Backing call for freeze on rail fares

Iain Gray MSP is backing a call for the Scottish government to freeze rail ticket costs into 2021 after the UK government announced this week that prices would rise beyond inflation for the first time since 2013 – a decision that will impact on Scottish rail services.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton Harris confirmed that a rise of 2.6 per cent would come into effect from 1 March 2021 – two months later than the usual fare rise date of January.

In Scotland, the RPI (Retail Prices Index) announced in August 2020 that peak regulated rail fares would increase in price by 1.6 per cent in January 2021, bringing the overall increase in peak regulated rail fares to 15 per cent – 56 per cent since the SNP came to power in 2007.

ScotRail has been in receipt of the Emergency Measures Agreement, a government support scheme that has been extended until 10 January 2021. ScotRail’s passenger numbers remain 70 per cent down due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

However, the UK price rise announcement has prompted this demand for the Scottish Government to take action now and freeze rail fares for the services they are responsible for.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Rail costs have spiralled by 56 per cent since the SNP came to power and another rip off fare hike will hit people hard at a time many families are already struggling.

“The Scottish Government should commit now freezing fares for the foreseeable future while the country gets back on its feet.

“Inflation-busting price hikes only serve to punish passengers and will do little to encourage people back onto using public transport when we begin to move out of the pandemic.

“It’s clear the UK and Scottish rail franchise system is broken. We need to bring our railways back under public ownership to ensure that these rip off rail fares end and that our railways provide better value for passengers and the taxpayer.”