Scottish Government warned reintroducing ScotRail peak rail fares would be 'hugely retrograde' step

Environmental campaigners and trade unions call for permanent scrapping of peak fares

Trade unions and environmental groups have joined forces to call for the permanent scrapping of peak rail fares in Scotland.

A Scottish Government-funded pilot was launched in October last year that enabled rail passengers to pay off-peak fares all day.

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The initiative, which has since been extended to the end of June, cut the cost of travel across the country, with the price of a ticket between Glasgow and Edinburgh almost halving.

Peak rail fares have been scrapped until the end of June, as part of a pilot schemePeak rail fares have been scrapped until the end of June, as part of a pilot scheme
Peak rail fares have been scrapped until the end of June, as part of a pilot scheme

Now, a range of groups have come together to write to transport secretary Fiona Hyslop, urging her to rule out the return of peak fares when the pilot ends.

The letter is signed by trade unions Aslef, the RMT, Unite, TSSA and the Scottish Trades Union Congress, as well as environmental groups Stop Climate Chaos, Transform Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland and the Just Transition Partnership.

The have written to the SNP minister: “If you were to restore peak fares, it would be a retrograde step that would send exactly the wrong message at the wrong time.

"We urge you to do the right thing, scrap peak fares permanently to help Scotland meet its climate targets, grow the economy sustainably and help workers by ending this unfair tax on them.”

Jim Baxter, from the Aslef train drivers union, said: “We were delighted when the Government listened to us and introduced a pilot to scrap peak fares. This has helped rail passengers and also helped increase the numbers of people using our trains after the shock the rail industry suffered because of the Covid pandemic.”

Mr Baxter added: “We implore the Scottish Government and do the right thing and scrap peak fares permanently.”

Mike Robinson, chairman of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said: “Our transport system generates more harmful emissions than any other sector, and there has been very little progress to reduce this in recent years.

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"If we are serious about tackling the climate crisis, along with reducing inequality and improving health and wellbeing, it's a no-brainer that using public transport should be cheaper than driving. But over recent decades, public transport fares have risen, while car use has become cheaper in real terms.

“We warmly welcomed the pilot scheme to remove peak train fares, which signalled a positive step towards rebalancing costs in favour of public transport. Reverting to expensive tickets would be a hugely retrograde decision, and be bad news for workers, passengers and the climate."

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The peak fares removal pilot has been extended by three months and will now operate until June 28, 2024. This extension allows for more data to be collected on any change to travel patterns, which will help to inform the final evaluation.

“The Scottish Government will carefully consider the impact of the pilot and the long-term sustainability of such a proposition before committing to any further measures after June 2024. This trial is an exciting and unique opportunity to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and choose a safe, reliable, and green form of public transport.”



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