STUNNED rail passengers will be hit with a 2.8 per cent price hike for regulated fares in January 2020.

This means the standard annual Bournemouth to London Waterloo season ticket will rise by £194 to an eye-watering £7,138.43.

And this latest maximum increase, linked to July's Retail Prices Index measure of inflation, comes after a 3.1 per cent increase in January this year.

Passengers at Bournemouth railway station reacted with anger.

Commuter Jez Sykes said: "It seems to be every year. The prices go up but there are less trains, less comfortable and less space.

"If you get a train out of London at 6pm you will struggle to get a seat."

Another passenger said: "I don’t commute that often but my husband does. He goes from Bournemouth to Waterloo around three or four times a week.

"For the standard of trains you have got, it is not great.

"They’re uncomfortable and usually overcrowded. The price increase definitely impacts on everything."

Meanwhile, South Western Railway Watch campaign coordinator Jeremy Varns said that passengers will "rightly be aghast" that another round of fare rises for next January have been confirmed.

"This is wrong on so many levels, yet the government appears to be in denial at the impact of such a regressive step," he said. "As a country, we cannot continue to tolerate having to pay such a high cost to use our railways. Research has consistently shown that UK passengers are charged higher fares than our European counterparts for both season tickets and fares purchased on the day of travel.

"The planned 2.8 per cent rise for 2020 will add to this burden while forcing others onto our already congested roads.

"Currently, journeys undertaken on SWR routes are eight per cent below where they were three years ago, yet the company's winning bid in 2017 was based on annual passenger growth of almost seven per cent."

Presently, a standard Bournemouth to London weekly ticket costs £173.60, but after January 2020 this will rise to £178.46.

The same ticket covering one month's travel currently costs £666.70, but will rise to £685.36.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: "It's tempting to suggest fares should never rise. However, the truth is that if we stop investing in our railway, then we will never see it improved."

But Irina Iovita, chief executive officer of the Commuter Club – an organisation which offers annual season tickets as a digital subscription service – said: "The cost of commuting in the UK is one of the highest in the world.

"Commuters told us commuting is in their top three expenses and with real wages being stagnant at best, commuting is becoming less affordable every year.

"It’s time for the industry to deliver fair fares to its most loyal but frequently forgotten customers, the commuters.”

All regulated fares will increase, including all weekly, monthly and annual season tickets bought by commuters across the UK.

Ms Iovita said: "The rail industry must consider alternatives to increasing prices by three per cent every year.

"Transport for London has shown it is possible to freeze some fares, but sadly the freeze of pay as you go journeys will do little to help commuters who frequently hit the weekly cap as they are regulated fares.

"As we’ve seen in many industries, innovation and technology are the key to lowering costs and passing these benefits to the end consumer."