SCOTRAIL was today accused of making new discount fares for older rail passengers less generous and more complicated than the ones they will replace, as it launched its Club 50 scheme.
From 14 September, cheaper off-peak fares will be offered to the over-50s rather than over-55s, and be available year-round rather than only for certain periods.
However, the previous £19 return flat fare anywhere in Scotland has been replaced with discounts of up to 20 per cent, with a £15 annual fee for those joining the scheme after the end of next month.
That means discounts will now be available for journeys costing less than £19 return, but the savings for more expensive journeys will be reduced.
Members of the new Club 50 will receive 20 per cent off tickets booked online, and 10 per cent off off-peak and advance fares at ticket offices.
ScotRail said those registering before 31 August would also get two £10 return fares anywhere in Scotland, and free on board tea and coffee where available. Outward journeys using these tickets must be started by the end of September and returns by 29 October.
But campaigner Gordon Casely said: “The devil lies in the detail. The scheme is unnecessarily complicated.
“These tickets appear cheap, but come with all kinds of bells, whistles and weighty conditions attached.”
Railfuture Scotland spokesman Ken Sutherland said: “There is a whiff of arrogant complacency that those who are the losers from scrapping the 17-year continuity of Club 55 can still be ‘taken for granted’ and will continue to fork out for the eye- watering costs of much longer-distance train travel.”
A ScotRail spokeswoman said: “We believe it is fairer to offer discounts all year round, and to include shorter trips.
“Club 55 was popular but it excluded 70 per cent of off-peak journeys because the normal fare was less than £19.
“With Club 50, everyone gets a discount for off-peak travel no matter the journey, so it’s much more flexible.”
Head of marketing Nesta Gilliland, said: “The £10 deal shows we are serious about providing excellent value to Club 50 members right from the off.
“Some 17,000 people have already noted interest in Club 50, and they too will be able to take advantage of the £10 deal.
“We’ll have more one-off deals from time to time.”