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Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas hits out at 'rip-off' rail fare rises
Passengers face a 4.1% rise in rail fares next year.
It means the cost of an annual season ticket from Brighton to London will soar by £176 to about £4,350.
The Government said the rises will pay for investment in the network.
But Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, slammed the “rip-off” fees and repeated calls for the network to be re-nationalised.
At a protest against the rises at Brighton railway station, she said that the Government could save £1 billion if it put the network back into public ownership.
Petition Passengers were invited to sign a petition against “the extremely high cost of tickets for services provided by Southern and First Capital Connect, which are often overcrowded and unreliable”.
Ms Lucas said: “People are sick of paying a fortune for train services which aren’t good enough.
“We have to put up with unreliable services, overcrowding and some of the highest fares in Europe.
“Since the railways were sold off, the cost of train travel has risen by 17%. And in recent years, the cost to the taxpayer has more than doubled.
“Meanwhile, shareholders are generating huge profits."
She added: “Passengers and taxpayers alike are being ripped off.
"By taking back individual franchises when they expire, or when companies fail to meet their conditions, the Government could save over £1 billion a year every year.
“This is money that could and should be reinvested in services, and also used to reduce fares.
“I hope Labour will support the growing campaign for Britain’s railways to be brought back into public hands.”
Campaigners claim that fares have risen three times faster than wages in the past six years.
Between 2008 and next January rail fares will have jumped by 40%, compared with a 15% increase in average earnings, it is claimed.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Nobody likes to see rail fares go up. I don’t like to see it and passengers don’t like to see it.
“We are massively investing in the railways, with £130 million being spent at Nottingham, £800 million at Reading and £600 million at Birmingham.
“Running the railways is a very expensive business.”
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