Rail passengers will see fares increase from next month as new evening peak time prices are introduced - with a commuter group claiming some tickets could more than double in price.
From Monday, September 8, passengers in South Yorkshire and other areas served by Northern Rail will no longer be able to use off-peak tickets between 4pm and 6.30pm on weekday evenings on rail services.
The changes will apply to all rail services within the Travel South Yorkshire area, not just those operated by Northern Rail.
Passengers who currently use off-peak tickets during these times will either have to travel earlier or later or buy more expensive ‘anytime’ tickets.
Northern Rail say the move is part of efforts to reduce the amount of subsidy it needs from the Government.
But watchdog Passenger Focus has warned the change will mean prices could more than double for travellers on some routes.
The organisation has said Northern Rail should focus on ensuring every passenger pays for their ticket instead of bringing in the change.
David Sidebottom, Passenger Focus’s passenger team director, said: “We have urged Northern Rail to concentrate on collecting fares owed to them before putting up prices.
“Our 2012 research in the North of England found that passengers were already confused about fare structures and rules, this move will add to that confusion.
“Passengers were also frustrated that fares go uncollected either because there are no ticket facilities at the station, or because passengers cannot find a guard to sell them a ticket.
“Investment is needed to improve services for passengers across the North of England. However, disproportionate fare increases for some passengers before there is any visible benefit from that investment seems premature as the affordable ‘turn up and go’ railway is eroded.
“The debate on funding needs to focus on the trade-off between what passengers put in and what they get back. And it needs to involve them from the start.”
Richard Allan, commercial director for Northern Rail, said: “The majority of customers who travel at peak times, such as those with season tickets, will be unaffected by these changes but we want to make sure that those who are know about what is happening.
“We have consulted extensively with local stakeholders and with Passenger Focus on the detail of this change.”