ScotRail commuters face highest fare rise in 5 years

Rush-hour travellers using ScotRail face a hike to pay for railway investment. Picture: PA
Rush-hour travellers using ScotRail face a hike to pay for railway investment. Picture: PA
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ScotRail commuters face their biggest fares hike for five years – but off-peak travellers will see a smaller rise than elsewhere.

Peak and season ticket prices will go up by 3.6 per cent from January - nearly double this year’s increase of 1.9 per cent.

Why not use the CPI for rail fares too? Passengers deserve a fairer deal

David Sidebottom

However, those travelling outside rush hours will pay only an extra 2.6 per cent because Scottish ministers have pegged the increase.

Cross-Border operators like Virgin, along with those in England, will raise fares across the board by 3.6 per cent.

The ScotRail increases mean peak fares (Anytime Day Returns) between Edinburgh and Glasgow will go up by 85p from £23.80 to £24.65. Off-peak Day Returns between the cities will increase by 35p from £12.70 to £13.05.

The operator, run by Dutch state railways offshoot Abellio, will hope its improved punctuality, and record passenger satisfaction, will reduce unhappiness at the increases. A spokesman said: “The independent National Rail Passenger Survey by [passenger watchdog] Transport Focus confirmed that nine out of ten customers are satisfied with ScotRail.

“The money from fares is being invested now to deliver an even better service in the future. We are building the best railway Scotland’s ever had, which will mean faster journeys, more seats and better services.”

The rises are based on last month’s retail price index (RPI) measure of inflation of 3.6 per cent, announced yesterday, which increased from 3.5 per cent in June.

However, Transport Focus called for the consumer prices index (CPI) inflation measure to be used instead.

Director David Sidebottom said: “Why is the UKGovernment not using its preferred measure of inflation: the one that is used to determine wages and pension increases, and one which is often lower than RPI? Why not use the CPI for rail fares too? Passengers deserve a fairer deal.”

The Government said RPI was used in the rail industry.

The increases re-open the debate over whether taxpayers or passengers should shoulder the cost of major spending on the never-more popular rail network to boost capacity when trains still account for fewer than 5 per cent of trips.

Transport minister Humza Yousaf said pegging fare rises “allows us to continue to invest in improvements, to grow passenger numbers and to ensure rail travel is fair, affordable and an attractive alternative to travelling by car.”

But the RMT union, which staged protests including at Glasgow Central, said: “The huge hike in fares is another kick in the teeth for passengers who already fork out colossal sums to travel on rammed-out, unreliable trains while the private operators are laughing all the way to the bank.

“With over three quarters of Britain’s railways now in the hands of foreign states, these huge sums of money aren’t being invested in essential upgrades and modernisation.”