Last week's revelation that double-digit rail fares could be on the cards has seen a desperate coalition casting about for how to stem the tide of commuter rage. Yesterday the Department of Transport said it was considering 'early-bird' fares for people who travel before the rush hour.
So how would it work, and why has it been forced to take drastic action?
The pressure started mounting with the publication of the inflation figures last week. The July figures are used to set the following year's ticket price rises, so a surprise jump to 3.2% means passengers will face an average price rise of 6.2%. Some fares will even hit £5,000 for a commuter season ticket
As we reported last week, the rises quickly attracted huge criticism from politicians and commuters. There were even protests in a number of railway stations. George Osborne's policy of allowing train operators to increase regulated fares 3% above July's RPI was criticised for being rigid and unfair.
One particular concern for the Conservative Party is that many of these outraged commuters live in key parts of the country, with slim Conservative majorities. There's a real risk that ill-conceived price rises could be the nail in the coffin for Tory support in these areas. MPs from these constituencies have been openly calling for the Treasury to cap price rises as it did last year.
Some politicians are optimistic. Transport Secretary Justine Greening said: "I am keen to see what we can do to keep rail fares down to something affordable" Then when she was asked whether there would be Treasury money available for rail that would enable the fare rise to be reduced. She replied: "Well, if you don't ask, you don't get." There is hope, therefore, that the Autumn statement from the Treasury could soften the blow.
Early bird tickets
One alternative to capping that is being suggested, according to the Daily Express, is cheaper tickets for those who travel before the rush hour. Sir Roy McNulty's review of the railways released in March called for increased segmentation of prices - which would mean rail companies would be able to offer cheaper services before the rush hour, and higher prices at the very busiest times.
There are no figures being suggested at the moment, but it could mean as much as a 10% discount for those who are able to start their working day an hour or two earlier.
If the Treasury frees up the cash to pay for it, this could mollify commuter voters and restore a bit of calm in the coalition. But what do you think? is there any hope, or will the railways become the preserve of the wealthy? Let us know in the comments.
10 of the biggest consumer rip-offs
Political drama could mean 'early bird' rail discounts
Using a mobile phone to make and receive calls, send texts and browse the web while abroad can be extremely costly – especially if you are travelling outside the European Union (EU), where calls can cost up to 10 times as much as at home.
To avoid high charges, Carphone Warehouse suggests tourists ensure a data cap is in place, use applications to check data usage, turn off 'data roaming', avoid data-intensive applications such as Google Maps and YouTube and use wi-fi spots to update social networking sites.
Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) is supposed to help people to continue meeting their loan, mortgage or credit card repayments if they fall ill or lose their jobs. However, policies are often over-priced, riddled with exclusions and sold to people who could not make a claim if they needed to.
At one point, sale of this cover - which was often included automatically in loan repayments - was estimated to boost the banks' profits by up to £5 billion a year.
Now, though, consumers who were mis-sold PPI can fight back by complaining to the bank or lender concerned and taking their case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (08000 234567) should the response prove unsatisfactory.
It could be you, but let's face it, it probably won't be. In fact, buying a ticket for the Lotto only gives you a 1 in 13.9 million chance of winning the jackpot.
With odds like that, you would almost certainly be better off hanging on to your cash and saving it in a high-interest account.
No-frills airlines such as EasyJet may promote rock-bottom prices on their websites. But the overall fare you pay can be surprisingly high once extras such as luggage and credit card payment fees have been added - a process known as drip pricing.
Taking one piece of hold baggage on a return EasyJet flight, for example, adds close to £20 to the cost of your flight, while paying by credit card increases the price by a further £10.
It may therefore be worth comparing the total cost with that of a flight with a standard airline such as British Airways.
Cash advances, which include cash withdrawals, are generally charged at a much higher rate of interest than standard purchases.
While the average credit card interest rate is around 17%, a typical cash withdrawal of £500, for example, is charged at more than 26%.
What's more, as the interest accrues from the date of the transaction, rather than the next payment date, costs will mount up even if you clear your balance in full with your next payment.
Supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda often run promotions under which you can, for example, get three products for the price of two.
However, it is only worth taking advantage of these deals if you will actually use the products. Otherwise, you are simply buying for the sake of it, which is a waste of your hard-earned cash.
Buy a train ticket at the station on the day of travel and the price is likely to give you a shock - especially if you are travelling a long distance at a busy time of day.
However, you can cut the cost of train travel by 50% or more by going online and making the purchase beforehand - especially if you book 12 weeks in advance, which is when the cheapest tickets are on sale.
Other ways to reduce the price you pay include avoiding peak times and taking advantage of so-called carnet tickets, which allow you to buy, for example, 12 journeys for the price of 10.
Most High Street banks offer packaged accounts that come with monthly fees ranging from £6.50 up to as much as £40, with a typical account charging about £15 per month.
Various benefits, such as travel insurance and mobile phone insurance, are offered in return for this fee. But whether or not it is worth paying for them depends on your individual circumstances.