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  1. National

Unions hit out at 'scandalous' rail fares rise

Transport trade unions have criticised today's announcement of an average 2.2% increase in rail fares from January 2.

The Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) described the rise as an "annual persecution of passengers," while The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) called the increase "scandalous".

We have seen fares jump by as much as 245% on key routes since privatisation 20 years ago.

It is now cheaper for a family of four to fly to Iceland to see Father Christmas - £224 - than it is for one person to buy an any-time walk on return rail fare from London to Manchester - £321.

– Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union

After two decades of privatisation the British people pay some of the highest fares in Europe to travel on clapped-out, understaffed and overcrowded services while the private train companies are laughing all the way to the bank.

– Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT transport union

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  1. National

Rail fares hike 'to improve services'

Following the announcement of an average 2.2% rise in rail fare from January 2, industry body the Rail Delivery Group said that money from train fares is fed back into rail services.

Over the next five years, Network Rail is spending on average £27 million a day on a better railway, alongside commitments made by train companies to improve services. That will mean more seats, better stations and improved journeys.

For every £1 spent on fares, 97p goes on track, train, staff and other costs while 3p goes in profits earned by train companies for running services on Europe's fastest growing railway.

The industry is continuing to work together to get more for every pound we invest to enable government to make fares decisions which work best for passengers.

– Rail Delivery Group director general Michael Roberts
  1. National

More rail passengers pushed to £5,000-a-year fares

More rail passengers will pay more than £5,000 a year for their season tickets from January 2.

Rail fares will rise by an average 2.2% in January Credit: PA

Announcing an average 2.2% rise on rail fares in 2015, industry body the Rail Delivery Group said the rise is the lowest average rise for five years.

However, many season ticket holders will find their average rise will be greater than their annual pay rise.

Regulated rail fares set to rise in the New Year

Commuters will be paying more for their rail tickets from 2nd January 2015 Credit: ITV Meridian

More rail travellers will be pushed in to the £5,000-a-year season ticket price bracket following today's announcement of train fair rises that will take effect from January 2nd.

The rise for regulated fares, which includes season tickets, will be up to 2.5%, which means those commuting from Canterbury East to London, for example, will see their season tickets rising from the January 2014 price of £4,960 to a point beyond £5,000. Folkestone Central to London season tickets which were £4,984 in January 2014 will also pass the £5,000 mark.

Other travellers will have to join the ranks of those already paying £4,000 a year for their annual commute. The season ticket from West Malling in Kent to London, for example, rises from the January 2014 figure of £3,996 to a point beyond £4,000 .

Those commuting to London from Woking in Surrey will see their January 2014 season ticket price of £2,980 rising past the £3,000 mark. Although the January 2015 rise for regulated fares has been limited to no more than 2.5%, unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets, can go up by as much as the train companies like.

However, announcing the new fares today, the rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group said the average rise for all fares to take effect from January 2 would be 2.2%, which is the lowest average rise for five years.

However, many season ticket holders will find their average rise will be greater than their annual pay rise.

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More than 1,000 food parcels for struggling families

The parcels will be packed by Army, local and Festival Republic volunteers Credit: Salvation Army

Volunteers from the Salvation Army in Reading are packing up more than 1,000 food parcels for struggling families in Berkshire.

The number of food parcels is four times higher than the amount needed five years ago.

The parcels will be packed and handed out by the Salvation army, local volunteers and volunteers from Festival Republic - the organisers behind the Reading Festival.

Parents protest for new school in Benenden

Benenden school pupils protest over new building Credit: Benenden CEP

More than 50 parents and children waving banners and placards have protested on the green in Benenden about the need for a new village school.

Benenden Primary has planning permission for an entirely new school to replace its crumbling buildings – but no funding.

The school is currently split across two sites - one dating back to the 17th century - and children have to cross the busy main road through the village to walk between them. It currently has no school hall or dining hall, and no kitchen.

The Department for Education is in the process of considering which schools will be awarded funding for new buildings.

The People's Millions - and the winner is...

For the ninth year running, ITV has teamed up with the Big Lottery Fund - to give away up to £50,000 to a project that could enhance a community.

Each night - over three nights - two groups will go 'head to head' - to say why their project deserves the money from The People's Millions.

There will be a bonus award for the project that receives the highest number of runner-up votes.

On Monday evening, the head-to-head ij the west of the region was between the project to restore a part of Saltdean Lido - and The Wild Reading Project. Andy Dickenson went along to surprise the winner.

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