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Passengers join national day of action against increase in rail fares

Protests against an increase in rail fares are taking place at train stations across Kent today.

Campaigners from Action for Rail are organising a day of action as part of a nationwide demand for a publicly rather than privately owned rail network.

The group argues that while fares have increased, customer service has worsened with the closure of ticket offices and cuts to staffing levels.

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West Malling train station this morning
West Malling train station this morning

Kathryn Mackridge, from Action for Rail, said: "This is the Christmas present no one asked for – rather than giving us the gift of proper investment in rail infrastructure and full public ownership, yet again passengers are paying more but getting less.

"While fares keep rising, cuts to services and staffing are taking place across the network – with more ticket offices closing, removal of guards from trains, extension of driver only operations and fewer staff at stations to provide help when we need it."

Video: Passengers protest against rail fare increases

The group calculates that if the rail network were renationalised it would save £1.5 billion which is otherwise paid in dividends to the shareholders of train operating companies.

Protests are taking place at Bromley South, Eltham, Orpington, Whitstable and West Malling.

Action for Rail also organised protests at the major London stations of Liverpool Street, Waterloo and King's Cross.

The average price increase of tickets is 2.3% - 1.8% on Southeastern - while prices have gone up by 25% since the 1990s.

Lianna Etkind, of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: "Today's fare rises are another kick in the teeth for long-suffering rail passengers.

"Many experienced a less frequent and more overcrowded service last year, and now they are required to pay more for the same this year."

Meanwhile, Southeastern Trains has warned passengers to allow for extra time when buying tickets today due to "problems with the ticketing system".

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