For millions of Brits returning to work after the festive break, the news that rail fares had risen yet again only added to their misery.
Increases in train ticket prices have become as much of a January tradition as giving up alcohol or booking a summer break.
But this year's news appeared worse than usual.
Price rises averaged almost 4 per cent across the UK, with some season tickets now costing 10 per cent more than in 2012.
Prices up 50% in 10 years
Even more startling was the fact that, overall, fares have increased by half in the last decade.
In an ideal world, travelling by public transport would save drivers time and money when compared with the costs of running a car such as fuel and car insurance.
So why is the cost of train travel going through the roof?
Under the complex financial deals that the government strikes with the companies which run our rail franchises, these firms are allowed to hike "regulated" fares – which include off-peak and season tickets – by 1 per cent above inflation at the start of each year.
The cost of other tickets, however, can be raised more quickly.
This explains why it costs so much to travel if you try to buy just before your service departs.
Commenting on the price rises, transport minister Norman Baker misread the public mood dreadfully.
He said: "You could argue people who are travelling in the rush hour are using the premium product and ought to pay something which reflects that."
Baker even claimed that the punctuality record of British trains was better than that of Germany, although his spokesman later admitted that there was no evidence to substantiate this claim.
For the vast majority of commuters who have no option but to use the rail network during peak times, the idea that they are receiving a premium service is laughable.
Perhaps these price rises would be more palatable if the railways weren't in such a state.
Lack of investment
Trains are invariably overcrowded, punctuality is poor, delays are common and rolling stock is outdated. This is the reality of modern rail travel in Britain.
The current system in which the Department for Transport, Network Rail – the organisation supposedly responsible for infrastructure – and the train operators argue among themselves over who is responsible for investing in the railways simply isn't working.
The House of Commons Transport Select Committee has recommended that the government set up a new body dedicated to dealing with rail franchises.
This follows last year's fiasco over the awarding of the west coast mainline contract.
Privatisation not working
MPs on the committee also wants more transparency over costs and subsidies, and better integration between rail and other aspects of transport policy, both of which would be welcome.
The current state of railway privatisation means that the taxpayer is still paying huge subsidies because the train companies are not delivering the efficiencies we were promised when British Rail was scrapped.
The problem is that train operators have a captive market as most people who commute by train do so because there is no realistic alternative.
But if prices continue to rise and conditions continue to deteriorate, something will surely have to give.
What do you think?
Are you a commuter vexed by rising rail fares?
What's the best way to tackle the ever-spiralling cost of travelling by train?
We want to hear from you! You can share your views on the message board below.