Transport campaigners have held a demonstration outside Lynn’s railway station to demand lower fares and the re-nationalisation of the rail network.
The protest, on Tuesday morning, was held as passengers learned they are likely to be hit with a one per cent rise in the cost of regulated fares, such as season tickets, in January.
The government says the increase is the lowest for six years while wages are rising faster than fares for the first time since 2002.
But the hike is set to add around £55 to the cost of the cheapest annual season ticket for travel between Lynn and London.
And former Labour election candidate Jo Rust says that will have a knock-on effect on people’s spending power.
She said: “Whether they’ve gone up in line with inflation or not, it’s still money that’s coming directly out of people’s pockets and being taken out of the local economy.”
The rise is calculated from the July retail price index figure, which is one per cent, although the costs of unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets, is left to individual train operators to determine.
Annual season tickets for travel between Lynn and London Kings Cross currently cost £6,736 including Underground use and £5,472 without. That means commuters are set to have to find either £55 or £68 more when the rise is implemented in January. Travellers from Downham are likely to be asked to pay up to £65 extra to the current £6,464 cost of an annual season ticket, including Underground use. Meanwhile, the cost of annual season tickets to Cambridge is likely to go up by around £22 from the current £2,188 from Lynn and £20 on the current £2,048 from Downham.
But the government, who says the increases will help to fund a £38 billion investment programme, has pledged there will be no above-inflation rises in the cost of season tickets for the next five years.
They claim that will save commuters more than £400 each over that period.
Rail minister Claire Perry said: “We are investing record amounts in transforming the UK’s rail network in order to provide better journeys for everyone, and fares have an important role to play in delivering this investment.
“But I know that many families are concerned about the cost of rail travel, which is why we are putting an end to above inflation fare increases. This will make a real difference to household budgets.”
She added that the faster rise in wages over fares represented “real progress” for passengers.
However, research published by the Action for Rail campaign, which advocates re-nationalisation, claimed that fares could be cut by 10 per cent if the network was brought back into public hands.
They also claim that average fares have risen by 25 per cent over the last five years, almost three times faster than wages, which were up nine per cent over the same period.
Activists from the Lynn and District Trades Council were among campaigners staging demonstrations at almost 40 stations across the country.
And Mrs Rust said: “What we’re hearing is more and more people are in favour of bringing the railways back into public ownership.”