SCOTRAIL has been warned “passengers don’t need flash sales” in response to its announcement fares will be cut next month.

The now state-owned rail franchise announced on Wednesday off-peak ticket prices would be halved if bought after May 9 and if the return journey takes place before June 30 – but bosses have been told the move will do “next to nothing” to boost rail travel.

The public ownership advocacy group We Own It slammed the plans and called for ScotRail, under public ownership since April 1, and called for fares to be permanently reduced.

The National:

Cat Hobbs, the organisation’s director, told The National: “Half price tickets for a single month will do next to nothing to encourage rail travel, especially when this discount will not even cover peak tickets. 

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"While discounted tickets are always welcome, passengers don't need flash sales for one month a year - we need affordable fares all the time and for every service. Peak prices have skyrocketed by over 38% in the last decade, making rail travel unaffordable for so many. 

"It's time for ScotRail to put an end to this and break with the past and ensure that people can actually afford to travel by train consistently.”

While the Scottish Government has recognised the short-term nature of the officer, officials hope it will see passenger numbers return to their pre-pandemic levels.

Ministers have committed to a ticket price review to tackle rising prices which will come into focus as the cost of living crisis begins to bite.

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Hobbs added: “ScotRail's recent move into public ownership provides a huge opportunity for the Scottish government to make rail travel affordable again by utilising the profits that were previously lining the pockets of shareholders to cut fare prices, it's vital that they grab this opportunity with both hands and build an affordable, accessible, reliable and properly staffed rail network for Scotland.” 

Jenny Gilruth, Transport Minister, said yesterday the flash sale would see “commuters making huge savings across Scotland’s network” and “take the pressure off families during the Tory made cost of living crisis”.

She added: “As the SNP Scottish Government takes over Scotrail one mission is to encourage more people to use our railways to get to work, travel and see family and friends.”

Chris Gibb, the CEO of Scottish Rail Holdings, said: “The Scottish Government appreciates this is a short term offer – that’s one of the reasons why it has committed to a fair fares review, which will consider public transport across differing modes and which will also look at affordability.

“Public ownership of ScotRail means delivering a service which listens and responds to passenger need – we will continue to work together to develop further initiatives with longer term benefits that make rail a better choice as we work towards our ambitious Net Zero targets.”