BETTER train services should be provided across South Lakeland if rail companies are to justify increased fares.

This is the message campaigners are sending to rail companies following a 3.1 per cent increase on the average train ticket.

“Certainly, in this area there’s inadequate capacity, not all stations have a good service and services are irregular,” said Peter Robinson, chairman of the Furness Line Community Rail Partnership.

“When fares are increased it should mean services are improved.”

A single ticket to travel on the Furness Line from Barrow to Carnforth is now £10.60, and a peak return will set travellers back £11.80 a day.

“It’s a lot of money for a ticket when often people get turned away because there’s only one coach and it’s full,” added Mr Robinson.

“The one that calls at Grange at about 11am is especially bad and by that point it’s been an-hour-and-a-half since the last train.”

Fares increased across the UK last Thursday and will see ticket prices rise by an average of 3.1 per cent, up to a maximum of 5.1 per cent, making a peak return from Oxenholme to London £339.

But South Lakes MP Tim Farron said there has been ‘no sign of improvements’ to justify the price hikes.

“It’s very poor timing,” he said. “The cost of living is a struggle for many people, so to be putting up rail fares is a big blow for people who have no choice but to pay, while those who do have a choice will be pushed back into using their cars.

“If the cost of train travel is too much tourists will either come by car, which is not what we want environmentally, or they will go elsewhere.”

In 2010 Mr Farron joined several other MPs to take a stand against rising ticket prices.

Now more than 50 Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green and Scottish National Party MPs have signed a parliamentary motion calling for the re-nationalisation of the UK’s railways, which was tabled earlier this year.

Mr Farron added: “It’s rail companies trying to maximise their profit up-front without thinking that there is a long-term cost.”