Socialist Worker

Barnsley Freedom Riders put rail bosses on the back foot

by Dave Gibson
Issue No. 2416

Barnsley Freedom Riders on Monday

Barnsley Freedom Riders on Monday (Pic: Matthew Reeve)

About 80 Freedom Riders protested outside Barnsley station on Monday of this week demanding the right to free train travel.

They are a group of older and disabled people in South Yorkshire who have been fighting for the last five months to regain the right to free train travel which was cut. 

This was the first Freedom Ride of three weeks of planned protests.

Police blocked the entrance to the station. The continued pressure has forced concessions. Disabled people won back their right to free train travel and there were concessions for pensioners too. 

On Monday Northern Rail managers indicated a willingness for negotiation with the campaigners, after months of confronting protests with heavy policing, including arrests. 

They were set to announce further details on Wednesday of this week. 

One of the campaigners, George Arthur, said, “Our protests are working. There would not even be the prospect of talks if we had not kept protesting.”

The Freedom Riders cheered the news that there was the prospect of talks.  They also cheered Fran Postlethwaite, another of the campaigners, when she said, “I was asked by a journalist when we will stop campaigning. I replied, ‘When we get free train travel back’.”

Barnsley Trades Council is setting up a defence campaign for two Freedom Riders who are facing court in December.


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