Scotrail 2.8% fare hike condemned after winter performance collapse

Written by Tom Freeman on 3 January 2019 in News

Rail commuters face a 3.2 per cent increase in fares this morning as services continue to be disrupted

Older diesel train - CC 2.0

Train operator Scotrail has defended a 2.8 per cent average increase in its fares after severe disruptions to services saw it fail to meet performance targets for several months.

November and December saw services regularly cancelled on many routes amid industrial action by train crew, which in turn led to overcrowding on many trains.

Performance targets on punctuality were also breached.

Scotrail said price rises are below the UK average of 3.1 per cent, and would help pay for “the best railway Scotland has ever had”.

But peak-time commuter fares and season tickets are now 3.2 per cent more expensive, while the increase in off-peak fares is capped at 2.2 per cent. Rail fares remain among the highest per mile in Europe.

Hundreds took to social media this morning to complain about the rise and report further cancellations and delays.

A Transport Scotland spokesman told the BBC a price freeze would have impacted the public purse.

“ScotRail accept that their performance has not been good enough recently, and the issue of a remedial notice demonstrates ministers have made clear the need for robust improvement,” he said.

“Underlying reasons, such as late delivery of rolling stock impacting on staff training and the now resolved industrial action, are already well-documented.

“While some are resolved and staff recruitment is ongoing, it is clear further action is required to address this immediately.

“Many delays are due to infrastructure issues which are the responsibility of Network Rail, which remains the responsibility of the UK government.”

Scottish Labour transport spokesman Colin Smyth said: "Commuters are now being forced to pay more for train services which are plagued by delays, cancellations and overcrowding.

“Thousands of working people may now be priced out from travelling on Scotland's railways alongside their children with the Kids Go Free also now scrapped.

“Across the country this fare rise will cripple commuters, with annual season tickets on some routes now costing well in excess of £4,000.”

A ScotRail spokesman said: “Eighty-five per cent of our revenue comes from fares set by the Scottish government, which decides how much our customers pay.

“We are investing millions of pounds to build the best railway Scotland has ever had.”

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