TRAIN passengers in Inverclyde will see fares rise by more than £50 next year with rail bosses being accused of 'rip-off' prices.

The cost of travelling on ScotRail services will go up from January, it has been announced.

Fares will rise by 2.8 per cent in line with the retail price index (RPI) measure of inflation.

It means the cost of a season ticket from Wemyss Bay to Glasgow will increase by £55 to £2,035 in 2020.

From Gourock, a yearly rail pass will rise by £52 to £1,904.

Anytime single and return tickets will also increase by 2.8 per cent during peak times, with off-peak fares to go up by 1.8 per cent.

Labour MSP Neil Bibby has hit out at the price hikes, which are set by the Scottish Government and not train operators ScotRail.

Mr Bibby, who represents the west of Scotland, said: "It's simply unfair for hard-pressed Inverclyde commuters to pay more and more for services which are continually plagued by delays, cancellations and overcrowding.

"This rip-off fare increase, is unwanted, unwelcome and unnecessary and will hit thousands of working people in Inverclyde and across Scotland who use our railways to get to work."

Mr Bibby says Scotland's rail franchise system is 'broken'.

He told the Tele: "We need to bring ScotRail back into public hands to bring an end to these rip off fares and to deliver a railway system that puts passengers first not private train companies."

Officials in charge of the country's train network say money raised from ticket sales is put to good use, including on the new fleet of electric trains.

Lesley Kane, ScotRail's commercial director, said: "Eighty five per cent of our revenue comes from fares set by the Scottish Government, which decides how much our customers pay.

"The money generated from fares is reinvested back into Scotland's railway, including £475 million under Abellio in new and upgraded trains, and improved punctuality, so that we can give our customers the service they expect and deserve."

Government chiefs have defended the price hikes, insisting rises are capped and tickets in Scotland cost around a fifth less than in the rest of the UK.

A spokesperson said: "We are committed to ensuring that rail fares are affordable for passengers and taxpayers across Scotland. "We have capped increases where we have influence, making fares 20 per cent cheaper on average than in the rest of Great Britain.

"While any fare increase is unwelcome, calls for measures such fares cuts or a fares freeze underestimate the impact of these on the public purse. "Two-thirds of the cost of running the railway is already met through Scottish Government subsidy, with the remainder through rail passenger revenues. "Any change to rail fares could therefore have a significant impact on the taxpayer."

Holyrood officials say they are awaiting the findings of a UK Government report into fares and reforming the rail franchise system before deciding on whether to make any changes.