South Yorkshire rail passengers have been stung by the largest fares increase in five years - with an annual pass between Sheffield and Doncaster now costing more than £1000 for the first time.
The rail industry announced yesterday that the average cost of a train ticket will rise by 3.4 per cent from January 2 next year - the sharpest since 2013 when fares increased by 3.9 per cent.
The move has been described as "another kick in the teeth" for passengers by unions and campaign groups and will hit thousands of hard-pressed passengers in the pocket making the daily commute across the county.
An annual ticket between Sheffield and Doncaster will rise by £32 from £976 to £1008. Weekly tickets will see an 80p rise and monthly ones a hike of £3.10.
George Arthur, secretary of the South Yorkshire Freedom Riders campaign group, described the move as "disastrous."
The 67-year-old former teacher, from Barnsley, said: "There will be some people having a re-think about whether they can now afford these prices and will be considering using their cars again, which will add to congestion and pollution.
"We would like to see the railways brought back into public ownership so all the profits go back into improving the network, rather than to shareholders."
He added the group is considering handing leaflets out in protest at the move at stations around South Yorkshire.
Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, described it as "another kick in the teeth" for passengers at a time when people's spending power is already facing a squeeze with the average wage growth failing to keep up with the pace of price increases.
He added: "The private train companies are laughing all the way to the bank."
Anthony Smith, chief executive of passenger watchdog Transport Focus, accused the rail industry of "broken promises."
The price hike was revealed by the Rail Delivery Group, of which all train operators and Network Rail are members.
The group stressed that last year's private investment in rail - £925m - was the highest in a decade.
They added more than 97 per cent of money from fares goes back into improving and running the railway.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, accepted it was a "significant increase" but added: “Government controls increases to almost half of fares, including season tickets, with the rest heavily influenced by the payments train companies make to government.
"Alongside investment from the public and private sectors, money from fares is underpinning the partnership railway’s long-term plan to change and improve.
"Working together, our plan will secure £85bn of additional economic benefits while enabling further investment and improved journeys for customers, better connections to boost local communities and a bright future for our employees."
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "The government carefully monitors how rail fares and average earnings change and keeps the way fare levels are calculated under review.
"We are investing in the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century to improve services for passengers - providing faster and better trains with more seats."
(Statistics provided by National Rail Enquiries)
2017 - Sheffield to Doncaster annual ticket - £976
2018 - Sheffield to Doncaster annual ticket - £1008
2017 - Sheffield to Doncaster monthly ticket - £93.70
2018 - Sheffield to Doncaster monthly ticket - £96.80
2017 - Sheffield to Doncaster weekly ticket - £24.40
2018 - Sheffield to Doncaster weekly ticket - £25.20