SCOTRAIL has been panned for suggesting that the price of a new flexible return ticket between Glasgow and Edinburgh is a benefit for travellers.

The rail operator, currently run by Dutch firm Abellio, announced that a peak ticket on the central belt route will cost £30, with an off-peak ticket costing £18.40.

ScotRail is set to be taken over by a public sector body at the end of March 2022 as the Abellio contract is to be ended early amid criticism over cancellations of services and performance levels.

Scotland's Transport Secretary said in March that there have been periods where Abellio had "under-performed", which has resulted in the need for direct action as the firm's performance did live up the Government's aspirations.

READ MORE: Unions hit out at ScotRail over plan to axe hundreds of services

ScotRail tweeted: "You asked for it so we've delivered it. You can now book return journeys between Glasgow and Edinburgh with the return ticket valid for up to one month.

"Travel any time of day for £30, or with off-peak travel it's just £18.40."

The operator was widely panned for the announcement of the £30 flexible ticket price on a route that many people may need to use to commute to work everyday.

Scottish lawyer Aamer Anwar said: "You clearly didn’t listen @ScotRail if you think that a £30 return between Glasgow & Edinburgh, at peak time is affordable for most working people #Nationalise"

One Chris Daniels added that these prices are "forcing people to use their cars" due to the high ticket price.

He tweeted: "£30 is an absolute joke. My office is in Glasgow and there’s absolutely no chance I would be able to commute every day by train. Prices like these are literally forcing people to use their cars."

Others said that the large price is not helpful if Scotland is to reduce fossil fuel emissions from cars.

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Alex Paterson tweeted: "Train travel (using electric trains) is key to our reduction in fossil fuel emissions, but it needs to become more reliable, faster, and cheaper (as it is in Europe) for people to ditch the car and take the train.

"Charging £30 return for a 45-minute train journey isn't it."

Many people said that they could get return flights to Europe for cheaper than the journey between the Scottish cities.

Adam Dalgleish said that a 4 hour journey between the Czech Republic capital of Prague and Austrian capital of Vienna cost him just £14 for a journey of around 180 miles.

Twitter user @ko_oneill added that he travelled 2400km around Europe in 2018 "for about £200". 

In reply to customer Josh complaining that the price was too expensive compared to its competitors, ScotRail replied: "But then you wouldn't be travelling on an iconic Class 385 electric train Josh!"

In the replies to this tweet, user Neil Riddell wondered whether ScotRail's Twitter had become a "parody account".

The ScotRail account replied: "No, but the Social Media team get to have a sense of humor [sic]."

Riddell then added: "That's all good - maybe doesn't come across all that well when people are quite rightly complaining about outlandishly high fares for an hour-long rail journey."

A ScotRail spokesperson said: “As well as offering savings, our new Open Return fares between Glasgow and Edinburgh provide customers with the freedom of being able to make their return journey any time within a month, without having to buy another ticket.

“We’re confident that these fares will help bring former customers back, and attract new ones, as we continue our work to ensure that Scotland’s Railway is fit for the future.”