TODAY'S inflation busting rise in rail fares "will not help commuters and city centres recover from the pandemic", says a representative from Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Ticket prices will increase by an average of 2.6 per cent from today, which is last July’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation plus one per cent.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This inflation busting rise will not help commuters and city centres recover from the pandemic. The Government needs a credible plan for the future of rail that gives passengers better value.

“Any fresh form of privatisation would cost passengers by sucking out money for shareholders. We need the railways back in public hands. It's common sense that you get better quality and value if every penny from every fare goes back into the service.”

But Transport Minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton said there has to be a balance between what taxpayers and passengers pay towards the railways.

Lady Vere said the 2.6 per cent rise in fares is the lowest increase for four years and has been delayed for two months.

“But it is the case that taxpayers have been spectacularly generous to the railways in terms of their support over the Covid period.

“We must ensure that there is a good balance between the taxpayer and passengers,” she added.