SNP scheme criticised

Rail discount benefited fewer than 1% of travellers

Glasgow station and ScotRail
Few passengers benefited from cheap ticket scheme (pic: Terry Murden)

A discount travel scheme to encourage more people to use the train benefited fewer than 1% of those who bought tickets, it has emerged.

Scottish Labour has branded the SNP’s half price rail ticket scheme “farcical” and an attempt chase headlines rather than tackle the rising cost of transport.

The flagship scheme was hailed by the Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth as a response to the cost of living crisis and proof that the new publicly-owned ScotRail “is focused on passengers’ needs and interests”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also welcomed the scheme, saying: “We want people to return to travelling by rail, but we know that we need to make it affordable for it to be a truly attractive alternative to using the car”.

However, Labour said it did not apply to peak-time trains, weekend trains, and tickets bought at the station. 

Under a Freedom of Information request, Scottish Labour has found that just 13,639 (0.88%) of 1,550,773 tickets bought during the scheme’s duration – 9 to 31 May – benefited from the discount. 

Scottish Labour chief whip Rhoda Grant said:  “This farcical scheme lays bare the gulf between SNP spin and reality.

“People desperately needed a lifeline during the cost of living crisis, but this pitiful response is the best the SNP could muster.

“This was a pathetic attempt to chase a headline on the cheap – not a serious attempt to tackle rip-off fares and support our railways.

“This is a damning symbol of the SNP’s lack of ambition for our publicly-owned railways, which have fallen into chaos as a result of the SNP’s relentless incompetence.” 

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