5 January 2015
Green Baroness Jenny Jones today backed local campaigners calling to bring the railway network and its operation into public hands.
Local Green Party campaigners joined Union representatives at Exeter St David’s and Central Stations to greet commuters as they headed back to work. The action was one of many across the South West and other parts of the UK taking place in the wake of the annual hike in rail fares.
Diana Moore, the Green Party’s prospective parliamentary candidate in Exeter joined today’s demonstration outside Exeter St David’s station. She said:
“The South West continues to be overlooked when it comes to investment in rail, despite assurances from Ministers to tackle the South West’s chronic rail problems after the collapse of the line at Dawlish. We rely on hand-me-down rolling stock which is often overcrowded in the summer – having a detrimental impact on our tourist sector. We need electrification of the rail network all the way to Penzance and increased frequency of services particularly in the summer and in the evenings. We also need increased capacity and frequency for branch lines and rural services to provide local people with a reliable rail option.”
Ms Moore also called for investment in rail rather than roads:
“Duelling of the track though the Blackdown Hills would be much better value for money than a costly and damaging road scheme. The fact that the government has found at least £15 billion for roads is a sure sign that investment in rail is a matter of political will not because the money isn’t there.”
Baroness Jones, who travels regularly to the South West to visit her family said:
“Our privatized and fragmented railways are today characterised by poor services and some of the most expensive fares in Europe. They’re ripping off passengers, harming the economy and failing the environment.”
Today’s day of action precedes the Second Reading of Green MP Caroline Lucas’ Railways Bill, due in Parliament this Friday. The Bill has gained strong public and political backing and calls for Britain’s rail franchises to be brought back into public ownership as they either fail or their contracts expire.
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