ANGRY rail users are set for a price hike in the New Year with fares rising by an average of 4.1%.

The cost of an annual season ticket from Bracknell to London Waterloo on South West Trains is set to rise from �3,160 to �3,292 from Wednesday, January 2. It comes after a 6.2% rail increase last year. A season ticket from Wokingham to Waterloo will cost �3,392, up from �3,256. The 4.1% increase compares with the national inflation rate of 2.7% .

Richard Leidgate, 46, who lives in Wokingham town centre, told the News: "It's outrageous. It's way above the inflation rate.

"It would be okay if the service went up by 4% but they have been putting the fares up for years with no obvious sign of improvement."

Many passengers go from Bracknell and Wokingham to Reading, to catch the congested First Great Western service to Paddington. Season fares from Bracknell, Wokingham or Ascot stations to Paddington are going up from �3,800 to �3,960.

Dennis Woodhams, 66, from Finchampstead, said: "Recently I have had to use the train from Reading to Paddington quite a lot and you can never get a seat. I travelled back at 9.45pm last week and was standing. It is like a cattle market."

On the News's Facebook page, Richard Thompson said: "I was in Germany recently and to get a ticket from Munich airport into the city for five of us cost �20.

"You can't even buy five tickets from Bracknell to Reading for that price let alone Bracknell to London."

Rail bosses have defended the increase, saying it helps fund improvements on the network. Forthcoming projects include the �6m rebuilding of Woking-ham train station.

Tim Shoveller, managing director of the South West Trains/Network Rail Alliance, said: "Railway funding can only come from the taxpayer or from the passenger.

"The Government's policy remains that a bigger share must come from people who use the train.

"We know that nobody likes paying more for their travel, especially to get to work.

"That's why we are working hard with the rest of the rail industry to make the system more cost-efficient and help take the pressure off future fare rises.

"At the same time, we are investing in our trains and stations to deliver a better railway for our customers."