Long-distance commuters could pay more than £150 extra a year as “rip-off” rail fares are expected to increase by 3.5% next year.
The exact amount will be confirmed when the Office for National Statistics releases the July Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation on Wednesday.
But economists predict the fare increase, which will take affect in January, will be at 3.5%.
The regulated train fares include season tickets on most commuter routes, anytime tickets around major cities, and some off-peak return tickets on long-distance routes. This year, these fares went up by 3.6%.
Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, criticised the method employed by the Department for Transport (DfT) in January, arguing RPI had “no merit” and that “virtually everyone recognises” the Consumer Prices Index, which rail campaigners say should be used to decide on fare hikes as they are generally lower.
Advocacy group Campaign for Better Transport called on the government to “commit to a fares freeze”, highlighting disruption caused by new rail timetables.
“Given the mess surrounding the new timetable, the lack of improvements and the failure to deliver compensation, the government cannot go on telling passengers that fare increases are justified,” a spokesman said.
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, urged the government to “end this costly farce” and bring railways back into public ownership.
“Justice for passengers means dropping the annual rip-off rise and also simplifying the Byzantine fare structure which privatisation has imposed,” he said.
“Better still, end this costly farce. Put passengers before profits by bringing our railways back into public ownership.”
Labour’s shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s handling of the railways was “beyond a joke” and hit out at the “truly staggering fare rises”.
He also called on the government to freeze fares on routes severely affected by timetable changes.
The DfT said any fare rises were “unwelcome” but added that it was “not fair to ask people who do not use trains to pay more for those who do”.
“Taxpayers already subsidise the network by more than £4bn a year – meaning that 38% of our transport budget is spent on the 2% of journeys that the railway accounts for,” a spokesman added.
He also said fare rises were helping to pay for extra carriages, services and upgrades on the Great Western Main Line and the Transpennine route.
The Rail Delivery Group, representing train companies, said 98p of every £1 spent on train fares was invested back into the railways.
But Rail, Maritime and Transport union general secretary Mike Cash said fare hikes were a “kick in the teeth” before also calling for public ownership.
He said commuters were being “robbed blind by greedy train operators for travelling in rammed out and unreliable services while the shareholders are laughing all the way to the bank”.