02/01/2014 03:05 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 08:17 GMT

Rail Fares Rise By Three Per Cent, Campaigners Call For Renationalisation

Furious campaigners say it is time to renationalise Britain's railways as commuters are handed yet another fare rise.

As many Britons returned to work after the festive break, they were brought back down to earth by an average 3.1% hike in their season tickets, pushing some beyond £5,000 a year.

Meanwhile, a new report claimed that ticket costs were rising so fast that by 2018 the government will be making a "profit from passengers".

Rail campaigners, passengers and rail unions will be at King's Cross mainline station in London on Thursday morning, handing out mock tickets to passengers, which highlight the costs of fares and privatisation and call for public ownership of the railways.

According to the Action for Rail (AfR) group, Britons are spending far more of their wages on rail travel than their European counterparts.

Taking into account fare increases, the analysis gives the example of UK workers on an average salary who are now spending nearly 14% of their monthly wages on a £299 monthly season ticket from St Albans in Hertfordshire to St Pancras station in London.

The AfR said that in Europe workers making similar journeys in Germany and France spend around 4% of their salary on train fares, in Spain 3% and in Italy just 1%.

The AfR said more than 50 Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green, Plaid Cymru and SNP MPs have signed a parliamentary motion calling for the renationalisation of the UK's railways.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Rail passengers and taxpayers are being poorly served by a privatised rail service that has failed to deliver any of the efficiency, investment and cost savings that privatisation cheerleaders promised.

According to a report commissioned by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT), by 2018, fares revenue will cover 103% of the operating costs of the railways, up from 80% in 2009.

It added that by 2018 the Government's share of funding the railways will have fallen to just 20%, down from 38% in 2009.

The report said that between 2008 and 2013 the cost of a weekly season ticket from Reading in Berkshire to London (including a Travelcard which allows for bus and Tube travel in London) had increased by 25% while average take-home pay has risen by just 9%.

CBT chief executive Stephen Joseph said: "Rail fares have been rising faster than wages for a decade now, putting ever more strain on household costs.

"What this report shows is that by the next Parliament income from fares will not only cover the entire running costs of the railways, the Government will actually begin to start profiting from passengers."

He went on: "The Government must re-examine its fares policy as a matter of urgency and commit to a fairer system in line with the consumer price index so that fares only rise in line with wages."