Campaign against rail reform is rolling on in Leeds

A train arrives at Leeds City Station. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
A train arrives at Leeds City Station. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
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Protests are being staged at a number of Yorkshire train stations today over rail fare rises and the threat of job cuts.

Rail union the RMT plans to continue its fight against reform following the New Year season ticket increases of 2.5 per cent which came into effect on Friday.

Campaigning events at Wakefield Kirkgate Station, Leeds City Station and Harrogate Station are taking place this morning from around 7am up until around 9am.

The RMT opposes fare rises, the use of driver only operated trains, the closing of ticket offices, the lessening of staff at stations and cuts to the TransPennine Express (TPE) network.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Our message is clear, the fight to stop the outrageous attack on jobs, safety and services under the Northern and TPE franchise plans continues in 2015 and the union is sending out the clearest possible signal to George Osborne, his Government and Rail North that they need to scrap this attack on transport operations and to cut the hot air about improving services when they are actually condemning the North to years of rail misery.

“Let’s not forget that the core of the Government’s future plans for Northern and TPE is to axe jobs, restrict services, throw the guards off the trains and jack up fares while capacity to meet surging rail demand in the area is left to stagnate. That attack on the fare-paying public has already begun with the abolition of a wide range of off-peak fares and only an all-out and coordinated fight can stop the savage assault on rail in the North.”

The fare rises follow weeks of disruption to rush hour services, with problems for passengers compounded by over-running festive engineering work.

The over-run on the Saturday before New Year led to chaotic scenes, with King’s Cross and Paddington stations in London having to close and Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne announcing he would not be taking his annual performance-related bonus.

Shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher feels that train operating companies had to take a greater burden, not passengers or taxpayers.

He said: “In my view, if someone has to get their hand in their pocket, it’s got to be the operating companies – they are making decent profits still.”

Defending the rail fare rises last week, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin spoke of the Government’s record-high investment in rail through a £38.5billion scheme through Network Rail.

He said: “I accept 2.5 per cent is more than a passenger wants to pay. Any increase is to be regrettable. But it is the fact we’re investing record amounts into the industry so we can get better train services.”