TRAIN fare increases which were introduced on the Cotswold Line this week have come under fire from rail campaigners.

The Vale Public Transport Group says the rises of around five per cent are unjustified at a time when services throughout the summer have been hit by a series of delays and cancellations.

The group says an off-peak return from Worcester to London will increase from £66.90 to £70.20.

Concern is growing that this will lead to more people deserting Cotswold Line services in favour of more reliable and frequent services from Warwick Parkway and Birmingham International.

"For those still reliant on services from their local stations, the equivalent off-peak return fare from Worcester to London via Birmingham with Virgin is around 20 per cent cheaper - and Virgin also have a greater range and variety of advance fares prior to the date of travel." said VPTG secretary Helen Whitwell.

"This latest fares increase has come at a time of a fast rising tide of customer complaints re train delays and cancellations on the Cotswold Line and trains terminating short of their destination particularly on the Worcester-Malvern route," she said.

"This will add to the misery of long suffering Cotswold Line commuters who have also been facing long delays in response to complaints and compensation claims."

A spokesman for Great Western Railway said: “We have recently reviewed our unregulated fare offers, reducing a significant number of fares and realigning some others to ensure greater consistency among routes. Advance single fares between the North Cotswolds and London Paddington are available from just £6.

“New Intercity express trains are due into service this autumn, promising over a fifth more seats per train, and more frequent services.”

He said the middle-tier walk-up fare has increased by £3.20 for a return to London. On the North Cotswold line, an off-peak ticket is needed to arrive at Paddington on the 9.45am or 10.57am arrivals. Prior to that, an anytime fare is needed, and after that the super off-peak £50, which remains unchanged.