ScotRail fares slashed to end ticket confusion

RAIL fares are to be cut by up to 40 per cent for more than a quarter of a million journeys a year in Scotland after ministers announced the end of a system that means it is cheaper for some journeys to buy two separate tickets than one fare.

There are more than 1,500 “split ticketing” inconsistencies under existing arrangements in Scotland, with passengers forced to buy two tickets or more for the same journey, rather than a straightforward return, to get a cheaper deal.

But the current pricing structure will be scrapped next month, following a multi-million-pound grant from government agency Transport Scotland.

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The shake-up, which takes effect from 19 May, will ensure fares for an entire journey will be at least 50p cheaper than buying one ticket to travel part of the way to a destination, and a second to complete the trip.

Rail campaigners said existing arrangements meant some travellers were forced to break their journey between Dundee and Glasgow at Gleneagles to get cheaper tickets.

A total of 275,000 ScotRail journeys will be affected every year by the cut – around 0.3 per cent of the 81 million journeys taken in Scotland last year.

Transport minister Keith Brown pledged that the £2.28 million funding package from the Scottish Government would see fares cut by as much as 41 per cent on certain routes.

Under the new arrangements, a single ticket from Dundee to Glasgow will come down from £26.30 to £20.70 – a cut of more than 20 per cent. A single from Dundee to Edinburgh will be reduced by £23.60 to £16.80 – a saving of about 30 per cent. And there will be a 41 per cent cut from £27.90 to £16.60 for a single from Dundee to Portlethen.

Returns will also see reductions – for example, the cost of an open return fare from the Scottish capital to Inverness would change from £63.60 to £57, about 10 per cent.

Mr Brown said the new scheme would deliver an “affordable and easily understood fare structures”.

He said: “We want a fares system which is quick and easy to use and which provides the cheapest fare possible. And that is what we and ScotRail are now delivering.”

Bruce Williamson, of passenger group Railfuture, said: “We have a spectacularly complex rail structure and it’s right that we end these anomalies where people have got to jump through ridiculous hoops.

“However, we’d like to see fares reduced across the board and for this scheme to be rolled out to the rest of the UK.”

Conservative transport spokesman Alex Johnstone said the fares shake-up was a “common sense approach”, and claimed he had been affected by ticketing anomalies himself.

He said: “When I tried to buy a ticket from Dundee to Stonehaven I was told it would be cheaper to get one from Leuchars to Aberdeen.”

Steve Montgomery, managing director of ScotRail, said: “This is another example of us putting the customer first.”