Rail passenger groups have slammed the decision to increase ticket prices, saying the announcement on the eve of the longest train strike in British history ‘simply adds insult to injury’.
Long-distance commuters will see the annual cost of getting to work increase by an average of 2.7 per cent – costing more than £100 – when it comes into force on January 2.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said ‘less than half’ of passengers feel they get value for money as it is.
Network Rail data shows that only 65 per cent of trains arrived at their scheduled station stops within one minute of the timetable in the past 12 months.
‘After a year of patchy performance passengers just want a consistent day-to-day service they can rely on and a better chance of getting a seat,’ Mr Smith said.
The announcement comes as hundreds of thousands of commuters on South Western Railway services are bracing themselves for industrial action set to last almost all of December.
SWR Fight Back, a campaign group of commuters affected by the strike, told The Telegraph the price increases are ‘outrageous’.
‘It shows the level of unaccountability within the industry and illustrates the disdain passengers are held,’ a spokesman said.
‘For the announcement to come as we are bracing ourselves for a month of rail misery simply adds insult to injury.’
Examples of season ticket increases could see those travelling from Brighton to London seeing theirs hiked by as much as £125 up to £4,581.
Other potential rises could see passengers commuting between Gloucester and Birmingham forking out an extra £119, paying £4,357, and those travelling between Edinburgh and Glasgow paying £114 more.
Trade unions also reacted with fury at the hike.
Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, the train drivers’ union, said privatised train companies are ‘telling passengers to pay more for a poorer service’.
The general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, Mick Cash, said passengers are being ‘fleeced thousands of pounds every year for the privilege of travelling in crowded, unreliable services’.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of industry body the Rail Delivery Group – which published details of the latest increase, said: ‘We understand that no-one wants to pay more to travel, which is why train companies have for the third year in a row held the average fare increases below inflation while still investing to improve journeys.
‘Passengers will benefit from 1,000 extra, improved train carriages and over 1,000 extra weekly services in 2020.
‘The industry will continue to push for changes to fares regulations to enable a better range of affordable, mix and match fares and reduced overcrowding on some of the busiest routes.’
The increase in around 45 per cent of fares, including season tickets, is regulated by the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments.
This is predominantly capped at July’s RPI inflation figure, which was 2.8 per cent.