Labour’s newly selected Parliamentary Candidate for Stevenage, Jill Borcherds (pictured, right), the Labour Party’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry MP (pictured, left), and the local Stevenage Labour Party were campaigning at the Stevenage Railway Station this morning for an end to Tory mismanagement of the railways: an end to the fragmentation of our railways, and an end to rip-off fares with a fully nationalised rail service. Emily joined the Stevenage Labour team to offer her support in an area of the country badly affected by recent timetable changes, however arrived late herself, ironically due to train cancellations.
Jill Borcherds had the following to say: “Since 2010, when the Conservatives came into government fares have soared; season tickets have risen by over 30%, and large parts of our service sold off to private companies who are more interested in profit than passengers. Simultaneously our services have worsened; a seat on a train has become a luxury with most journeys now having standing room only, and in many cases are completely full, leaving Stevenage commuters stranded on platforms unable to get to work, or get home, affecting families and participation in community events. The Transport Secretary Chris Grayling was warned about the impact timetable changes could have over 3 years ago and failed to act. It seems that this level of incompetence goes rewarded within the current government.
“Labour is demanding full nationalisation of our railways, ensuring that the system is fully in public control, and that all profits are reinvested back into the network and staff, and used to reduce railway transport fares for passengers. Labour is fully on the side of our railway users and workers. I am aware of people losing or changing jobs due to the latest timetable alterations which have created chaos locally and nationally. People are being put off making journeys by train, switching from rail to road, which is worsening our air quality and environment. Recently Virgin Trains East Coast was rightly brought back into public control, but this didn’t go far enough. When we get into government, Labour are going to fix our broken railway system and it is one of my key priorities for the people who live and work in our town.
“This is a huge issue in Stevenage, with many thousands of people commuting to and from the town every day, spending eye-watering four-figure sums annually for cancelled, delayed and over-crowded services. In January, the Great Northern and Thameslink franchise was ranked 23rd out of the 25 train operating companies across Britain, and yet annual Adult standard tickets between Stevenage and King’s Cross with a travelcard now exceed £5000. This is extortionate.
“Not only does this impact the people dependent on our public transport to get to work, it also hits people with medical appointments, causing yet more anxiety at a stressful time, and potentially worsening the health of those who are missing crucial medical appointments, and further costing our NHS money in missed appointments. Only a nationally coordinated public railway will ensure the control Britain needs over its railway network, and only such a system will ensure that people are put before profit. This is costing our people and economy too much.”
Further information on Labour’s campaign can also be found at www.labour.org.uk/rail.