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Need To Know: Commuters blast rail fare hike

■ Commuters blast rail fare hike

COMMUTERS have pledged to ditch train travel altogether after it was announced rail fares are set to rise again by up to 2.8 per cent.

Ticket costs are to rise from January in line with July’s rate of Retail Prices Index inflation, which is used to set the cap on annual season ticket price hikes.

But rail campaign groups warned that commuters will ‘refuse to pay’ if season ticket prices continue to be hiked while there have been increased calls for a nationalisation of the railways.

A 2.8 per cent rise in season ticket prices would lead to an increase of more than £100 in the annual cost of getting to work for many commuters.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: ‘Every year commuters are being asked to pay more money for bad train services.

‘The government has sat back and allowed private train companies to cash in while people’s pay has been held back. Continuous fare rises undermine urgent action to tackle the climate emergency by pricing people off the railways.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he was ‘not delighted’ about the increase.

■ One homeless person ‘dying every 19 hours in UK’

CALLS have been made to tackle the rough sleeping crisis after campaigners claimed one homeless person is dying on average every 19 hours.

The Museum of Homelessness (MoH) suggested the figure after it said its research found at least 235 people ‘affected by homelessness’ had died in the last six months.

The social justice group used Freedom of Information requests, local authorities’ figures, coroners’ records and testimonies from families as well as details from media coverage to gather the data but believe the true figure could be ‘significantly higher’.

The people who died were aged between 16 and 104, and may have been in emergency or temporary accommodation or sleeping rough, the organisation said.

MoH co-founder Jessica Turtle said: ‘People aren’t able to access the support they need. We need to see more from the government.’

A government spokesman said it was ‘unacceptable’ that any life should be cut short due to homelessness saying it was committed to ensuring everyone has a safe place to live.

■ Brits arrested after record drugs bust in Australia and New Zealand

FOUR British men have been arrested in Australia and New Zealand following a £50.7m drugs bust.

Queensland police seized 766kg of MDMA powder which it said was the highest purity ever recorded in the region and could have made up to 12 million pills.

Two UK citizens in the state, a 51-year-old man and a 40-year-old man, were arrested as well as a 26-year-old Australian man.

A 51-year-old Australian woman was arrested in New South Wales in connection with the seizure of approximately 108,000 Australian dollars (£61,000) in cash.

Two other British men, aged 60 and 49, were arrested by police in New Zealand after 200kg of methamphetamine was seized last week as part of the same operation.

Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker, of Queensland State Crime Command’s Drug and Serious Crime Group, said the MDMA seizure represented around 7 per cent of the national yearly total in Australia.

■ ASAP Rocky found guilty over Swedish street brawl

A SWEDISH court has found American rapper ASAP Rocky guilty of assault for his role in a street brawl in Stockholm.

The artist, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, denied assaulting Mustafa Jafari in the city on June 30, pleading self defence.

Prosecutors said they beat and kicked Mr Jafari, hitting him with a bottle but the judged ruled that there was not enough evidence to say that bottles had been used during the assault.

The three defendants were ‘convicted of assault and sentenced to conditional sentences’. That means they face no prison sentence in Sweden unless they commit a similar offence in the country again.

They were also ordered to pay damages to the victim.

■ Flights resume at Hong Kong Airport following protests

FLIGHTS have resumed at Hong Kong’s airport after two days of violence FROM pro-democracy protesters.

About three dozen protesters remained in the airport’s arrivals area a day after a mass demonstration and frenzied mob violence forced more than 100 flight cancellations.

Additional identification checks were in place, but check-in counters were open and flights appeared to be operating normally.

Protesters spread pamphlets and posters across the floor in a section of the terminal but were not impeding travellers.

Online, they also circulated letters and promotional materials apologising to travellers and the general public for inconveniences during the past five days of airport occupations.

‘We ask for your understanding and forgiveness as young people in Hong Kong continue to fight for freedom and democracy,’ it read.

The airport’s management said it had obtained ‘an interim injunction to restrain persons from unlawfully and wilfully obstructing or interfering’ with airport operations.