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Travel misery amid fares protests

Travel misery amid fares protests
Rail unions, passenger groups and other campaigners have been lobbying travellers at 50 train stations across the UK


Published: 12:48am, 11th December 2012
Updated: 3:46pm, 11th December 2012

Rail travellers have suffered fresh disruption to services as protests were held across the country against rising fares and threatened cuts.

The worst of the delays were in the West Midlands when an electrical supply problem led to hold-ups of up to an hour in Wolverhampton and a broken down train caused delays between Kidderminster and Birmingham.

Campaigners said the problems, on top of delays to services over the past few weeks, showed the need for extra investment in the system.

Rail unions, passenger groups and other campaigners held demonstrations at more than 50 train stations across the UK, warning that 2013 will see fare rises, ticket office closures, staff cuts and more delays and disruption to services.

Average train fares have increased by more than 26% since the start of the recession, almost three times faster than wages, new research revealed.

Thousands of cards were handed out to commuters to be sent to MPs urging support for the renationalisation of the railways. Unions said the study, published to mark nationwide protests against high fares, showed how commuters and other passengers were suffering "transport poverty".

A spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies said: "The average increase for all fares in the new year will be 3.9%. Fare rises are determined largely by Government policy, and the Chancellor confirmed the Government's approach for next year in the Autumn Statement.

"Railway funding can only come from the taxpayer or from the passenger, and the Government's policy remains that a bigger share must come from people who use the train. We know nobody likes paying more for their journey, especially to go to work. Train companies will continue working with the rest of the industry to become more cost efficient."

Later, trains in and out of London's Victoria station were delayed for up to 45 minutes by a signalling problem at Battersea Park in south London. And only a day after London Mayor Boris Johnson officially opened a London Overground "missing link" section of track, a signal failure in this area - at Surrey Quays - led to delays between Canada Water and Queens Road Peckham.

In Scotland, a signalling problem meant trains between Glasgow Central and East Kilbride were starting and terminating at Busby.

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