Rail unions protest in Cardiff and Swansea at fare rise

Rail ticket and cash
Image caption Protesters claim commuters face fare rises and service cuts in the new year

Trade unions have held protests in Cardiff and Swansea against the rising costs of rail travel and planned cuts.

The TUC Action for Rail protests were staged at 50 railway stations across the UK.

Unions say fares have risen three times as much as wages over the last four years.

The Association of Train Operating Companies says it is the government that decides average season ticket increases, and not train companies.

The protests came after the Association of Train Operating Companies announced new-above inflation fare levels for next year.

The campaign's supporters handed out Christmas cards with a "seasonal message" from the train companies.

The message claims that along with fare rises in the new year, commuters will have a 2013 "packed full of cancelled trains, staff cuts and ticket office closures" while the train companies are "making huge profits".

The union point to research by claiming rail privatisation is subsidised to the tune of £1.2bn a year, which would bring an 18% cut in rail fares if it was eliminated.

'Dramatic rise'

Rob Jenks, of transport and travel union TSSA, said: "We want to point out the dramatic rise in rail fares, a 30% increase in rail fares, compared to the average increase in people's wages of 11.9%.

"So you can see there's a huge gap between what people can afford to pay and what people are having to pay.

"It's about fares, it's also about all the cuts the industry is facing as the government tries to allegedly balance the books but without taking the opportunity to actually look at what public ownership would bring and all the savings that would make by cutting out profit and various other things."

The protests were held at Cathays, Cardiff Central, and Queen Street stations in Cardiff and Swansea station.

The Association of Train Operating Companies has said that it is the government "not train companies that decides how much season tickets should rise on average each year".

"Successive governments have instructed train companies every year to increase these regulated fares on average by more than inflation," a spokesman said last week.

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