RAIL PASSENGERS faced the biggest annual increase in fares for five years as they returned to work after the festive break.
Average ticket prices increased by 3.4 per cent across the UK, with many season tickets rising by 3.6 per cent.
A 12 month season ticket from Wakefield to Leeds has increased by £32 to £1,044, with several season rail cards across the country increasing by more than £100.
The rising costs prompted protests at some 40 stations including Leeds on Tuesday.
Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, MP Andy McDonald was due to speak about the hikes in Leeds - but had to cancel his visit due to a train breakdown.
Trade union TUC said its research showed that UK commuters spend up to five times as much of their salary on rail fares compared to passengers across Europe.
General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Another year, another price increase. Many commuters will look with envy to their continental cousins, who enjoy reasonably-priced journeys to work.
“Employers can help out by offering zero-interest season ticket loans, or offering more flexible work hours and locations.
“But ultimately the government need to take our railways back into public hands. That will stop hundreds of millions being siphoned off by private rail firms, and allow us to put passengers first.”
The Government uses the previous July’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation to determine increases in regulated fares - 3.6 per cent in 2017.
These include around half of all tickets and include season tickets on most commuter routes. Train operating companies set the prices of other tickets but are bound by competition rules.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We are investing in the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian times to improve services for passengers - providing faster and better, more comfortable trains with extra seats.
“We keep fare prices under constant review and the price rises for this year are capped in line with inflation, with 97p out of every £1 paid going back into the railway.”