A rail passenger watchdog has said the 5.9 per cent ticket hike from March 5, 2023, shows “the government’s war on the rail industry and its passengers continues into 2023”.

SWR Watch, which is campaigning for improved rail services across the South Western Railway (SWR) network, responded to news of the hikes by asking transport secretary Mark Harper “what exactly is this fare increase paying for?”

The watchdog continued: “More services? NO. Better punctuality and reliability? NO. Improved stations and accessibility? NO.”

Its comments come after industrial action paralysed the rail network over Christmas.

Over the festive season, SWR again ran no services on the Alton-Waterloo line on strike days; December 13, 14, 16, 17, 24, 26 and 27. It means no rail services have run from Alton and Farnham stations on 13 separate days last year.