LONDON — British commuters are facing stiff increases in rail fares on the first work day of the new year.

Travelers on Tuesday faced average fare hikes of 3.4 percent, prompting howls from activist groups and London’s mayor amid complaints of unreliable rail service.

Anthony Smith, chief of the independent group Transport Focus, said fares are going up as workers’ wages stagnate, placing an unfair burden on commuters.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said it was wrong to burden commuters with “eye-watering fare hikes today after suffering 12 months of delays, cancellations and poor service.”

He said the government and private rail companies have to give passengers better service at a fair price.

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