Action for Rail campaigners protest at Worthing Station
Campaigners gathered outside Worthing station to protest the increase in rail fares and to call for public ownership of the railway.
On the day that the government announced a 1.99% rise in train ticket prices, Action for Rail protesters handed out leaflets and spoke to commuters at peak morning and afternoon hours on Tuesday, August 16.
Dan Sartin, the chair of the Worthing and District Trades Union council, said the main reasons for the protest were to call for public ownership of the railway, safety, to keep staff at stations and for afforable fare prices.
Mr Sartin said: “Something urgently needs to be done. We’re here to raise awareness among passengers.
“Fares are rising while passengers are getting a substandard service from Southern Rail. Its critical to have a functioning rail system but they’re not functioning how they need to be.
“Our elected representatives need to take notice of the problems and put pressure on the government.”
He said that guards are being removed from trains and the number of staff at stations is decreasing.
“I live in Worthing and I travel to Chichester everyday. I pay about 15 hundred pounds a year for my rail fare and for that money, I expect there to be a guard on the train. There is already chaos on the platform in Chichester.
“Passengers are paying through the nose but the money is being siphoned off to private companies. It was crazy to ever have privatised the rail and its time to face up to its failures.”
According to figures from the Action for Rail campaign, fares have risen at double the speed of wages, increasing by 25% in the past six years while average weekly earnings have grown by 12%.
Sam Theodoridi, 20, a member of Unison and the Labour Party who lives in Worthing, joined the protest. He said: “I’m appalled by the level of service from Southern Rail. They have refused to negotiate with the union, when the union have put forward fair proposals.
“The unions have rejected all offers of better pay which proves that this is a safety issue, not the union wanting power and control.”
“I believe Govia should be stripped of the rail franchise due to poor service and that guards should be kept on trains.
Pauline Fraser, a retired teacher from Worthing who was handing out leaflets to commuters, said: “I would like to see the franchise taken back into public ownership.
“The train companies have been putting fares up but subjecting commuters and passengers to the most appalling apology of a service.
“They seem to be attacking the workforce, a workforce that wants safety as a priority. While the rail is in private hands, profit for the investors is a priority, rather than passenger safety and comfort at a price they can afford.”