A TYPICAL Swindon commuter will now spend more than 10 per cent of their income on rail fares after new price hikes came into force on January 1.

Workers returning from the festive break yesterday found their season ticket prices have risen by 3.6 per cent since last year.

For someone commuting from Swindon to Bristol, for example, this means spending £319.90 each month on travel - around 11 per cent of an average monthly salary, according to the TUC.

And people in London are hit even harder, as monthly season tickets costs rise to £381 - 13 per cent of an average monthly salary.

Protests were held at railway stations around the country - including in Bristol, Bridgwater and Weston-super-Mare - but none was held in Swindon.

South West TUC regional secretary Nigel Costley said: “The rail fare rise is another kick in the teeth for workers who have not seen their pay rise as much and are still waiting for promised improvements to the service.

“Britain’s fragmented rail service needs to be brought back together in the interests of public service, not private profit.”

The new price rise also means that British commuters spend up to five times as much of their average monthly earnings than some passengers on the continent.

Comparable commutes in France cost just two per cent of their monthly salary, at £66 a month, and in Italy passengers spend three per cent of their salary on travel, at just £65 a month.

A study by the RMT claims that every penny of this year’s “inflation-busting fare increase” is going directly towards the ‘profit’ of the privatised train operating companies.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “Passengers are actually paying more for less and less - more fare increases and more profit for less train guards and staff and less reliable services.

“To hide their greed rail bosses are trying to hoodwink passengers with completely bogus claims that this year’s rail fare increases fund investment.

“But these figures show that in fact all the fare increases will fund profits.

“Our members will be protesting today to say it is time to cut our fares, not our staff, and for a publicly owned railway where every penny of passenger revenue goes to improving services.”

ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan added: “Workers have missed out on real pay rises for years.“It is unfair that this subsidised industry drives up transport poverty. These fare rises hurt the communities and industries that they should be supporting.“And this is without even counting the scandalous cost of parking at certain stations.”