Monday rail hike bleak news for passengers
Written by First Choice Radio on 2 July 2023
A hike in rail fares from Monday is “bleak news” for travellers amid the current cost of living crisis, opposition politicians told ministers.
With ScotRail to rise ticket prices for most journeys by 4.8%, Conservatives condemned the “steep rise”.
Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton insisted the cost of travelling by train should remain frozen “until at least the end of the year”.
The rise in fares, which comes in 15 months after ScotRail was taken into public ownership, will not apply to season and flexi tickets, in a bid to ensure those who make the most frequent journeys are not impacted.
But Scottish Conservative transport spokesperson Graham Simpson said: “This steep fares rise is a bitter pill for hard-pressed commuters to swallow, particularly in the middle of a global cost-of-living crisis.”
The Tory added that the price hike was also “entirely at odds with the SNP-Greens’ stated mission to get people out of their cars and on to public transport instead”.
Hitting out at the Scottish Government, Mr Simpson said: “Nicola Sturgeon promised us things would get better when she nationalised ScotRail last year – but the opposite has happened.
“Rail users have endured reduced services, cancellations, industrial action and now rising ticket prices.”
Mr Cole-Hamilton similarly described Monday’s rise in travel prices as “bleak news for rail users”.
The Lib Dem said: “I am calling for fares to be frozen until at least the end of the year, providing much-needed respite for hardworking commuters and everyone travelling around the country during these trying times.
“The SNP/Green Government’s response to the cost-of-living crisis has been abject and they have just missed the all-important climate targets yet again.
“Control of rail fares is within their hands yet rail users are seeing price increases.”
He continued: “Now that ScotRail is in public hands, we need long-term ticketing solutions to encourage people to rely on rail travel, backed by trains that run on time.”
Speaking last month when the rise was announced, Transport Secretary Mairi McAllan said while the Government had frozen fares as part of its response to the cost-of-living crisis, it was “simply no longer sustainable” to do so.
But she said the 4.8% rise was lower than the 5.9% increase in fares being brought in across the rest of the UK, and was also below inflation.
Ms McAllan said: “This below-inflation increase means fares remain, on average, lower than across the rest of Great Britain.
A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “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.”
“The fares increase does not include season tickets and flexi-passes which remain frozen at current prices.
“For over a decade the Scottish Government has kept fares increases down by ensuring they are in line with RPI, or even lower in the case of off-peak fares.
“This increase is less than inflation and means fares remain, on average, lower than across the rest of Great Britain where the most recent increase was almost 6%.”
The spokesperson continued: “Fares have now been frozen for almost 18 months, however, that is no longer sustainable.
“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.
“Work continues to deliver a ScotRail peak fares removal pilot from October this year, alongside wider work on our Fair Fares review.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub