Video: Overcrowded and rarely on time - your view of today’s train fare rises

Campaigners have demanded an end to above-inflation rail fare rises amid widespread anger at continuing increases.

The call came as it was claimed some season ticket holders have seen their fares rise by more than 50 per cent in the last 10 years.

Train companies can put some season tickets up by more than 4.2% as long as the overall average does not exceed 4.2%. So, for example, a Leeds to Wakefield season ticket is rising 6.16%, while a Ludlow to Hereford season ticket is increasing 5.28%. Some travellers will escape the worst of the increases. Those commuting to London from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, for example, will only have to pay 3.18% more for their season tickets.

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The TUC said average train fares have risen nearly three times faster than average wages since the beginning of the recession in 2008.

The figures emerged as annual fare rises take effect on the railways today, with the average season ticket increase being 4.3 per cent and the overall rise for all tickets 3.9 per cent. The increase for the Leeds to Wakefield journey is even higher, with the rise from £908 to £964 representing a near 6.2 per cent jump in cost.

The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) said its research showed that in the last decade London commuters have seen average season ticket costs increase by £1,300 and fares grow 20 per cent faster than wages;

CBT chief executive Stephen Joseph said: “The impact of successive governments’ policies on rail fares is appalling. It’s truly shocking that we have deliberately made getting the train to work an extravagance that many struggle to afford. The time has come not just to stop the rises but to reduce fares.”

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CBT has launched a petition 
calling on the Government to name a date to end the above-inflation formula used for determining the annual rise and commit to reducing fares relative to inflation. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “I understand the frustration felt by many commuters going back to work today.

“As well as having to shell out record amounts of money for their tickets, passengers also face the prospect of travelling on trains with fewer staff and having less access to ticket offices. They are being asked to pay much more for less.”

Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, blamed the Government. He said: “We understand commuters don’t like to pay more to travel to work but it is the Government, not train companies, that decides how much season tickets should rise on average each year.

“Successive governments have required train companies to increase the average price of season tickets every January since 2004 by more than inflation.”

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But Transport Minister Norman Baker said the Government had intervened to reduce the scale of the rises. He said: “Family budgets are being squeezed, so that is why this coalition Government has taken proactive steps to cut the planned fare rises from three per cent to one per cent above inflation until 2014.”

He went on: “We are engaged in the biggest rail investment programme since the 19th century and it is only right that the passenger, as well as the taxpayer, contributes towards that.”

Labour said it would impose a “strict” cap on future rises, accusing the Prime Minister of misleading commuters with a promise to limit them. Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle said: “David Cameron misled commuters when he promised to cap fare rises at one per cent above inflation.

“Many commuters have faced a nasty New Year shock as they discover fares have gone up by as much as 9.2 per cent.

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“The Government should come clean with commuters that this is a direct result of their decision to cave in to pressure from the private train companies to let them hike ticket prices beyond the so-called cap.”

Among the disgruntled travellers today were Gavin Lambert and Kevin Gowland, waiting for their Leeds train at London’s King’s Cross station.

“Our train is rarely on time and always overcrowded,” said Mr Lambert, 45, a hairdresser. He went on: “The Government wants farepayers rather than taxpayers to pay for the railways. But I’m a taxpayer too, so I’m paying twice over.”

Mr Gowland, 46, a musician, said: “The fares are not fair. I travel by train quite a lot in Europe and the service abroad is much better. The service we get is so bad that people are just giving up and taking the car instead and that means the roads are getting clogged up.”