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Rail fare hikes come into effect

A rail campaigner demonstrates outside King's Cross station this morning. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The mid-winter will be bleaker for millions of rail travellers today as inflation-busting fare rises take effect.

Regulated fares, which include season tickets, are increasing by an average of 4.2%, with the overall average rise for all tickets being 3.9%.

The rise follows a miserable few weeks for many commuters who have had to contend with floods, signal failures and, on some routes, staff shortages.

Last week, over-running engineering work led to serious over-crowding on some trains.

Campaign groups have pointed out today's increase is the 10th successive above-inflation rise, with some rail season ticket holders seeing their fares rise by more than 50% in the last 10 years.

Also, the TUC has said that fares have risen far faster than wages since the recession in 2008.

Train companies can put some season tickets up by more than 4.2% as long as the overall average does not exceed 4.2%.

Some Kent commuters are also facing above-average rises, with season tickets to London from Ramsgate, Folkestone, Canterbury, Deal and Dover all going up by around 4.8%.

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.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) said it recognised nobody liked paying more for their journey.

But it added that railway funding could only come from taxpayers or from passengers "and the Government's policy remains that a bigger share must come from people who use the train".

Transport Minister Norman Baker said the Government had reduced fare rises planned for January 2013 and January 2014 from RPI plus 3% to RPI plus 1%.

He added: "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.

"In the longer term, we are determined to reduce the cost of running the railways so that we can end the era of above-inflation fare rises."

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