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Byline: Alan Jones

UNIONS, transport campaigners and rail passenger groups were today staging a day of action to protest at "massive" fare increases and cuts to jobs and services.

A series of demonstrations were being held at railway stations across the country to coincide with news of another fare increase.

The locations included Birmingham New Street, Waterloo, Euston and Kings Cross in London, Newcastle upon Tyne, Liverpool Lime Street, Crewe, Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley.

The Government is allowing train firms to raise fares by three per cent more than RPI inflation from January, based on July's inflation figure, which is published today.

Bob Crow, leader of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said passengers would be "rightly angry" when they discovered the full extent of inflationbusting fare increases imposed on them by government "diktat".

Rail unions warned some fares could jump by 11 per cent from the New Year, while most rush-hour travel, season tickets and offpeak fares will rise by well above the rate of inflation.

Up to 20,000 jobs in the rail industry are at risk under cost-cutting proposals, which will hit station staff, guards, catering and ticket offices, unions said.

Union officials at today's protests stepped up demands for the railways to be returned to public ownership, saying privatisation had led to some of the highest fares in Europe despite a massive increase in taxpayer subsidies to the industry.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: "If the Government sticks by its policy, rail fares will rise three times faster than salaries. With the economy flat-lining, this is untenable.

"The Government knows they can't continue to hit commuters - that's why they've postponed the fuel duty increase. Now they need to give the same help to rail users."

Transport Secretary Justine Greening said: "I am keen to see what we can do to keep rail fares down to something affordable. "I shall be looking at whether there is a way of doing that in the autumn but we have to stick with our deficitreduction policy."


At odds: Transport secretary Justine Greening and (above) RMT Union boss Bob Crow
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 14, 2012
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