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ScotRail commuters face 3% rise in rail fares

ScotRail commuters will pay over 3% more for tickets. Picture: ScotRail/Complimentary

ScotRail commuters will pay over 3% more for tickets. Picture: ScotRail/Complimentary

  • by ALASTAIR DALTON
 

SCOTRAIL commuters will pay an extra 3.1 per cent for their rail fares from January, while off-peak tickets will be frozen.

The Scottish Government has held down the peak increase to the inflation rate, while other train operators such as East Coast and Virgin Trains will raise fares by an extra 1 per cent under as established formula.

ScotRail, whose franchise is up for renewal in 2015, said the fares freeze would cover four in ten journeys, while the peak fares rise would be no higher than inflation.

A spokeswoman said: “This means we continue to provide better value for money for customers in Scotland, especially when fuel and energy costs continue to rise steeply.

“We will also continue to invest. We are committed to making rail journeys more pleasant as well as delivering high levels of punctuality.

“This is striking a chord with customers, with nine out of ten saying they are satisfied with their rail journeys.”

RPI

The freeze was announced by ministers last December, and will also apply in 2015 so long as RPI remains below 3.5 per cent in July next year.

It was 3.1 per cent last month, the figure used for calculating the January 2014 fares change.

The peak fares increase will be capped at the RPI rate.

The Scottish Government said the move was to encourage more train travel, which has already increased by one third over the last nine years.

A spokesman said: “We want to see continue the shift from road to rail which has resulted in more than 83 million passengers travelling on ScotRail services in the past year, and have earmarked a £5 billion package of investment in better trains, better stations and better services to meet that ambition.

“We already pays 75p in the £1 for every train ticket bought in Scotland, but we want to do more.

“We’ve ensured when the ScotRail franchise is renewed in 2015 that peak fares cannot rise above inflation and off peak tickets will be capped to even less.”

‘Long-suffering passengers need service to match’

Other operators whose fares will increase by 4.1 per cent include CrossCountry and First TransPennine Express, which run trains in Scotland.

Watchdog body Passenger Focus said such long-suffering travellers must get a service to match.

Passenger director David Sidebottom said: “Passengers will shrug wearily at the news that regulated fares in England are set to rise, following today’s announcement about the July inflation figure, next January by an average of 4.1 per cent.

“Now passengers are the main funders of the railway, it is crucial that, in return for this rise, more trains arrive on time, investment in future improvements continues and the basic promises the industry make are delivered.”

Mr Sidebottom also criticised operators being able to increase some fares by more than 4.1 per cent.

He said: “The way train companies are allowed so much flexibility to set fares on individual routes is unfair.

“With regulated fares going up by RPI plus 1 per cent, some passengers could still be facing steep rises on their route.

“There is a need for some flexibility but not this much. Train companies cannot explain to an individual passenger why their fare has gone up by a certain amount. That is not transparent or fair.”

 

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