Amelia’s Magazine | All aboard the Craftivist Collective and Climate Rush campaign to end excessive train fares!

Train Illustration by Alison Day

I love trains.

I’m actually sat on one right now, nurse as I write. The sun is just beginning to set and the pylons are casting long shadows across the country side. I’m slicing through fields, more about past dense forests and picture postcard villages, through cities and industrial sites, and fields full of  sheep. It’s just me, my music, my laptop and a cup of tea. A good cup of tea on a train is all the more appreciated in my books, having been made, as it was, whilst moving at 50 miles per hour on a tilting platform.

I don’t usually work on the train. My favourite train journey past time is to simply gaze out of the window and allow my mind to wonder beyond the everyday things, to the things that usually reside at the edges. Three hours to myself. As the train tilts and twists and wobbles on its journey, I watch peoples gardens as they whoosh by.  Fleeting glances through the windows, the flicker of a TV screen, children playing, pairs of tights dangling from the washing line; the shape of the oweners legs and feet still impressed into the elastic, like dangling legs in the wind.

Fair Fares Illustration by Faye West

I have been a frequent train traveller since I moved to London from Up North to go to University years ago. It started with the dreaded Mega Bus, always packed, the toilet always broken, with tyrannical drivers preventing us from getting off the bus at the change over. The toilet was the thing that pushed me, and almost my bladder, over the edge. I’d endured too many a Mega Bus journey ending with a sprint across the coach station to the toilet, laden with heavy bags and fumbling for 20p’s. Shudder. As soon as abject student poverty subsided into easily forgettable student debt I spent my meager pennies on catching the train instead, a luxury I reveled in. I found it easy to find cheap tickets at first, booked during the week of travel or even on the day.

31% Increase in train fares. Illustration by Matilde De Sazio

But as my university days fade so does the memory of cheap fares. Between 1997 and 2008, the cost of traveling by train rose by 46%, while the cost of traveling by car rose by only 26%?. UK rail fares are on average 50% more expensive than European fares. And if that wasn’t bad enough already, In 2012 the Government (“the greenest yet”) is planning massive fare hikes of 31% over the next five years – the biggest fare hike in a generation.

Craftivist piece by Hannah Henderson

I now struggle to book a cheap ticket weeks, sometimes months, in advance, such is the nature of the ticket allocation systems. Train companies have been expanding Peak times making it much harder to find cheaper tickets and without the buffer of my Young Persons Rail Card (R.I.P, sob) I could face Peak time fares of hundreds of pounds. I can buy flights for much cheaper, hell, I can buy whole cars for not much more. Its ridiculous.

Air travel is one of the biggest contributors to global warming, so reducing or avoiding plane travel is one of the single biggest ways an individual can reduce their carbon footprint. But ridiculously high train fares, coupled with ridiculously low air fares mean that many people choose flying, even if they really don’t want to. Cheap plane travel effectively privatises the pollution but socialises the consequences.

Eurostar commissioned some independent research which found that taking the train to Paris instead of flying cuts CO2 emissions per passenger by a massive 90%. To be in with any chance of reducing the massive levels of CO2 emitted by flying, governments need to be investing more in train travel and less in road and plane travel.  In an age when action on climate change is woefully inadequate and slow, increasing train fares is bad for people, bad for business and bad for the environment.

Craftivist illustration by Natasha Thompson

This is why I was intrigued to hear about the joint efforts of The Craftivist Collective and Climate Rush to take a stand against excessive rail fares.  The Craftivist Collective last weekend  joined in a nationwide protest to demand a halt to rail fare increases.  ‘Stitch-ins’ were held at stations across the UK where fabric train carriages were embroidered with some of the eye watering facts about the rise in train fares. Groups spread picnic blankets on station concourses and preceded to eat cake and jam sandwiches whilst crafting away and chatting to members of the public about their campaign. The embroidered messages will be sewn into a petition-train and taken on a Fair Fare Railway Adventure by Climate Rush this Saturday 16th April.  It will involve bikes, more jam sandwiches and bright red petticoats. For more information, or if you would like to get involved, click here. Alternatively, you can add your name to the Unfair fares petition from the comfort of your armchar right here.

Craftivist illustration by Natasha Thompson

Categories ,A Railway Adventure, ,Alison Day, ,Climate Change, ,Climate Rush, ,Craftivist Collective, ,Craftivists, ,Faye West, ,global warming, ,government, ,Hannah Bullivant, ,Mega Bus, ,Natasha Thompson, ,Public Transport, ,Train, ,Train Fares

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Amelia’s Magazine | The Best Christmas Indie Tunes of 2016: Listen to them all HERE!

It’s nearly Christmas so it must be time for my annual round up of beautiful, interesting, weird and fantastical seasonal tunes, many located this year via Twitter. If you’re reading this in years to come, do get in touch and tell me about your tune so I can include it! That’s what San Diego band Pony Death Ride did a few months back.

Nothing Beats Old People at Christmas was actually released last year and features in the Pony Death Ride annual Christmas show. Look away if you are easily offended, it takes a kooky (and not entirely generous) look at those always tricky family dynamics. Boy can I relate.

Moving on, Low have come up with a gorgeous lilting song that celebrates friendship, Some Hearts (at Christmas Time). I appreciate my true friends more than ever at this time of year.

I love this song by LA based electro singer songwriter Andrew Belle. Back For Christmas is featured on A Very RELEVANT Christmas, Vol. 6, for cool young Christians.

Released in aid of Human Appeal, Christmas Number One (On My Own) by the Raglans continues in the grand tradition of charity singles. It’s a plea to consider the plight of others, with proceeds going to help people in war torn areas. A worthy cause if ever there was one.

An Old Fashioned Christmas Song by Les Bicyclettes de Belsize is a jaunty tune.

If you love your 80s vibes you’ll love You Bring the Snow by The Crookes, complete with fake retro video and subtitles. Dance along to it after one too many sherries.

Featuring an eerily similar knowingly retro video, Christmas Without Snow is by Neon Dreams from Canada. It sounds a bit rave, and more than a bit like Coldplay.

For more 80s electro vibes look no further than This Fucking Time Of Year by Charles Cave, this time with original 80s footage from a family Christmas in Pennsylvania. He says “I think it is every musician’s duty to have a stab at a Christmas song, if only once. The festive season is full of all the emotions that fuel the best songwriting at all other times of the year, so digging into those complicated family dynamics, the bleak weather, the reflecting of the year gone by can be hugely inspiring for an emotive pop song.”

All these 80s vibes resonate with me because I was a child of the 80s, and I also spent quite a few Christmases in the USA, so it all feels (un)comfortably familiar. At one time we lived on a road fondly nicknamed Christmas Tree Lane, where each house competed for extravagant Christmas decorations in the front gardens. We never drew the curtains and I remember that at dinner time I felt like I was living in a dolls house with crowds of people peering in. But I digress…

The Stars Are Made Of Mistletoe is a typical indie Christmas tune by Maylee Todd & Steve Singh, featuring cutesy female vocals and sleigh bells.

Best Coast have released this lovely Beach Boys-esque holiday tune, Christmas and Everyday, which features in the movie An American Girl Story – Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas.

An exciting new discovery for me this year is the second annual playlist compilation available exclusively from Amazon Music on Prime. Indie for the Holidays features some absolute corkers, some of which are listed below.

Los Campesinos! contribute When Christmas Comes (Boxing Day Version).

I love the sweetly harmonising voices of Joseph in Sister Winter.

Hear Holiday Road by Tennis here:

There are also a few good tunes available on Amazon from their Acoustic Christmas playlist:

Trampled by Turtles sing about Christmas In Prison.

Train contribute I Miss You, Christmas.

Jon McDevitt takes on the mysteries of Father Christmas in his new single, featuring a driving beat and jaunty fiddle. A bittersweet reflection on the real nature of Santa. Listen here as it can’t be streamed elsewhere.

Emma-Lee gives us a sparkling pop song with It Won’t Be Christmas, which owes more than a little debt to Mariah Carey.

Natalie Prass takes a lo-fi approach to the video for Everybody’s Having Fun (It’s Christmas Time) – an ode to the troubled world we find ourselves living in and the difficulty many are having in getting into the Christmas spirit this year.

I absolutely adore this echo-ey electro-pop version of the ancient carol O Holy Night by Nat Jay + Cookie Cartel. Listen to O Holy Night here.

Lastly, Hannah Epperson gives us an experimental Christmas tune in the form of White Flag, which she describes as her “post-apocalyptic Christmas single”, here paired with her simplified version of White Christmas.

With thanks to Andrea Warner for my Canadian finds. Read her original article here. I hope you enjoy listening to these alternative Christmas ditties! A very Merry Christmas all xxx

Categories ,Acoustic Christmas, ,Amazon Music, ,An American Girl Story – Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas, ,An Old Fashioned Christmas Song, ,Andrea Warner, ,Andrew Belle, ,Best Coast, ,Charles Cave, ,Christmas and Everyday, ,Christmas In Prison, ,Christmas Indie Songs, ,Christmas Music, ,Christmas Number One (On My Own), ,Christmas Tree Lane, ,Christmas tunes, ,Christmas Without Snow, ,Emma Lee, ,Everybody’s Having Fun (It’s Christmas Time), ,Father Christmas, ,Hannah Epperson, ,Holiday Road, ,Human Appeal, ,I Miss You Christmas, ,Indie for the Holidays, ,It Won’t Be Christmas, ,Jon McDevitt, ,Joseph, ,Les Bicyclettes de Belsize, ,Los Campesinos, ,low, ,Maylee Todd & Steve Singh, ,Nat Jay + Cookie Cartel, ,Natalie Prass, ,Neon Dreams, ,Nothing Beats Old People at Christmas, ,O Holy Night, ,Playlist, ,Pony Death Ride, ,Raglans, ,Sister Winter, ,Some Hearts (at Christmas Time), ,Tennis, ,The Crookes, ,The Stars Are Made Of Mistletoe, ,This Fucking Time Of Year, ,Train, ,Trampled by Turtles, ,When Christmas Comes, ,White Christmas, ,White Flag, ,You Bring the Snow

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