Protests against rip-off rail firms swept Britain today as unions revealed that fares have soared by more than 26 per cent since 2008 - nearly three times faster than wages.
Rail workers will protest outside 50 stations today along with fed-up travelling public.
They are lobbying commuters in their campaign against soaring fares, ticket office closures and redundancies and for renationalisation of the railways.
Private rail firms pocket billions of pounds in taxpayer subsidies yet continue to rise prices.
Unions said passengers were suffering "transport poverty."
Fare rises are expected to outpace wages and inflation again in 2013.
TUC general secretary-designate Frances O'Grady said: "Train fares have massively outstripped wages and inflation, even during the recession.
"Train-operating companies seem to have completely ignored the fact that real-term incomes and living standards have fallen and have ploughed ahead with eye-watering price rises.
"Today's protests should act as an urgent wake-up call to ministers. Our current privatised system, which is costing taxpayers a staggering £1.2 billion a year, may be a wonderful Christmas present for train companies but is a huge squeeze on the public purse and commuters."
Union leaders joined today's protests, at stations including Euston, Paddington and King's Cross in London, Leicester, Nottingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Exeter.
Train drivers' union Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: "This year's fare hike is all the more painful following George Osborne's announcement of deeper cuts and austerity last week and threatens to plunge many thousands of passengers yet further into transport poverty."
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "With the West Coast fiasco still playing out and with savage fare increases only a few weeks away, the campaign for renationalisation of Britain's railways is stepping up a gear."
TSSA leader Manuel Cortes added: "Last week's family spending survey showed that transport is now, for the first time, the biggest item in families' weekly budgets."
And Unite national rail officer Julia Long said: "Thanks to this government, the new year promises to bring more misery to the country's commuters, as the network's private rail operators think nothing of hiking their fares."
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