RAIL passengers in York were returning to work today after the festive break to find themselves facing some of the country’s steepest fare rises.

The average fare rise nationally is 3.4 per cent, the highest in seven years.

But Northern Rail, which runs trains to Harrogate, Selby and Hull from York, has the highest rise of all rail companies, at 4.7 per cent.

The increase at TransPennine Express, which runs trains from York to Leeds, Manchester, Malton and Scarborough, is 4.6 per cent, and the hike for CrossCountry long distance trains to central and south-west England is 4.1 per cent.

York central MP and Labour shadow rail minister Rachael Maskell warned high train fares were costing jobs in the city and costing city residents the chance of jobs outside York.

“This is not going into reinvestment in the railways, it is going into shareholders’ pockets and executives’ pay packets,” she said. “We want to see real reinvestment in the railway.”

Ms Maskell was today due to be at Newcastle Central Station talking to commuters about the increased fares, while Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for York Outer, Fiona Derbyshire, was at Poppleton station and other Labour activists were at York station.

About 40 protests were planned across the country by different organisations.

Virgin Trains East Coast fares are going up by 3.4 per cent and Grand Central by 2.1 per cent.

Ms Maskell said since 2010, train fares had gone up by 32 per cent but the wages for the less well off by only 10.4 per cent.

“People cannot afford to use the railways,” she said. “It precludes people travelling into York for work, it precludes people from travelling to get work outside the city. We believe everyone should have access to the railways.”

She said high train fares was an issue for city employers, particularly those with lower paid jobs needing filling. Labour was looking at reforming the entire rail fare structure.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We are investing in the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian times to improve services for passengers - providing faster and better, more comfortable trains with extra seats.”

Ms Maskell added that TransPennine electrification had been promised but was not going ahead.