Rail fares hike ‘will deter travellers choosing trains’
A decision to hike rail fares by a further 4.8% from next month will deter people from travelling by train, according to a trade union.
Fares will go up from 3 July, except for season and flexi tickets which remain frozen at current prices.
The Scottish Government says freezing fares to help with the cost of living crisis “is no longer sustainable” and the rise is “substantially lower than inflation and below recent rises in incomes”.
It is also lower than increases elsewhere in the UK where fares recently increased by 5.9%.
A peak return ticket travelling between Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh Waverley will pay £1.30 more but will save £14 during the ScotRail peak fares removal pilot which launches in October.
But Gary Kelly, ScotRail organiser for the transport and travel union TSSA accused the Scottish Government of talking about more people using public transport but then pricing them out of doing so.
“This announcement is bad news for anyone hoping to ditch the car this summer. Increasing rail fares is only going to put people off travelling by train in the middle of a cost of living crisis,” he said.
“The SNP like to talk the talk about net zero targets but they can’t walk the walk. We need a fares freeze for everyone if we want to get serious about greening the economy and a public railway run in the public interest.
“The first act of the incoming Transport Secretary, Màiri McAllan, should be to scrap this increase immediately.”
Ministers say they have agreed the fares increase after lengthy consideration to ensure rail services are sustainable in the longer term and that budgets align with the overall funding available.
Ms McAllan, who yesterday had transport added to her net zero and just transition portfolio, said: “The Scottish Government rightly made the decision to freeze fares as part of its response to the cost-of-living crisis.
“While this has now remained in place for around 18 months, it is simply no longer sustainable.
“This below inflation increase means fares remain, on average, lower than across the rest of Great Britain.
“We know that any increase is unwelcome for passengers, therefore we have kept the rise as low as possible to maintain the attractiveness and affordability of rail as a travel option.
“We aim to continue this approach with the peaks fares removal pilot from October this year.”
Scottish Labour Transport spokesperson Alex Rowley said: “These eye-watering fare hikes will be a blow to rail passengers during the worst cost of living crisis in decades, and will hit the lowest paid workers hardest.
“Our railways are already unreliable and overpriced, and now these punitive fare hikes will price drive even more people off trains.
“This is not what public ownership should look like – we need a public transport system that works for people and not for profit, and pricing people off trains is not the way to go about this.”