Stations across Sussex will play host to a series of protests amid fears that train fares could rise by 8% in January.

Commuter groups said rail fares, which are linked to inflation, are rising four times faster than wages.

Protestors will gather at key commuter stations including Brighton, Hastings and Eastbourne to try to force the Government to reverse its decision on allowing high fare rises.

Under the system - which allows train companies to set regulated fares 3% above July's retail price index - an annual season ticket from Brighton to London Victoria could rise by more than £280 to £3,814 on January 1.

Campaign for Better Transport (CBT), which has organised the Fair Fares Now campaign, said the price hikes were undermining economic growth and driving people into their cars.

They said fares could rise by 28% by 2015.

Alexandra Woodsworth, CBT's public transport campaigner, said: “Ministers have rushed to provide help for motorists to cope with rising fuel prices, but they are hitting train travellers with astronomical fare hikes.

“This is a deeply unfair blow to rail commuters and others who rely on public transport.”

Companies such as Southern and First Capital Connect are allowed to raise fares by an average of 3% above RPI.

Some regulated fares, which include season tickets, could be pushed even higher as long as others do not rise as much.

Protests will be held at Brighton Station on July 22, attended by Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, and on July 25 at 5pm, which will be attended by Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby.

Campaigners will also collect signatures for a petition against the rise.

Dr Lucas said: “These fare rises are hugely unfair and unnecessary.

“We could find billions of pounds to improve the UK's public transport and help reduce fares if we switched funding from endless road building schemes.”

A protest will also be held at Eastbourne Station on August 11. No date has been set for the Hastings protest.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The scale of the deficit means that the Government has had to take tough decisions on future rail fares.

“The long term solution is to get the cost of running the railways down.

That way we can get a better deal for passengers and taxpayers. If we succeed then we hope to see the end of above inflation average rises in regulated fares.”