ScotRail travelers will be hit by a ‘steep’ fare increase from Monday

ScotRail fare increases will affect travelers from Monday, with ticket prices up 4.8%.

It comes after a six-month tariff freeze, announced by the Scottish Government in January, expired in June.

The increase excludes season tickets and flexible tickets – these will remain frozen at their current prices, in an effort to encourage regular use of rail services.

ScotRail became public property in April last year.

The government said in June that the gains were lower than elsewhere in the UK, where ticket prices have soared nearly 6% in some areas this year.

However, the rise was called “dismal” by opposition politicians, with Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton instead calling for a freeze.

“Now that ScotRail is in the hands of the public, we need a long-term ticketing solution to encourage people to rely on rail travel, supported by trains running on time,” he said.

Cole-Hamilton added: “We would like to see fare cuts, new options for two/three day a week season tickets and for the government to work with council to explore new lines, especially in areas with inadequate public transport links.”

Scotland’s Conservative shadow transport minister Graham Simpson MSP called the fare increase a “bitter pill for struggling commuters to swallow”.

Simpson added that the price increases were also “totally at odds with SNP-Greens’ stated mission to get people out of their cars and onto public transit”.

He continued: “Nicola Sturgeon promised us things would get better when he nationalized ScotRail last year – but the opposite has happened.

“Railway users have experienced reduced service, cancellations, industrial action, and now ticket prices are rising.”

In June, when the increases were announced, transport secretary Mairi McAllan said while the Government was freezing tariffs as part of its response to the cost of living crisis, it was “no longer sustainable” to do so.

But he said the 4.8% increase was less than the 5.9% rate increase being brought across the UK, and was also below inflation.

McAllan said: “This rise under inflation means average rates remain lower than across the UK.

“We know that any hike is not to the liking of passengers, therefore we keep the hike as low as possible to maintain the attractiveness and affordability of rail as a travel option.

“We aim to continue this approach with a pilot removal of peak tariffs starting in October this year.”

Earlier this year, First Minister Humza Yousaf said he wanted to make Scotland’s public transport system “more accessible, available and affordable”.

As a result, he announced a pilot program that removes peak-time train fares, launching in October 2023.

A spokesperson for Transport Scotland said: “For more than a decade, the Scottish Government has kept rates up by ensuring they are in line with RPI, or even lower in the case of off-peak rates.

“These increases are less than inflationary and mean rates remain, on average, lower than the rest of the UK where the most recent increase was almost 6%.

“Tariffs have now been frozen for nearly 18 months, but they are no longer sustainable. We know that any hike is frowned upon by passengers, which is why we keep the hike as low as possible to maintain the appeal and affordability of rail as a travel option.

“Work continues to pilot ScotRail’s peak fare elimination pilot from October this year, alongside more extensive work on our Fair Fare review.”

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