New Year increases to rail fares have been described as "a kick in the teeth" to Dartford commuters.

Passengers travelling from the town will now pay 3.2 per cent more for their commute to London.

Those purchasing an annual season ticket will have to cough up £2,560, a rise of £80 from last year's fare.

Other stations in north Kent are also affected by the annual season ticket price increases - commuters from Stone will now have to pay £2,584, from Greenhithe it will be £2,604; and from Swanscombe passengers will have to fork out £3,192.

The fare hike has been met with much criticism across the country, with organised protests organised at railway stations in London.

Speaking outside Dartford station on the morning the price hikes came into force, Dartford Labour leader Jonathan Hawkes blasted the decision to increase rail fairs into London, noting high levels of disruption recorded in services last year.

"Today's increases are a disgrace and a real kick in the teeth for rail passengers in Dartford. Fares have gone up over 30 per cent since 2010.

"What rail users in Dartford have told us is that they expect to see the service improve in exchange for higher fares, but we just aren’t seeing that.

"We saw huge levels of disruption last year with the botched introduction of the new timetable," he said.

Last year, a survey conduced by consumer group Which? found Southeastern Railways was voted the second worst rail operator in the country by commuters. It tied with Thameslink and Great Northern in the rankings.

A spokesman for Southeastern said: "We understand that no one likes to see prices go up, especially our season ticket holders. We keep fare increases to a minimum and have frozen unregulated advance fares at January 2018 prices.

"The government regulates annual fare increases, primarily season tickets, to meet the costs of running and upkeep of Britain’s railways.

"Just two pence of every pound from train fares is profit – the rest goes back into the rail industry for running, maintaining and improving the network. For unregulated fares – including off-peak travel – we offer discounted ticket prices, special offers and promotional fares.

"We are committed to making journeys better for passengers and have invested over £78m in improving train services and station facilities over the past three years, refurbishing a third of our train fleet and providing better quality information to help people with their journeys.

"In addition, we have taken on 300 extra frontline staff to assist passengers, invested £5m in repainting and revamped all 165 of the stations we manage."

Last year, a report released by Network Rail showed passengers in the south east are not expected to see improvements to the punctuality of services until at least 2024.