ScotRail peak rail fares are set to be scrapped under a new six-month pilot scheme, beginning in April 2023.
The Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced this scheme in his 2023/24 budget statement, saying that £15 million will be spent to remove peak fares on Scotland's railway as “a way of making rail travel more affordable and attractive to travellers.”
This news comes after the train drivers’ union Aslef penned a letter to John Swinny and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon requesting that the fares be removed in a bid to encourage the return of passengers, with fares being labelled as “a tax on workers.”
Whilst helping passengers save money during the ongoing cost-of-living-crisis is one major benefit from this trial, the environmental impacts of mass rail usage will significantly aid in Scotland reaching its net-zero targets.
The Scottish Greens finance spokesperson, Ross Greer MSP, said:
“I am delighted that we have been able to deliver this longstanding green policy, one which will save rail users a huge amount of money during the cost-of-living-crisis, and which will help Scotland meet its climate ambitions.
“This builds on the success of the free bus travel scheme which Greens introduced for everyone under-22 earlier this year. It will play a vital role in ensuring that public transport is an affordable, attractive choice for travellers.
“Removing peak fares will take away the two-tier system which currently punishes those who have no choice over when they need to travel to work or study. It will open up our railways to all and in doing so, make it cheaper and easier to leave the car at home.”
Aslef have since responded to this announcement, with the unions full time organiser in Scotland, Kevin Lindsay, saying:
"This is great, and very welcome, news. It is proof that campaigning works and trade unions matter. This issue only emerged after we presented our Vision for Scotland’s Railways report last year, and it is to the credit of the Scottish government that they listened to the four rail unions and our members and that they have now acted in response.
"However, ending peak fares should not be a temporary measure. Peak fares are a tax on workers and if we are to encourage more people from road travel onto trains to help Scotland meet its climate targets, we need to invest for the long term and make this a permanent policy."
Want to know more about the opportunities to become a key supplier to the UK rail industry? Attend TransCityRail and access an exclusive marketplace of buyers from Network Rail, HS2, Train Operators, Major Contractors, and all other tiers of the supply chain. For more information and to secure your place click here.