RAIL fares are increasing twice as fast as wages, new analysis has revealed – leaving workers across Scotland at the mercy of “hideously expensive” daily commutes.

Research by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) found fares have risen by around 32 per cent in nine years compared with 16% for average weekly earnings.

It comes as campaigners, trade unions and politicians hit out at an anticipated 3.5% rise in ticket costs next year, which could see some passengers shelling out more than £150 extra to get to work.

Bruce Williamson of transport campaign group Railfuture said: “For many people, the reality is that British rail transport is hideously expensive and set to get worse.”

The latest increase will be confirmed when the July Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation is released by the Office for National Statistics tomorrow.

The Department for Transport (DfT) uses July's RPI to determine the annual increase in regulated train fares, which comes into force every January.

ScotRail’s peak fares increased by 3.6% at the start of this year, with the cost of off peak tickets rising by 2.6%. Elsewhere in the UK, all regulated fares increased by 3.6%.

Campaigners argue fare rises should be pegged to the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), as it is generally lower than RPI. But the RMT said this would still have seen the cost of tickets increase 36% faster than wages over the same period.

It claimed commuters across the UK are being "ripped off", with train tickets "massively" more expensive than the rest of Europe.

Scottish Labour’s transport spokesman Colin Smyth branded the predicted fare hikes “totally unacceptable”, insisting they show the “great train robbery facing Scotland’s rail passengers continues”.

He said: “Scottish Labour research revealed that commuters were already paying up to a fifth of their wages on fares – and that is before another eye-watering hike.”

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said British rail fares are up to five times more expensive than elsewhere in Europe, adding: “That is nothing short of a scandal.”

He said: "Even if fares were pegged at the more modest CPI these latest increases would still massively outstrip wages leaving the British passenger to pay through the nose to travel on rammed out and unreliable services.

"Meanwhile the rail companies, the majority of whom are foreign state-owned, are using the British transport system as a cash-cow to hold down their own domestic fares. That is a nonsense and must be stopped.

"It is no wonder that passenger numbers are falling when they are paying more and more for less and less.”

He insisted this “latest kick in the teeth for passengers is another nail in the coffin for privatisation and it is now a question of when not if our railways are nationalised."

The Campaign for Better Transport, which promotes better bus and rail services, has urged the Government to "commit to a fares freeze" while services are improved. This was echoed by former Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis.

Next year’s anticipated fare hike comes as research showed passenger satisfaction with rail punctuality and reliability has fallen in the last decade.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, representing train companies, insisted 98p from every pound spent on train fares is invested back into the railways.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said ScotRail’s fare increases are lower on average than those elsewhere in the UK.

She said: “This is a result of our policy to place a cap that is lower than RPI on regulated off-peak fare increases, whereas the UK Government applies an increase at the level of RPI to all regulated fares.

"Passengers make a contribution towards the cost of running the railway through rail fares, however, we meet the majority of the cost of rail passenger services in Scotland.

"We have taken action to keep fares down: regulated ScotRail peak fares increases are capped at the level of the RPI and regulated off-peak fares at one per cent lower than inflation.”

A DfT spokesman said: "Any fare increase is unwelcome, but it is not fair to ask people who do not use trains to pay more for those who do.

"Taxpayers already subsidise the network by more than £4 billion a year – meaning that 38% of our transport budget is spent on the 2% of journeys that the railway accounts for."