Rail passengers may have to face further increases in ticket prices after Network Rail announced a £9bn project to improve the Great Western main line.
The investment, the biggest since the Victorian era, was announced this week and includes a programme of electrification, signalling upgrades and providing new, longer trains between 2014 and 2019.
It is hoped the project will help tackle problems including severe overcrowding on routes between the Thames Valley and London, after a rush hour morning train from Maidenhead to Paddington was named the most overloaded in the country.
But the company warned of 'trade-offs' needed to deliver the programme, with many experts predicting above-inflation fare increases for years to come.
It comes after commuters were hit by another hike in fares to mark the start of 2013, with First Great Western (FGW) introducing a 4.2 per cent increase in the price of season tickets and other regulated fares.
A 12-month season ticket from Maidenhead to Paddington now costs £2,756, an increase of more than £100, while a 12-month season ticket from Twyford to London has risen from £3,105 to £3,236.
A 12-month season ticket from Slough to Paddington now costs £2,344, an increase of more than £100.
A spokesman for FGW said: "We understand that these are tough times for many people but the money raised by Government through fares ensures investment in more trains, better stations and faster services."
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