AN increase in average train fares in Scotland – though proportionally lower than the rise in England – has been criticised amid falling performance levels.

The 2.8% rise north of the Border, which was introduced yesterday, compares to a 3.1% jump in England.

However, The Scottish Labour Party, which wants rail servies to be re-nationalised, criticised the move.

Their 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 £4000.”

Scottish Greens transport spokesman John Finnie said: “It’s wrong to ask rail passengers to pay a significantly increased fare for a poor service as too often we suffer delayed, cancelled and overcrowded trains.

“Rail commuters will continue to be treated as an afterthought while the Scottish Government’s transport spending remains focused on new roads.”

The increases across the UK are set by the Rail Delivery Group in consultation with the various devolved governments and Westminster.

A ScotRail spokesman said: “85% 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.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “While any fare increase is unwelcome, calls for a fares freeze underestimate the impact of these on the public purse. The average fares increases in Scotland at 2.8% are lower than England and Wales which is 3.1%.

“Two-thirds of the cost of running the railway is already met through Scottish Government subsidy, with the remainder through rail passenger revenues. Any change to rail fares could therefore have a significant impact on the taxpayer.”

ScotRail, which is owned by Dutch firm Abellio, breached Scottish Government-set performance targets with cancellations throughout November and December.

In turn, the Government is demanding that the activities of Network Rail, which was blamed for many infrastructural failures, be devolved.

The Transport Scotland spokesman added: “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.

“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. Devolution of Network Rail’s activities to Scotland would allow us to take further action to improve services.”

Meanwhile, a train service from Glasgow Central to Manchester Airport was the most overcrowded in the UK during 2018, according to a Labour study. It found that the 4.22am service carried twice the number of passengers it was designed for.