DAY trips into London could cost Petersfield train passengers almost £77 from March, and annual season tickets more than £5,333, on the back of the least reliable year for rail travel since records began.

It comes after the Department for Transport confirmed a 5.9 per cent hike to regulated rail fares from March 5, 2023.

This rise has been capped at a level well below July’s 12.3 per cent RPI inflation rate, “to help reduce the impact on passengers”, the transport secretary Mark Harper said.

But it remains the second highest increase on record – and amid ongoing industrial action and proposed service cuts, passenger watchdogs have questioned what passengers are getting for their money.

What a 5.9 per cent hike could mean for Petersfield passengers:

An Anytime Day Travelcard from Petersfield to Waterloo would increase from £72.50 to £76.78, a rise of £4.28.

A standard annual season ticket from Alton to Waterloo would rise from £5,036 to £5,333.12, up £297.12.

A standard annual season ticket with Travelcard from Alton to Waterloo would increase from £6,036 to £6,392.12, a rise of £356.12.

Before Covid, rail fares were raised in January each year by the RPI inflation rate plus one per cent.

But in the face of spiralling inflation, “for one year only” the government has capped fares at 5.9 per cent. Current prices have also been frozen for January and February.

However, coming after industrial action paralysed the rail network over Christmas, rail passenger watchdog SWR Watch says the 5.9 per cent ticket hike from March 5, 2023, shows “the government’s war on the rail industry and its passengers continues into 2023”.

SWR Watch, which is campaigning for improved rail services across the South Western Railway (SWR) network, responded to news of the hikes by asking transport secretary Mark Harper “what exactly is this fare increase paying for?”

The watchdog continued: “More services? NO. Better punctuality and reliability? NO. Improved stations and accessibility? NO.”

Over the festive season, SWR again ran no services on the Portsmouth-Waterloo line on strike days; December 13, 14, 16, 17, 24, 26 and 27.

This means no rail services have run from Petersfield station on 13 separate days this year.

But Portsmouth line services have been drastically cut on non-strike days too, with SWR running just an hourly service stopping at Petersfield until January 8.

Petersfield passengers travelling to London must currently change at Woking, with the earliest outgoing train departing at 8.27am and the latest inbound train leaving at 7.30pm – meaning nights out in the capital are not an option by rail for most Petersfield passengers.

The rail operator has blamed this reduced timetable on an overtime ban by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), which plans further strikes on January 3, 4, 6 and 7.

Regulated fares must rise by the cap on average, meaning individual fares may vary come March.