CAMPAIGN groups have slammed the decision to hike up rail fares from next year.

As reported in later editions of yesterday's Evening Times, train travellers will face a 2.5% increase on their peak ticket prices from January 2015.

Pressure groups say the move by ScotRail will force commuters to abandon the railways and use cars instead, undermining the Government's plan to increase public transport use.

Transform Scotland, which campaigns for a sustainable and socially inclusive transport system, has criticised the soaring fares.

Paul Tetlaw, a Transform Scotland board member, said: "While it is true that fares are not going up as much they are in England, it is still the case that the cost of travelling by train has gone up more than the cost of motoring.

"If we carry on with fare increases at this level it will be counter-productive in terms of Government policy."

The increase comes after the Office for National Statistics announced yesterday that July's RPI inflation rate was 2.5% .

In Scotland, off-peak fares will be frozen in January, however rail users will still have to pay more for 60% of journeys come the new year.

Robert Samson, manager at Passenger Focus, said "While any increase is not good news for passengers, those in Scotland will be pleased that regulated fares continue to be capped at the level of inflation."

A ScotRail spokeswoman said: "Fares for four in 10 journeys will be frozen in Scotland."

"There will be no rise for off peak fares in January. And peak time increases will be limited to inflation.

"This means that, overall, our fare increases will be below inflation at a time when energy and fuel costs are rising much faster than RPI."