ScotRail half-price fares now available by phone after online-only booking concerns

ScotRail is to allow phone bookings for its half-price fares offer being launched on Monday after campaigners complained the online-only promotion would exclude passengers without internet access.

The train operator has announced a “dedicated hotline” for the discounted fares, but they will not be available at stations.

Off-peak weekday return tickets will be halved in price if booked by Sunday 15 May and return travel completed by 30 June, in an attempt to attract more people back to the railways.

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Passenger numbers fell significantly during the Covid pandemic, forcing the Scottish Government to provide hundreds of millions of pounds of extra funding to keep ScotRail going.

The half-price tickets must be booked by Sunday 15 May and return travel completed by 30 June. Picture: John Devlin

ScotRail said it “recognises that not everyone is able to buy online, which is why we have set up a dedicated hotline on 0344 811 0153 for customers who are unable to book through our website or mobile app”.

But it believed it had complied with equalities legislation in initially offering the discounts online only.

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ScotRail commercial director Lesley Kane said: “We have launched this offer to encourage more people to get out and enjoy Scotland.

"We want their journey to be as hassle free as possible, and have set up a dedicated hotline for customers who are unable to buy online.”

Fares campaigner George Eckton said: “I’m glad ScotRail has made the change from the original digital-only point of sale.

“It appeared restricting the offer to online sales could have potentially discriminated against digitally-excluded groups like older people, who may not use computers or mobile devices.

"In future, I’d be hopeful we can avoid inadvertently creating a two-tier pricing regime which is cheaper for those with digital access.”

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