Socialist Worker

Warning—fat cat thieves are operating out of your train station

Issue No. 2567

Protesting at Kings Cross station in London on Tuesday

Protesting at King's Cross station in London on Tuesday (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Commuters in Britain spend six times as much on rail fares as passengers in the rest of Europe.

And that’s about to get a whole lot worse after Tuesday’s announcement that nearly half of rail fares will rise by nearly 4 percent.

These fares are supposed to be regulated. This category includes the season tickets that many workers rely on.

Every train still needs a guard—as the rail tycoons know full well
Every train still needs a guard—as the rail tycoons know full well
  Read More

But far from helping ordinary commuters, this sort of “regulation” guarantees a shock to their bank balance.

That’s because every year the government hikes the price of the regulated fares each January in line with the RPI rate of inflation the July before. This latest rise comes on top of a 1.9 percent increase in January—and more than half a decade of spiralling prices.

Since the Tories got into office in 2010, rail fares have increased twice as much as pay.

According to the RMT rail union, train ticket prices rose by around 32 percent in the last eight years. But average weekly earnings have only grown by 16 percent during the same period.

So if you’re a nurse travelling from Chelmsford in Essex into London, for example, 20 percent of your salary will go on an annual season ticket.

But since 2010 nurses have seen a real terms pay cut of around 14 percent after years under the Tories’ 1 percent public sector pay cap. Private sector bosses are just as stingy.

No wonder fewer than half of rail passengers are satisfied with the service they get for the price.

That might come as a surprise to Paul Plummer, chief of the bosses’ Rail Delivery Group (RDG).

“Money from fares pay to improve the railways,” he claimed.

Meanwhile, the private train operating companies that he represents paid out £228 million to their shareholders in dividends. The same companies got a £3.2 billion public handout in the same year to aid the process.

Talk about a great train robbery.


Hunt splashes out

Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt took a £44,000 toilet break from slashing the NHS last week.

The millionaire minister had the luxury toilet and bathroom installed in his new office at his penthouse.

In the same week Hunt floated the idea of selling off more hospitals’ land. That’s on top of already piling £22 billion of cuts on top of the health service.


The rich are still as safe as mansions

The housing crisis in London is getting so bad even the rich have noticed.

In a shocking sign of the wealthy’s woes, an £8 million mansion has been sitting on the market for four years at a knockdown £4 million.

But Troublemaker has a feeling that its owners aren’t too short of funds.

The Clockhouse was bought by Aryste Ltd, registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Queen’s bank Coutts coughed up the loan.

Meanwhile workers in London spent over half their wages on rent, according to the GMB union.

In Westminster the average rent for a two bedroom property is 71 percent of the gross average earnings of the borough’s residents.

The second highest was Hackney, where it’s 67 percent of earnings.


Men, don’t ask for a pay rise—just get married

Finally, an explanation for the puzzling fact that working class men are poor has emerged.

Forget wage freezes, job losses and the rising cost of living. Bosses’ think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) says it’s because they won’t settle down and get married.

The IFS found that over a third of 42 year old men born into the poorest families have no wife or partner so missed out on their income. The figure for the richest men is one in seven.

Though the IFS did also have to admit that poorer men are more likely to be out of work or living on disability benefits than richer men.


TOFF OF THE WEEK: Jacob Rees-Mogg

Tory stalking horse with a passion for housing

  • Key policies include demolishing tower blocks for the poor and slashing stamp duty on house sales for the rich
  • He got a £7.6 million government grant to restore his in-laws’ 365-room ancestral pile Wentworth Woodhouse

Ukip hopefuls making an ass of themselves

A Ukip leadership candidate has said gay people are more likely to have suffered child abuse.

David Kurten hopes to lead the hard right party after a leadership election later this year.

His comments in a Ukip questionnaire only gave party members another excuse to continue their infighting.

Peter Whittle, who hopes to be Ukip’s first gay leader, said Kurten’s comments were “wrong on every level”.

Party deputy chair Suzanne Evans declared that Kurten was “not fit for elected office”.

But then, who in Ukip is? Fellow candidate John Rees Evans once claimed a “gay donkey” tried to rape his horse.

He will have to fight it out among 11 vetted candidates.

But even party members don’t seem too interested.

A hustings in Newport, Wales, drew just 20 people earlier this month.


The Labour right’s smears that Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are far left “entryists” failed. So they’re trying their hand at entryism.

Tony Blair’s former director of political operations John McTernan has joined Labour left group Momentum.

The Troublemaker hopes his covert operation fails.


Hate crime spike after terror attacks

Reported hate crimes soared in the wake of terrorist attacks in Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge, according to new official figures.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said race or faith hate crimes made up the majority of the increase.

The biggest rise followed the Manchester attack in May. The weekly tally of hate crimes was 50 percent higher than for the same period in 2016.

A similar spike was not found after the terror attack at the Finsbury Park Mosque in June.


The things they say

‘Irresponsibility among the powerful’

Former aide to Theresa May Nick Timothy attacks firms for dodging tax

‘Ideas to win’

Unfortunate title of election loser Timothy’s new column in the Daily Telegraph newspaper

‘No one told me that I had to go, but she understood why’

Timothy, who wrote May’s losing manifesto in June’s general election, explains that May was very understanding in defeat

‘Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping white girls’

Labour’s shadow equalities minister Sarah Champion writes in the Sun newspaper

‘Thanks to Labour MPs such as Champion it’s acceptable to say Muslims are a specific problem’

Trevor Kavanagh applauds Champion in the Sun

‘Preparations for a transition are under way’

A royal aide hints at the queen stepping down when she’s 95 years old in four years


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