Campaigners have branded plans to scrap off-peak evening rush-hour fares on South Yorkshire trains as ‘unfair’.
The Campaign for Better Transport said it is wrong to penalise rail passengers with higher prices when services are crowded and many trains are in a ‘decrepit state’.
It said Northern Rail should instead be focusing on investing in services to attract more passengers.
Northern Rail is introducing the change from next month, as part of attempts to reduce the level of subsidy it receives from Government.
However, opponents have warned it could mean some fares could more than double for passengers who currently make use of the cheaper afternoon tickets.
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 on weekdays between 4pm and 6.30pm.
The changes will apply to all rail services within the Travel South Yorkshire area, not just those operated by Northern Rail.
Currently, peak fares only apply on the morning rush-hour.
James MacColl, CBT campaigns director, said: “Introducing evening peak-time fares on Northern Rail is counterproductive and unfair.
“Given the crowded and decrepit state of some of the trains, the focus from Government and Northern Rail should be on investment and attracting more passengers, not hitting existing train users with fare hikes.
“Passengers will be asking themselves if this price increase is a sign of things to come.
“The north needs fast, high-capacity and high-quality rail connections.
“Our Right Track North campaign is pushing for the investment to make this a reality, rather than price hikes that discourage rail travel.”
Northern Rail said an ‘extensive’ consultation had taken place and the majority of its customers who travel at peak times, such as those with season tickets, will be unaffected by the changes.