnsley station to leafleting. Interestingly enough a couple of British Transport Police turned up (I know that they and Northern Rail pick up on emails I send out). They were surprisingly friendly not even moving on some leafleters who stood on the bridge linking the platforms.
The idea of repeating on April 1st seems a good one.
The leafletting session at Moor Street station went really well last night. There were 10 of us there with 4 from Birmingham People's Assembly, some people from the Green Party and the others people concerned by the issue who knew of the action from the PA and other websites. Leaflets were well received and no hassles.
The New Street one went well, there were only a handful of us but we were met with enthusiasm.
Could you pass on my belated thanks to everyone who got up early on Monday morning to make the rail fares protest such a success.
I haven't had reports from London Road and Preston Park but I assume these went off without a hitch. There was a great turn out at Brighton, with about 30 people helping with the leafleting, including an MP, a parliamentary candidate, and a General Secretary. Also - good to see - some local RMT officers.
We attracted a lot of press photographers and managed to do interviews with BBC Radio Sussex.
One photo's of the Brighton protests is shown , thanks to Sam Tarry, and photo's and reports from some of the other 50-odd stations where protests were held can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/897273553646711 and http://actionforrail.org/rail-campaigners-protest-new-year-fare-rise-and-call-for-public-ownership/.
Thanks again, and I hope to see you all for the next round in April - Ken
Bristol Temple Meads
Bristol People's Assembly joined with Bristol Green Party, Unite the Union/RMT/TSSA activists, and renationalisation campaigners at Temple Meads Station today... to send a clear message to government & rail companies and spread the word among commuters: we've ALL had enough of #RipOffFares and we want our Railways back in #PublicOwnership without 'delay'!
The local paper has given full page coverage for 3 days !
About 30 people took part in our 5 - 6 pm session on Monday and we have agreed to do it on the first Monday of each month until the election.
Here is a picture from Derby railway station this morning.
Only one woman in the picture (Nadine from the TSSA), but there were a lot more at the other entrance. In all we had about 15 people including two from the rail unions, an official from Unite, and activist from the FBU and a handful of environmentalists. The leaflets seemed to go down very well. None were thrown to the ground! Lots of people seen to be reading them.
BBC East Midlands today came down (too early) and filmed some of us. Radio Derby interviewd Peter Robinson and here is the link Radio Derby, (available for 4 weeks): http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02fk09l and go forward 1 hour, 20 minutes and 30 seconds.
As requested, here is the link to the article in today's Dorset Echo which includes a lengthy quote from Green MEP Molly Scott Cato putting the case for public ownership of the railway.
Exeter St David's was really worth doing. Exeter Green Party were there from 7am. I gave away 82 leaflets and on the train to and from Crediton, where I live. Encouraging responses and some even delighted!
Here’s coverage of our event yesterday. We were pleased with the turn-out about 20 people.
Thanks again for organising
We had 9 people out at Ipswich station on Monday evening from 5.00 pm. The event was organised by Suffolk Peoples Assembly.
Another group were planning to leaflet Sudbury Station in the morning.
The glossy leaflet was good, although we didn't have enough of them, despite printing 100 ourselves. The response from members of the public was very favourable.
Like the last time we leafleted the station, a guard came out to question whether we had the right to be there.
I asked if he was a union member and he replied that he was in TSSA. I pointed out the leaflet was printed by TSSA and therefore the policy of his union. After which we never heard from him again.
All of the leaflets and cards we had were distributed by 6.30 pm.
Natalie on Time To Act
I and my partner were at Manchester Oxford Road on Monday evening - the turnout was very good actually (more supporters turned up soon after the photograph was taken as posted by Andy), and many leaflets etc were given out.
Lots of interest in the campaign, though equally lots of seemingly disinterested commuters rushing for their trains!
There was a really good turn out this evening and a fantastic mix of people from all different groups, or from no group. A few went over to Piccadilly station so that that was covered too. The response from the public was good. At one point, I needed Octopus arms so many were taking leaflets at once. Of course, there were periods where only a minority took them. But on the whole, more were definitely taking than not taking.
I took down a few emails because it occurred to me that it might be good to have a google group just for the rail protests in Manchester. But I don't want to create work for myself or duplicate anything already done. There doesn't seem to be one organised list so maybe it would be useful, and if it would, the work of merely entering them is fine and I'm happy to do it and then anyone and everyone could use it to organise future protests and to communicate in-between them. What do you think?
There was one youngish lad saying - this is great, I care about this more than anything else. Please keep me in touch. Also, yesterday, Alec Mcfadden was saying how he wants to build this and make it a really big pre election issue. Someone else at the action today was saying how there's a group of rail workers who support it who are not in any political grouping but just want things to go back to being nationalised.
Seems like a really broad and effective alliance. I know it was your feeling long ago that this could be big and I think you are so right.
Well done . Comrades. Thats great. News Liverpool was also successful .maybe we should now try and pressure the Labour Party to agree to support taking the railway system into public ownership. ?
We had a great event. At least 10 people. Run out of 400_leaflets in one hour and a half. We had banners and placards. Two newspapers and two photographers turned up. Expecting to listen to interviews on radio and comments on Swindon Adveriser today. Press releases got journalists out. Green Party and CP presence was welcomed.
Decent turnout and positive response at morning and lunch sessions, PM session cancelled as ran out of materials! Local media coverage on BBC Radio, Signal 1 Radio and local papers. Today's event has gained an item in local paper on Saturday and one today; see below:
Stoke had a Green Party member wearing a party rosette. Other than that we had the 3 posters provided and 4 People's Assembly placards with "No more austerity" on one side and "No Cuts" on the other. We brought those along as the PA is a supporting group, and it helped to make a visual "splash" for the press photographers since our leaflets were photocopies not the colour version I saw at other stations. There were no Labour Party materials or other "party-political" materials.
We did not have any BBBR materials/banners etc locally which was a real shame - I tried to buy a T-shirt in advance but they had all gone! I did make the point that BBBR were not the only group taking part in the Action for Rail campaign and thus is was unreasonable to expect to only see BBBR banners etc.
My comments to the Press were specifically addressing the renationalisation of Rail and also the cost of fares, with some side mentions of the ecological benefits to getting people off the roads and onto mass public transportation. Briefly drawn into comment on HS2 and wider infrastructure problems with road and rail.
http://www.signal1.co.uk/news/local/protests-over-rail-fare-rises/ - my comments on this local radio interview.
This link should take you to the Facebook thread with the discussion: https://m.facebook.com/events/897273553646711?view=permalink&id=908012025906197&comment_id=909861735721226
4 North Staffs People's Assembly members leafleted from 7:30 until their leaflets ran out at around 8:45 - very positive response from commuters with lots of support for a renationalised railway run for the benefit of the nation, not private profiteers.
A group of over 30 local people including rail users, 3 councillors, some members of Totnes Traffic and Transport Forum, Totnes Living Street, Friends of the Earth, the local Green Party, Transition Town Totnes, took part in a friendly protest at Totnes Railway station from 5 to 7 pm.
The action went very well. There was an overwhelming response in favour returning to public ownership and of course anger about the increasing cost of fares and the poor travelling conditions and service.
A petition was started and Postcards were distributed to be sent to Sarah Wollaston.
The majority of people we spoke to, believe that privatisation of our railways was short-sighted and a serious mistake. The results have been disastrous for all rail users, the economy and the environment. Also, public subsidy of rail travel has increased since privatisation and that returning it to public ownership would save money by reducing the subsidy.
Totnes Town Council is supporting this important campaign.
Caroline Lucas (Green MP for Brighton) is presenting A Private Member's Bill this coming Friday, the 9th in the House of Commons, so Totnes Rail Action group is asking people in favour of the re-nationalisation of the Railways to send an email asking Sarah Wollaston, MP to support the Bill before Friday.
An online petition can be found at: http://www.bringbackbritishrail.org/
Totnes will be participating in the Action day on the 1st of April, this time we will be better prepared, more time to get all the material and strategy together, though we managed to transform the 2 PDFs documents you sent me into postcards, leaflets and 10 Placards!
One of us went on to the council meeting that night and ask the town council to back the demand for returning the Railways to public ownership and they did, unanimously! So good news on that front too.
We're going to keep the campaign alive by organising petition sessions from now on until April, people are very concerned about this issue and also I've learnt that there's going to be an action on the 7th of March about the Climate, people have asked me about that too and as the Campaign Again Climate Change is also part of the Rail campaign maybe we can join that together?
Waterloo went really well, we had over 10 people handing out leaflets and got rid of all our materials before we were removed from the property by network rail security. Great mix of Compass, People’s Assembly, Action for Rail, Green Party and BBBR all represented :) Unfortunately my phone ran out of battery so I couldn’t post pictures.
Three of us turned up between 0700 – 0900 and one returned in the evening between 1700-1800 hours at Wokingham Station.
We were reps of the local Green Party (also PA), and the local Labour party.
Most leaflets were handed out and towards the end of the evening shift some leaflets were placed on seats on trains on both up and down lines as they arrived in the station as additional reading material for commuters.
Most leaflets were accepted when offered, two commuters returned for a letter when they learnt that their train was cancelled and another returned because of a train delay!
A station manager asked one of us to move off the station premises and when the request was refused he called the Transport Police who reluctantly asked us to move off of railway premises.
By then the morning shift was almost complete so further leaflets were handed out on the highway leading to the station!
There was an overall impression that most commuters agreed with the action and the arguments for corporate ownership and this in a very “blue” constituency!
Today's event has gained an item in local paper on Saturday and one today; see below