'Freedom Riders' lobby transport chiefs

Campaigning pensioners known as the Freedom Riders have been lobbying public transport chiefs outside Barnsley Town Hall over cuts to concessionary train travel.

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Protesting pensioners suffer set back

The so-called Freedom Riders have suffered a set back after their call for a return to free rail travel was turned down by transport bosses.

The pensioners have been staging a series of protests over the plans, by boarding trains, but refusing refusing to pay the fares. Today (Monday May 19, 2014) the region's Transport Committee agreed that people with disabilities should, travel free and that the elderly will pay half-rail fares.

But after a stormy meeting in Barnsley, the protestors say they won't give up the fight. David Hirst reports

Protesting pensioners gather at Barnsley Town Hall

Pensioners arrive at Barnsley Town hall to protest over cuts to travel Credit: ITV Yorkshire

Campaigning pensioners - the so-called Freedom Riders- have begun to gather outside Barnsley Town Hall to protest about cuts their concessionary travel.

They are planning to lobby members of nine councils from South Yorkshire, Bassetlaw and north Derbyshire who are meeting this afternoon (Monday may 19, 2014) to vote on proposals to make the elderly in South Yorkshire pay half towards the cost of their rail fare.

The protestors have already won concessions- transport bosses have agreed the disabled can travel free. But the pensioners say their protests will only stop when they get completely free travel once again

"Freedom Riders" at Barnsley Town Hall Credit: ITV Yorkshire

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"Freedom Riders" take to the streets of Barnsley

'The Freedom Riders" protesting at Barnsley railway station Credit: ITV Yorkshire

Campaigners for free travel passes for the disabled and elderly in South Yorkshire, dubbed the Freedom Riders, are holding a march and rally today in Barnsley.

Earlier this month they managed to persuade transport chiefs to do a u-turn on their plans to scrap free train and bus travel for pensioners and the disabled.

But although the disabled can still travel for free the elderly will have to pay half price and only travel at set times.

The Freedom Riders are now stepping up their campaign to get the Passenger Transport Executive to think again about scrapping free travel passes for pensioners.

They are assembling at 11am at the Barnsley College end of Eastgate and a march around Barnsley will be followed by a rally in Peel Square.

The rally will be addressed by Tosh Macdonald, national Vice-president of ASLEF, the train drivers' union, which has been supporting the Freedom Rides, and other trade union and campaign speakers.

Pensioner power claims major victory

A group of pensioners in Barnsley are claiming a major victory after so-called Freedom Riders forced a U-turn by transport bosses over concessionary fares.

Last week elderly and disabled campaigners boarded a train but refused to pay for their tickets in protest at plans to withdraw their free travel passes. Now the powers that be have partly backed down. But pensioners will still have to stump up something. David Hirst reports.

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Freedom Riders vow to fight on after partial victory

A group of pensioners are celebrating today after winning a partial victory in their campaign to reclaim free travel on Yorkshire's rail network.

The Freedom Riders protested against charges being introduced for pensioners and disabled passengers, but today welcomed the news that those charges would be reduced.

Disabled passengers and their carers will now travel for free while pensioners will pay half fares.

Dave Gibson says they will continue campaigning to recover free travel:

The South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, who introduced the changes say they were forced by budget pressures:

In a statement they said: "The budget pressures which led to the changes remain. The enhancements are being introduced in response to the more significant problems, raised through customer feedback, since the changes to reduce concessionary travel were made earlier this year."

Protesting pensioners stopped from boarding train

Protesting pensioners at Barnsley train station

More than a hundred protesting pensioners have been prevented from boarding a train from Barnsley to Sheffield.

In recent weeks they had been allowed to travel free on the Northern Rail service as they protested against cuts in concessionary fares. Today (Monday April 28, 2014) though police stood in their way. They had been warned that travelling without a ticket is against the law.

But a handful did manage to get on board another train by changing platforms. The pensioners say their campaign will continue.

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