'Rule out rip-off rail fares for passengers', ministers told

Scottish Labour has warned against the prospect of fares increasing.

Scottish Labour urge ministers to rule out ‘rip-off rail fare’ increases for passengers iStock

Rail passengers could be hit by “eye-watering” fare increases, amid calls for ministers to take action to keep costs down.

ScotRail was taken into public ownership on April 1 this year, ending the tenure of Dutch firm Abellio.

The First Minister hailed the nationalisation of the rail operator as a “very significant moment”, and pledged a fair fares review would be part of the work that would be undertaken.

However, Scottish Labour has warned against the prospect of ticket prices seeing a jump.

In December last year, ScotRail announced that passengers would be hit by the largest fare rises in nearly a decade.

The rail operator argued that the revenue from fares is “essential” to allowing it to run a service.

Labour has now called on the SNP to rule out a “rip-off rise”, with Scots facing a cost-of-living crisis.

“The last thing Scotland’s long-suffering rail passengers need is a record-breaking fare hikes next winter, at the very time people will be struggling to heat their homes,” he said.

“This year the SNP nodded through the biggest increases in a decade during a cost of living crisis – they cannot make the same mistake again.

“If the SNP continue with their signature blend of chronic mismanagement and punitive fare hikes it spells disaster for Scotland’s railways and our emissions targets.

“This will be the first fare rise since they took full control of ScotRail – they need to show what kind of a railway they want to run and rule out a rip-off rise.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said that the Government has kept fare increases down for a decade.

“The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that rail fares are affordable for passengers and taxpayers across Scotland,” they said.

“That includes taking time to consider what future fares increases would look like – no decisions have been taken yet with regards to the RPI figure just announced.

“For a decade, the Scottish Government has kept fares increases down by ensuring they are in line with no more than RPI, with some fares on average up to 20% cheaper than the rest of Great Britain.”

They added: “We know how challenging the cost of living crisis is for people who need to use public transport right now, and are looking carefully at what more can be done to ensure that passengers can get the best value fare for their journey at all times.

“Public ownership of ScotRail means delivering a service which listens and responds to passenger need. We will continue to develop further initiatives with longer term benefits that make rail a better choice as we work towards our ambitious Net Zero targets.”