Transport Scotland announces 2% increase in peak-time rail fares

Peak time costs are to increase. Picture Michael Gillen
Peak time costs are to increase. Picture Michael Gillen
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Peak-time regulated rail fares in Scotland are to rise by 1.9 per cent next year.

The increase is linked to July’s retail price index (RPI) measure of inflation announced by the Office for National Statistics and will take effect from January.

Train fares are due to increase. Picture; John Devlin

Train fares are due to increase. Picture; John Devlin

The rise in regulated off-peak fares north of the Border will be kept at RPI minus one per cent as part of the Abellio ScotRail franchise contract.

Regulated fares include “anytime” singles and returns, off-peak singles and returns, and season tickets.

Any rises in unregulated fares, such as super off-peak and advanced fares, will be decided by ScotRail.

At the beginning of 2016, the cost of regulated fares went up by one per cent in Scotland, England and Wales.

Research by the TUC and the Action For Rail union campaign showed fares have risen by double the speed of wages since 2010. The analysis revealed that ticket prices have increased by 25 per cent in the last six years while average weekly earnings have grown by 12 per cent.

The Scottish Greens said the latest rise strengthened the case for putting rail services back into public ownership.

Green MSP John Finnie said: “Unfortunately, most of us come to expect, and begrudgingly accept, an annual rise in peak ticket prices. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.

“Privatised railways are an enormous failed experiment and we saw the East Coast service turned around under public ownership.

“Rail users in Scotland will undoubtedly be looking back at last year’s ScotRail franchise bid as a massively wasted opportunity by the Scottish Government to make peak rail use more affordable.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The Scottish Government wants to see more people take the train, particularly during off-peak periods when there is more capacity on the network, and recognises that prices have to be affordable and fair.

“Scottish ministers ensure that fares are kept below certain thresholds by regulating the maximum permitted annual increase for selected fares, including anytime and season tickets, to the level of the retail price index (RPI) for regulated peak fares and one per cent below RPI for regulated off-peak fares.

“Because the Scottish Government have set regulated off-peak fares at one per cent below RPI, rail passengers will continue to benefit from regulated off-peak fares typically lower than the rest of the UK.”

Meanwhile, a planned strike by Virgin Trains East Coast has been suspended.