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As Virgin warns of APD threat to services...

16 million rail fares to undergo simplification

Rail passengers could save up to £260 a journey under a pilot scheme to simplify the network’s “baffling” fares system.

It will aim to ensure travellers are always offered the cheapest possible fare.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators, says there are a staggering 16 million fares on offer.

The trial will run from May and is expected to benefit those travelling on cross-country trains between Scotland and south-west England.

A traveller buying an off-peak return from Wick, in northern Scotland, to Par, in Cornwall, can currently pay up to £342.50. However, by buying six fares for each leg of the journey, passengers can pay as little as £80.

Those travelling between London and Glasgow, or London and Edinburgh, are also likely to benefit from the simplified pricing structure.

Operators currently have to offer a return fare between these cities, which is regulated by the government.

Jacqueline Starr, RDG director of customer experience, said: “We’re determined to overhaul the system to cut out red-tape, jargon and complication to make it easier for customers to buy fares they can trust, including from ticket machines.”

The trial will also see the removal of some historic fares which do not make sense.

Commenting on the warning from Virgin Trains that around a third of Edinburgh-to-London rail journeys could be lost if the SNP presses ahead with the abolition of Air Passenger Duty, Scottish Labour transport spokesperson Neil Bibby said:  “Cutting Air Passenger Duty won’t make Scotland fairer or greener. It would be the wrong move at the wrong time. 

“We should be doing all we can to boost sustainable travel, encouraging people to travel on train where possible for short domestic journeys. The SNP should listen to this warning from Virgin Trains and should be working to make rail travel more affordable.

“Across Scotland our schools, NHS and police force are facing hundreds of millions of pounds of cuts – it shouldn’t be the SNP Government’s priority to make a business class flight cheaper. 

“With record passenger numbers at Scottish airports it would be the wrong move to offer a huge tax break to airlines which simply don’t need it, and kick off a race to the bottom with other parts of the UK. The SNP needs to scrap its plans to cut air passenger duty.”

> EasyJet flew a record number of passengers to and from Scotland during 2016 – more than any airline has ever flown in one year.

More than 6.4m passengers flew with airlin during the course of the year – an 11% increase on the previous year and 30% more than five years ago. Two million of those passengers were travelling for business.

Of the 6.4m, Edinburgh accounted for just over 3.6m passengers with Glasgow accounting for just over 2m passengers. Inverness and Aberdeen accounted for around 480,000 passengers and 231,000 respectively.

EasyJet is the largest airline in Scotland, carrying almost one in four Scottish travellers and in 2017 will grow further with an increase in the number of seats on sale of around 5% to over 7.4m.

The airline will also use a second A320 aircraft in Glasgow from March and will  retrofit its current Glasgow based plane to a 186-seat configuration.

 

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