PEAK rail fares are to be scrapped under a six-month pilot scheme, the Scottish Government has announced.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced that £15 million will be spent to remove peak fares on Scotland's railway for an initial period of six months, as the Scottish Government seeks to get more people using public transport.

Last week train drivers’ union Aslef wrote to John Swinney and the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to request peak fares be removed.

They described peak fares as “a tax on workers” and said that reforming the fare system would help Scotland reach its net-zero targets, as well as assist people during the cost of living crisis.

However, the union’s other request – that rail travel be made free for under-24s and over-60s – was not included in this year’s Budget.

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The Scottish Greens finance spokesperson, Ross Greer MSP, said the end of peak fares would encourage more people onto public transport.

“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,” he said.

“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.

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He added: “Getting more commuters to travel by bus or train fast tracks the kind of transformational action that will benefit people not only now, but also future generations for whom this becomes the norm.

“No peak fares, free bus travel for people under-22, and record new investment for walking, wheeling and cycling are just some of the reasons why this is the Greenest budget in Scotland’s history.”

The budget announcement also set aside £1.4 billion to maintain and decarbonise rail infrastructure, as well £200m for investment in active and sustainable travel.

A further £60m will also be invested in charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Kevin Lindsay, Aslef’s full-time organiser in Scotland, said:

"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."