Friday, 2 January 2009

OFF THE RAILS! Government policy undermines rail use

KENT PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 2nd January 2009 - 27 Audley Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1XF - www.kentgreenparty.org 0845 257 4236 – 01732 355185 – Mobile: 079444 71083

OFF THE RAILS!
GOVERNMENT POLICY UNDERMINES RAIL USE

Commuters face above inflation increases in rail fares this year. Government policy is pushing rail fares up whilst the cost of running cars goes down. Government air pollution policy is so bad that the European Environment Commissioner is taking the UK Government to the European Court of Justice to make it comply with European air pollution legislation. Dr Hazel Dawe comments:

“As a railway season ticket holder, I am appalled by the recent above-inflation increases in rail fares. These will contribute to traffic congestion and noise and air pollution on our roads in Kent. Government policy is failing to support the railways. The cost of rail fares rose 17% above the rate of inflation 1997-2007. However, motoring costs declined by 8% in real terms 1997-2007(1). Now that petrol prices have dropped, motoring costs will drop even further.

“Since the Government has ignored agreed European air pollution legislation, between 12,000 and 24,000 people die of air pollution in the UK each year. This has prompted the EU environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas, to take the UK to the European Court of Justice.

“The Government must cut its subsidy to private car use of about £13-14 billion a year and transfer these resources to the railways to keep fares down and add to new investment. The Government should also cut its subsidy to civil aviation – which is at least £9 billion a year – to boost investment in railways. Kent’s rails lines should all be electrified; the Medway Valley line and the Marshlink line (Ashford – Rye) need improving; some closed lines and stations should be re-opened eg the Western and Eastern Docks stations in Dover; the Whitstable-Folkestone line.”

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FURTHER INFORMATION: Dr Hazel Dawe 01732 355185 or 079444 71083. Contact address as above. Dr Dawe is Chair of Kent Green Party, teaches European Law in a university and is a Green Party Prospective Candidate for the European Elections to be held in June 2009.

Notes:
1. Office of National Statistics and Private Eye.

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