A Calderdale passenger lobby group has slammed Northern Rail for implementing the biggest hike in rail fares for five years while services remain overcrowded.
A 3.4 per cent increase in fares has been announced at the same time Northern introduced new penalty fares for anyone who travels on a train without first buying a ticket.
Halifax and District Rail Action Group (HADRAG) chairman Stephen Waring said: “The basic message on fares is that regular travellers will be angry at what we hear is going to be the biggest general fares rise for five years.
“People who travel at peak times pay the top rate for their tickets but often seem to get the worst service with sardine can conditions and delays often a knock on effect of overcrowding.
“It would not be outrageous to expect fares rises to be held off until the service is improved. We are certainly promised improvements, including brand new trains, but we keep being asked to be patient.
“Locally the fare increases planned in January seem to reflect the national average of around 3.4 per cent.
“However, it looks like some of the cheaper off-peak fares will go up by larger amounts.
“For example an off-peak day return from Halifax to Leeds, currently £6.20 looks to be going up to £6.70, an increase of 8 per cent.
“Similarly the off-peak return Halifax-Bradford goes up by almost 6 per cent. Brighouse-Leeds peak return goes up 2.6 per cent, but the off-peak fare goes up 4.4 per cent.
“Obviously we hope this isn’t a trend designed to make cheaper off-peak fares more expensive!”
Passenger watchdog Transport Focus said the increase could push the cost of an annual season ticket in Yorkshire to £2,000.
The increase was announced as Northern confirmed it would issue £20, or double the price, penalty fares for anyone who travelled on a train without first buying a ticket.
Meanwhile Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has defended the government’s decision to scrap electrification for the north, adding that faster trains with better facilities will be provided.