Train fares will rise by an average of 1.1 per cent today – the smallest annual increase since 2010.
But campaigners warn some passengers would be “amazed” there are any fare rises at all due to the quality of service.
Figures from Network Rail show more than one in 10 trains arrived at their final destination at least five minutes late in the past year.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “In some parts of the country rail performance has been so dire, passengers will be amazed there are any fare rises at all.”
Bruce Williamson of campaign group Railfuture claimed fares were “increasingly divorced from reality”.
The average rise for regulated fares – around half of all tickets and all annual passes – was limited to one per cent as it is linked to July’s rate of Retail Price Index inflation.
But unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets, will rise at train companies’ discretion.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “On average 97p in every pound from fares is spent on trains, staff and running costs.”
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “We are helping hard-working people with the cost of transport. We’ve put a stop to inflation-busting increases in regulated fares until 2020.
“This will save the average season ticket holder £425 in this Parliament, and means earnings are outstripping rail fare increases for first time in a decade.
“Our plan for passengers is improving journeys for everyone - it’s transforming the tickets people buy, how much they pay for them, the trains they sit on, how quickly they arrive and the stations they arrive in.”