COMMUTERS have hit out at rail fare hikes which came into effect yesterday.
Tickets for Northern Rail services which run through Hartlepool have gone up by an average of 4.8 per cent.
Tickets on Grand Central services, which operate between Hartlepool and London, have increased by three per cent.
Northern Rail said it realises many people are struggling financially, but said the money from fare rises will go towards funding improvements.
But one Hartlepool commuter criticised the above inflation rise and said service have not improved.
Rail user Susan Connor has seen her weekly pass from Hartlepool to Newcastle go up from £34.20 last year to £35.60, an increase of 4.09 per cent.
She said: “Fares have gone up way above inflation every year for the last six years.
“The new increase is above most people’s pay rises, including mine.
“I am pretty angry about it because the service is not great.”
Mrs Connor, of the Rossmere area of town, claimed trains are often late and says the carriages are old.
A spokesman for Northern Rail said the increase is equal to an extra 10-20p for single journeys.
“Despite these changes, the cost of our average journey will remain just £2.24.
“Money raised through fares goes on to invest in improvements to stations, trains and services.
“We understand that these are difficult financial times for our customers, which is why we will continue to work with the Government and the wider rail industry to drive down the cost of running the railway to provide better long-term value for money for passengers and taxpayers.”
Grand Central’s increase means a single off-peak journey from Hartlepool to London has gone from £55 to £56.60.
Richard McClean, managing director, said: “Our walk-up fares have always been highly competitive and even with this three per cent increase remain some of the most keenly priced in the rail industry.
“The majority of our customers who buy our great value Advance Purchase tickets will not see a price increase in 2013.
“We have frozen Advance Purchase prices at 2012 levels, meaning our customers can continue to take advantage of excellent value train travel.”