Nicola Sturgeon has been told that rail fares in Scotland are “outrageous”, ahead of the nationalisation of ScotRail.
At FMQs on Thursday, Scottish Conservative MSP Stephen Kerr asked what plans the First Minister has in order to reduce fares in the country.
Sturgeon told MSPs that ministers want to ensure that fares are as “affordable as possible”.
However, she pointed out that “on average”, fares in Scotland are cheaper than they are in the rest of the UK.
Raising the issue, Kerr said: “In a few day’s time, Nicola Sturgeon and her government become fully responsible for the operation and performance of ScotRail.
“If you were travelling from Falkirk to Edinburgh and back every day of the working week, it costs just £72.50 a week.
“If you’re travelling from Falkirk to Glasgow and back every day of the working week, it costs you £85.50.
“These fares are outrageous.”
He continued: “The RMT union has called out her government for a 38% increase in fares since 2012.
“So what is the First Minister’s plan to reduce fares and get more people out of their cars and onto trains?”
The First Minister pledged that the Scottish Government will continue to make investments in the country’s railway.
“I’m not sure Stephen Kerr’s fondness for the RMT will be reciprocated, but that is a matter entirely for them,” she responded.
“We will continue to make the investments in our railway to improve passenger services because it is really important for the country’s connectivity that we do have good quality railway services.
“And I believe bringing the railway into public ownership will help us with that. Yes, that will be under Scottish Government control from later this year.
“I haven’t noticed of course before now that the Scottish Government has escaped responsibility or accountability for these matters, but we will perhaps have more ability to shape things in future.”
Sturgeon explained that a greater proportion of the investment in railways in Scotland comes from subsidies from the Government, in comparison to railways in other parts of the UK.
“Part of a high quality railway is affordable fares,” the First Minister continued.
“We need the investment in our railway and I think less of the investment in the railways in Scotland comes from passengers through fares than is the case in other parts of the UK, more of it comes from government subidy.
“But of course, we want fares to be affordable and as affordable as possible.
“But I come back to the point I made earlier on – on average, rail fares in Scotland are 20% cheaper than they are in the rest of the UK where, if memory serves me correctly, Stephen Kerr’s party is in government.”