Rail fares are due to rise by 6.2% in England from January 2013, the Government has announced – sparking a series of protests at train stations across the country.
In Scotland the average rise will be 4%, less than the rest of Britain, but still a considerable burden on working people and families.
Train companies are permitted to increase fares by 3% above the July Retail Prices Index measure of inflation, which now stands at 3.2%.
The planned rises could result in some season tickets costing £1,000 more in 2015 than in 2011, with some commuters potentially paying 11.2% more for their tickets thanks to rules allowing train operators to charge an extra 5%.
Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, is among those protesting. She declared: “It’s been one massive rail fare hike after another and people have had enough. The local commuters I’ve spoken to say they are really struggling – one man told me he recently had to hand his notice in for his job in London because he can no longer afford to get there."
Ms Lucas continued: “When people are struggling to find jobs and meet increasing living costs, these huge rail fares make no economic sense. This government actually promised to end above inflation rail fares – in light of today’s announcement, we now need to hold them to account.”
Alex Phillips, a Green councillor for Goldsmid, where many commuters will be impacted, added: "The government seems happy to allow rail companies to charge exorbitant fares while doing little to reduce over-crowding or improve the South East’s trains or rail network."
“Government railway subsidy is massive - much higher than in British Rail days - yet we have some of Europe's highest fares coupled with travelling conditions that almost force passengers away, Phillips added.
“The problem is the siphoning of taxpayer subsidy into shareholder profits instead of investment in the rolling stock and network. Instead of ever higher subsidies and poorer services, the Green Party's answer is re-nationalisation," he concluded.