RAIL passengers in Swindon will have a gloomy start to the New Year with travel prices from London to the town seeing the biggest hikes in the country.

Some passengers will have to fork out for increased rail fares of up to 15 per cent with new ticket prices introduced today.

Unregulated fares, which include many off-peak services, are rising sharply, with a supersaver fare from London to Swindon rising 15 per cent to £23.

But many main line passengers will actually find their fares going down by 0.4 per cent, as the annual rise for regulated fares, which include season tickets, is linked to the rate of RPI inflation.

Cat Hobbs, of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Regulated fares will fall by 4p for every £10 paid.

“This is too little, too late for passengers who are already paying hundreds of pounds more because of the Government’s policy of increasing fares.

“UK train fares are already 20 per cent higher than the European average so the Government needs to make serious cuts to make taking the train affordable.”

Customers have also hit out at the price hike, saying the current economic climate should be taken into consideration.

Michael Turner, 24, from Toothill, takes a train to London every other day for work.

He said: “Although I try to buy my tickets in advance, sometimes I have to get a supersaver but now I won’t be saving all that much at all.

“I think it is ridiculous that prices are going up again – it is not realistic in the current financial climate.

“People rely on using Trains – we are encouraged to use public transport and not cars and then we are hit with these stupid prices.

“Also it will put people off travelling around and boosting the economies elsewhere because there will come a time where people simply won’t be prepared to pay the extortionate rates.”

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) came in for widespread criticism this autumn for not itemising, as it normally does, each train company’s average unregulated fares rise.

Instead ATOC said average fares – heavily influenced by the 0.4 per cent regulated fare decline – were going up by only 1.1 per cent.

Some train companies have given details of their unregulated fare rises. Virgin Trains, for example, is increasing unregulated fares by an average of 2.8 per cent, while ScotRail's rise is three per cent, and turn-up-and-go fares on services run by the Southern train company will go up by four per cent.

A number of companies, including National Express East Anglia, First Capital Connect, TransPennine Express and Merseyrail, have frozen their unregulated fares.

But the Southeastern train company passengers will face some of the biggest increases from Saturday. The company said some unregulated fares were rising 7.3 per cent and others by 2.8 per cent.

In the capital Tube fares are to go up by an average of 3.9 per cent and average bus fares will soar by 12.7 per cent.