UNIONS have hit out at the Scottish Government’s “reckless” decision to increase ScotRail ticket prices.

Train drivers’ union Aslef shared an email from ScotRail’s head of retail confirming fares will rise by 4.8% next month, excluding season and flexi tickets.

The change will come into effect on July 3.

ScotRail came into public ownership in April last year.

Aslef Scotland organiser Kevin Lindsay said: “The Scottish Government’s decision to increase ScotRail ticket prices is a reckless one that threatens the progress of getting Scotland’s railways back on track.

“To increase ticket prices during a cost-of-living crisis risks forcing more passengers off of trains rather than getting them on board with rail travel.

“This is being done in the face of all the evidence which shows we need to shift more transport from road to rail in response to the climate emergency.

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“The new transport minister’s immediate task must be to halt these fare hikes and urgently deliver the fare freeze the First Minister committed to months ago.”

The email from ScotRail head of retail Claire Dickie acknowledges that fare increases will be disappointing for some customers but said the revenue is essential to allow it to run a service which is safe, reliable, green and reduces the burden on taxpayers.

It states: “Since January 2022, rail fares on ScotRail services have been frozen, which was an important measure to attract passengers back to the railway after the pandemic and provide support during the cost-of-living crisis.

“That was the correct decision at the time but it did have a serious impact on ScotRail’s financial sustainability, given a significant amount of our income comes from passenger revenue.

“Today the Scottish Government – which decides the level at which ticket prices should be set – has confirmed that ScotRail fares will be increasing by 4.8%.

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“This excludes season and flexi tickets, which remain frozen at current prices, ensuring that those who use rail frequently are encouraged to continue.”

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) union, which represents members in the management, clerical, supervisor, station and engineering grades within ScotRail, also criticised the decision to increase fares.

TSSA organiser for ScotRail Gary Kelly said: “This announcement is bad news for anyone hoping to ditch the car this summer. Increasing rail fares is only going to put people off travelling by train in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.

“The SNP like to talk the talk about net-zero targets but they can’t walk the walk. We need a fares freeze for everyone if we want to get serious about greening the economy and a public railway run in the public interest.

“The first act of the incoming Transport Secretary, Mairi McAllan, should be to scrap this increase immediately.”

McAllan said: “The Scottish Government rightly made the decision to freeze fares as part of its response to the cost-of-living crisis. While this has now remained in place for around 18 months, it is simply no longer sustainable.

“From July 3 2023, ScotRail fares will increase by 4.8%, compared to 5.9% fares rise across the rest of Great Britain, current RPI of 8.7% and the August 2022 RPI rate of 12.3%.”

She added: “This below-inflation increase means fares remain, on average, lower than across the rest of Great Britain.

“We know that any increase is unwelcome for passengers, therefore we have kept the rise as low as possible to maintain the attractiveness and affordability of rail as a travel option.”