Train fares will rise by an average of 3.4% next month, the largest hike in five years.
The passenger watchdog and the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union hit out at the increase, which comes into effect from January 2.
Announcing the rise, industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said more than 97p in every pound from fares goes back into improving and running the railway.
The Government uses the previous July's Retail Prices Index measure of inflation to determine increases in regulated fares, which was 3.6%. These are around half of all tickets and include season tickets on most commuter routes and some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys.
Train operating companies set the prices of other tickets but are bound by competition rules.
Passengers can find the new fares and buy tickets online and at ticket offices from today.
The rise will be the sharpest since 2013, when fares increased by 3.9%.
Passenger watchdog Transport Focus compared the news to "a chill wind" blowing down platforms as many passengers' incomes are stagnating or falling.
Chief executive Anthony Smith said: "While substantial, welcome investment in new trains and improved track and signals is continuing, passengers are still seeing the basic promises made by the rail industry broken on too many days."
Forty-seven per cent of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of train tickets, according to Transport Focus.
One in nine trains failed to meet the rail industry's punctuality target in the past 12 months, arriving at terminating stations more than five minutes late for commuter services or 10 minutes late for long-distance journeys.
The RMT described the fares announcement as "another kick in the teeth" for passengers.
General secretary Mick Cash said: "For public sector workers and many others in our communities who have had their pay and benefits capped or frozen by this Government, these fare increases are another twist of the economic knife.
"The private train companies are laughing all the way to the bank."
The RDG said rail companies are working together to deliver more than £50 billion of improvements, including private sector investment of £11.6 billion on 5,700 new train carriages by 2021.
It has been the policy of successive governments to reduce the funding of the railways by taxpayers and increase the relative contribution of passengers.
Average train fare increases across Britain since 2013 (source: RDG)