WINCHESTER rail passengers are facing hikes in fares which could see annual tickets to London cost almost £5,000.

Season tickets will rise by an average of 3.5 per cent in January following the announcement of July's inflation figures.

The new-year rises are based on the previous July’s rate of Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation, plus one per cent.

The Office for National Statistics announced last week that the RPI rate for July 2014 was 2.5 per cent, which means commuters in England will have to fork out an average of 3.5 per cent in January unless the Government decides, as it did for January 2014, to the rate to RPI plus 0 per cent.

The current standard annual season ticket between Winchester and Waterloo costs £4,696, and will increase by £164 to £4,860 under the new rules.

To include London zones one to six tickets prices will rise by £192.50, from £5,500 to £5,692.50.

Train companies also have a "flex" rule which allows them to increase some regulated fares by two per cent above the average as long the overall average remains at the RPI plus one per cent level. This means some fares could go up by 5.5 per cent in the New Year.

If that happens an annual ticket between the cities could cost £4,954.28, or £5802.50 with an underground pass.

Stephen Parker, 47, a chartered surveyor, of Fyfield Way, Littleton, travels to London daily from Winchester.

He said: “I’m not happy about it, and I’m sure there will not be any commuters that are. It’s going to make it even more expensive relative to what it already is.

“But I suppose it’s a great service that South West Trains offer, and as commuters there’s not much we can do about it. It’s a rise that’s effectively set by the Government.”

Charles Burns, acting secretary for Rail Future Wessex branch, said: “Our particular concern is about the cost of commuting throughout the area. It does mean that the basic season ticket will be £5,000 or more throughout our region and that is a considerable concern.

“This is about getting value for money,” he added. “Generally services are ok and there are plenty of them. South West Trains are providing a reasonable service. But there is a problem with inflation and income isn’t rising at the same rate. That makes it very difficult for people travelling [by train]. London is an important employment hub for the area but it has to be affordable.”