THE Government has come under fire after rail fares have increased by more than three percent- the biggest hike in six years.

Labour Shadow Rail Minister Rachael Maskell visited Atherton yesterday, Wednesday, where she expressed her disappointment about the decision.

The rise comes despite the problems with Northern Rail, where a year of delays and cancellations was worsened by a dispute with the RMT union over removing guards from trains.

Ms Maskell said: “Rail fares have risen two-and-half times as fast as wages since 2010. “No wonder people have stopped catching the train. Labour will give commuters a real choice.

"That’s what you can do when rail is brought under public ownership.

Former Labour MP for Bolton West Julie Hilling condemned the move too.

She added: “People in the area rely on public transport and are being let down.

"This fare rise takes more money out of the pockets of working people in our constituency.

"It is a nonsense for the Tories to oppose nationalisation while letting the French, German and Dutch governments run our railways from abroad.”

The government has defended the increase.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “For the sixth year running, the Government has capped regulated fares in line with inflation.

"While any change in prices is unwelcome, it is not fair to ask people who do not use trains to pay more for those who do.

“We are taking action to reduce the cost to fare payers, with the new 26 to 30 railcard going on sale and a brand new railcard extending child fares to 16 and 17-year-olds.”