Fury over fresh rail fare increases
Rail passengers have reacted with fury as they endured familiar problems of delays and cancellations while facing higher fares - which rail minister Norman Baker described as "not nearly as expensive as has been presented".
With commuters forking out an average 4.2% more for their season tickets, Mr Baker added that the annual fare-rise policy has been "inherited from the last Government".
The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) said the rises were paying for "more trains and faster services" - despite delays on a number of key routes including the Heathrow Express and the Gatwick Express.
Atoc stressed that it was the Government, not the train companies, that made the fares policy.
But shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said the Government had "caved in" to train companies by allowing some commuter fares to rise by more than 4.2% as long as the overall 4.2% average was maintained.
Taking all tickets into account, fares have risen by an average of 3.9%, with Tube and London bus fares rising by an average of 4.2%. Campaigners have pointed out it is the 10th successive above-inflation annual rise, with some fares having increased by more than 50% in the last 10 years.
Mr Baker said he sympathised with travellers facing increases and admitted the fare structure was "not ideal". He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Once you take the basket of fares, include early advance and off-peaks, we are not nearly as expensive as has been presented."
Ms Eagle, who joined a protest led by rail union TSSA at King's Cross station, said: "People are paying more for a worse service."
Atoc corporate affairs director Edward Welsh told Sky News the fare rise led to investment which produced "more trains, better stations and faster services".
But problems on the lines included cancellations to some Greater Anglia services, over-running engineering work affecting services at Cannon Street station in London and delays in Hampshire, Devon and Cumbria.