Rail passengers have been urged to take action in the fight for fairer train fares.
The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT), angered at the 5.8% average new year fare rises that mainline season ticket holders are now paying, have asked passengers to sign petitions, write to the Government and take part in protests.
Supported by Monty Python star Michael Palin, the CBT campaign got under way at Charing Cross station in London as supporters donned David Cameron and Nick Clegg masks while one campaigner sported a mask of Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.
CBT chief executive Stephen Joseph said: “Commuters feel like they are being pick-pocketed by the Government, expected to pay more year on year for the same poor quality service. Even with the promised extra investment, many passengers will see no actual improvement to their daily commute.
“Politicians need to start living in the real world and understand that people simply cannot afford to pay a fifth of their income just to do a day’s work. The Government pledged to create fair fares and we all expect them to keep that promise.”
In a message of support, Palin said: “Rail fare rises are holding travellers to ransom and increasing the likelihood that people will have to take to our already-overcrowded roads. Regular price hikes are no way for the Government and train companies to reward their regular customers.
“Instead of milking them, they should be thanking them for their loyalty with a better, simpler, more competitive fare structure.”
Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: “RMT is fully behind the campaign to stop the rail fares rip-off that will drive people away from public transport.
“The jacking-up of rail fares by up to 13% as passengers return to work today is a kick in the teeth for travellers that will leave the train operating companies laughing all the way to the bank.
“Rather than being reinvested into services, the massive increase in rail fares will simply pump up the £2 billion already ripped off from the railways by privatisation and add extra cash to the ConDem coffers through the back door in an outrageous stealth tax on passengers, while crucial rail investment remains light years away.”