A transport policy group has warned that raising train fares above the rate of inflation could cost some MPs their seats at the next election.
A poll of commuters in the Home Counties suggested that 74% would consider switching their support away from parties that want to raise the cap on rail fare increases.
By raising the cap on rail fare increases, the Campaign for Better Transport believes that some commuters in Surrey, Sussex and Kent will be paying up to £1,700 more for their annual season tickets by the time of the next election.
The biggest increase could affect the cost of a Brighton to London season ticket, which by 2015 could be £4,268 – a £1,164 rise from today’s price.
A spokeswoman for the campaign said: “the poll shows that commuters aren’t going to take excessive fare hikes lying down. Passengers have been promised ‘fair fares’ by the Government, and now many could be paying hundreds if not thousands of pounds more for their season tickets in just a few years’ time.
The votes of commuters and other regular rail users could be decisive in many of the key battleground seats in London and the Home Counties that changed hands in the 2010 general election.
It is highly likely that next week’s Spending Review could see the Department for Transport change the rail industry’s current RPI+1% formula to a new RPI+3% formula, causing large fare increases.
In constituencies such as Brighton Kemptown, won by the Conservatives at the General Election, 13.8 million people use nearby Brighton station every year.
Other constituencies where commuters votes’ could cause seats to change hands include Basildon South, Croydon Central, Thurrock East and Watford.
"We need to encourage more people to take the train, not price those who already do back into their cars.”
Season ticket costs in five years?
• Hastings to London: £6,337 (increase of £1,729)
• Milton Keynes to London: £5,269 (increase of £1,437)
• Gillingham to London: £5,236 (increase of £1,428)
• Reading to London: £4,659 (increase of £1,271)
• Brighton to London: £4,268 (increase of £1,164)