Rail commuters are facing more misery in the New Year after it was announced that prices would go up by 3.1 per cent.
The average increase will come into effect on January 2 just as people are heading back to work from the Christmas break.
The rise will include season tickets and comes despite more than half of passengers already being unhappy with the value for money of train travel.
Pressure groups have called for fares to be frozen following chaos caused by the implementation of new timetables in May that affected thousands of passengers.
It is also a bitter blow for passengers suffering from the worst punctuality for 12 years over summer.
In the last 12 months some 14 per cent of services failed to meet timetable targets.
Chief executive of watchdog Transport Focus Anthony Smith said: ‘The rail industry gets £10 billion a year from rail passengers, huge amounts of money from tax payers, it’s about time we got what we paid for.
‘Passengers want a reliable railway, they want a better value for money railway, and they shouldn’t have to wait any longer for that.
‘Some passengers will have memories of the timetable crisis in the summer, we’ve got ongoing very patchy performance, all this is causing problems so it’s a very mixed picture but people are still waiting too long for reliable railway.
‘A fare freeze would be a good New Year’s present. In the absence of that, better value for money railways so passengers can feel they’re getting value for money would be a good step in the right direction.
‘If trains get more reliable, if people can really rely on the railway again, I think value for money will stabilise or go up.
‘Advice to commuters is to buy a ticket now so that they’re this year’s prices. Secondly if things do go wrong, complain, and make sure the industry hears that you’re not happy. Thirdly, for leisure passengers, just use your railcard and travel off-peak.’
General secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union Mick Cash said: ‘Whatever way [Transport Minister] Chris Grayling tries to dress this up this latest fare hike is another kick in the teeth for passengers on Britain’s rip-off privatised railways.
‘His cynical attempt to blame this rise on front-line rail staff battling in all weathers to keep services running, and facing abuse and assault when the rail operators fail, is pure political cowardice from a transport secretary who is a national joke.
‘With the vast majority of our rail franchises in foreign state hands this increase means the British people will be paying the highest fares in Europe on our rammed-out and unreliable services to subsidise passengers in Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam. That is nothing short of a disgrace.
‘The only solution to Britain’s rail fare rip-off is a publicly owned railway run solely in the public interest, free from the greed of the private train companies.’
The price rises were announced this morning by the Rail Delivery Group.
Chief executive Paul Plummer said: ‘Nobody wants to pay more to travel, especially those who experienced significant disruption earlier this year.
‘Money from fares is underpinning the improvements to the railway that passengers want and which ultimately help boost the wider economy.
‘That means more seats, extra services and better connections right across the country.’
Network Rail has been ordered to improve its management of the railway infrastructure or face fines and legal action for lost revenue over failings on the network.