COMMUTERS have hit out at new rail fares which increased above the rate of inflation yes- terday for the tenth year running.

Brighton to London tickets have rocketed by 53.82% in the last decade with a season ticket rising from £2,720 in 2003 to £4,184 today.

A weekly ticket for commuters working in the capital is now £104.60, up from £68 in 2003. Liliya Cowper, 40, from Worthing, commutes to Brighton each day for work.

She said: “From next week I’m going to look at getting the bus.

It’s so expensive and I think I could save nearly 50% by getting the bus to work.”

Paula Williams, 43, who commutes from Berwick each day, pays £161 a month.

She said: “It is a lot of money but I don’t have any other options.”

Fares have been rising above inflation for the past 10 years with increases varying depending on train companies and route.

The hikes have been repeated across Sussex, with commuters from Eastbourne paying 58.24% more than in 2003 while those in Crawley forking out 57.55% more.

For the former, a sea- son ticket costs £4,304 (up from £2,720) with a weekly fare £107.60 (up from £68).

For the latter, commuters now pay £3,296 (up from £2,092) with a weekly ticket cost- ing £82.40 (up from £52.30).

However, the largest hike was reserved for workers in Hastings, who as of yesterday pay £4,584 (up from £2,880) and £114.60 (up from £72) for a weekly ticket.

Petition launched Campaigners have launched a petition to end the inflation busting rises and are calling on the government to set a date for action.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The impact of successive Government’s policies on rail fares is appalling.

“It’s truly shocking that we have deliberately made getting the train to work an extravagance that many struggle to afford.

“The time has come not just to stop the rises but to reduce fares.”

Norman Baker, transport minister and Lewes MP, described the continuing rise as “not ideal” but defended the policy.

He said: “We are engaged in the biggest rail investment programme since the 19th Century and it is only right that the passenger, as well as the taxpayer, contributes towards that.

“In the longer term we are determined to reduce the cost of running the railways so that we can end the era of above-inflation fare rises.”

Simon Kirby, MP for Brighton Kemptown, said he would continue to make sure his constituents’ voices were heard but said there was no easy answer.

He added: “It’s about striking a balance between the taxpayers and rail users when paying for invest- ment in the railways.”

Mike Weatherley, MP for Hove, said: “We all know that the taxes that we pay generally are being stretched in plugging the huge hole left in our nation’s finances.

“The painful reality is that we have little choice but to ask those who use our railways to pay for them.”