Labour reveals plans for ‘biggest ever’ cuts to rail fares
Jeremy Corbyn says the privatisation of Britain’s rail system ‘has ripped off passengers’
The Labour Party has pledged to slash rail fares by 33% if it wins power following the general election next week.
In an eye-catching package of proposals, the party has also promised to simplify ticket prices for part-time workers, make rail travel free for young people under the age of 16 and build a central online booking portal with no booking fees.
Announcing the plans, Jeremy Corbyn said: “Travelling by train is my favourite way of getting around the country but for too long a fragmented and privatised rail system has ripped off passengers.”
The Labour leader said that “taking back control of our railways is the only way to bring down fares and create a railway network that is fit for the future,”. “Labour are on the side of passengers”, he added.
The party’s proposal, billed as the “biggest ever” plan to cut rail fares, is part of a wider plan by the party to nationalise the UK’s train system.
Andy McDonald, the party’s shadow transport secretary, said: “Privatisation has created one of the most complex, exploitative and expensive ticketing systems in the world.
“Labour will scrap the bewildering and outdated fares and ticketing system that discriminates against part-time workers, discourages rail travel and excludes the young and low-paid.”
However, Conservative Transport Secretary Grant Shapps described the proposals as “desperate” and “another attempt to distract from their inability and unwillingness to be straight with people on where they stand on Brexit”.
BBC business correspondent, Katie Prescott, said that Labour’s policies would “see a reverse in the direction of travel for policies on train fares since privatisation”. Prescott added that, since 1995, successive governments “have tried to move the day-to-day cost of running the railways onto fare-payers and away from the taxpayer”.
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The news comes as prolonged industrial action is due to hit thousands of passengers this month, after South Western Railway (SWR) and the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union failed to reach a deal over the role of guards on trains.
SWR provides a daily average of 600,000 passenger journeys, operating out of Britain’s busiest railway station, London Waterloo, to regions including Surrey and Hampshire, says The Guardian.
Strikes will last from 2 December until the end of New Year’s Day, breaking only for the general election on 12 December, and for Christmas Day and Boxing Day – when there are no trains running.
Sky News says it is “the longest stretch of action against a major rail operator in living memory”.