by Rory MacKinnon Corporate Affairs reporter
Enraged passengers and transport workers rallied outside dozens of stations across the country today against "daylight robbery" rail fares.
The #FareFail protests, led by the Together For Transport coalition, called on passengers to pile the pressure on MPs to stop skyrocketing rail fares.
Price rises since last month have seen regulated fares across Britain go up by an average 4.2 per cent‚ when inflation is projected at 3 per cent.
The rise also marks the third year in a row of fare increases outstripping both inflation and increases in earnings, going by 5.9 per cent last year and 6.2 per cent the year before.
All in all average fares have increased by 22 per cent in real terms since was privatised British Rail in 1995, with commuters paying the highest rates in Europe for day returns and season tickets.
In York TUC and TSSA union activists handed out hundreds of flyers to morning commuters, while Green Party MP Caroline Lucas joined protesters in Brighton and fellow Green MEP Keith Taylor waved a Valentines-themed "Love Trains - Hate High Fares" placard outside Tonbridge station.
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett joined King's Cross commuters in London and highlighted how much the environment was paying the price as well as as impoverished passengers.
"It's very much a case of getting people out of their cars and out of planes. Rail company policies are forcing people onto the roads," she said.
The Rail Maritime and Transport union's general secretary Bob Crow joined members at London's Liverpool St station, joking that Britain's railways should kiss and make up for Valentines' Day.
"Instead of breaking our hearts, RMT is calling once again for the fragments of Britain's railways to be bonded back together in one publicly-owned, publicly-run service freed from the exploitation that two decades of privatisation has brought to the network."
The Transport Salaried Staff Association's Manuel Cortes said that fares had spiralled out of control, straining family budgets and had effectively become "a tax on going to work."
He said: "The train operators have been allowed to get away with daylight robbery. It's time that was stopped."
Transport Minister Norman Baker told reporters he acknowledged family budgets were being squeezed.
That was why the coalition had ordered train operators to raise their fares by an average of no more than 1 per cent above inflation next year, he said.
For more information visit www.farefail.org or www.bringbackbritishrail.org.
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