RAIL travellers arriving at Bournemouth train station yesterday morning labelled fare rises “ridiculous”.

On the day many returned to work after the Christmas break, ticket prices went up by an average of 3.4 per cent - the biggest increase since 2013. The rise means the cost of a 12-month season ticket from Bournemouth to London has increased from £6,500 to £6,732.

Campaigners from the town’s Labour group handed out leaflets marked ‘the great Tory train robbery’ to commuters.

David Stokes, a former Parliamentary candidate for Bournemouth West, said: “We’re here to protest these awful rail fares. The extra profits from these rises go to big business.

“They should be reinvested in better rail services for commuters.”

Martyn Wilson takes the train from Wool to Bournemouth. He said: “It’s absolutely ridiculous.

“It’s £8.90 now. That’s crazy.”

Andy Lee commutes from Weymouth. He said: “It’s a joke.

“The trains are often late and they’re going to cut services. What are we paying for?”

More than 40 protests took place at stations around the country during the morning.

Professor John Denham, chair of the Southern Policy Centre, said rail passengers in southern England are subsiding travellers across the rest of Britain by paying more than 16p a mile more than the cost of running the service. “There may well be a good case for subsiding some services but, if there is, surely the cost should fall on taxpayers as a whole, not just on one group of passengers,” he said.

Defending the price rises, a Department for Transport spokesman said: “We keep fare prices under constant review and the price rises for this year are capped in line with inflation, with 97p out of every £1 paid going back into the railway.”