RAIL fares in Scotland will increase by 8.7% in April, Transport Scotland has said, with the scrapping of peak rail fares being extended for a further three months.

The Scottish Government pilot, which saw an end to peak rail fares and was initially due to last until the end of April, will now finish in June.

As well as the extension, transport minister Fiona Hyslop also announced the increase in rail fares, which will come into effect in April for ScotRail services and from January 1 on the newly Government-owned Caledonian Sleeper.

The freeze which had previously been put in place in response to the cost-of-living crisis, Ms Hyslop said, was now “unsustainable”.

The decision comes just 24 hours after the Scottish Government announced an £80 million cut to rail funding.

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“The Scottish Government rightly made the decision to freeze flexi-pass and season ticket prices as part of its response to the cost-of-living crisis,” she said.

“While this has now remained in place for almost two years, it is simply no longer sustainable.

“From 1 April 2024, all ScotRail fares will increase by 8.7%.

“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.

“Caledonian Sleeper fares will also increase by 8.7% and this will take effect from 1 January 2024.

“We continue to look at ways to encourage greater rail use and that is why we are extending our peak fares pilot for a further three months until June 2024.

“Fares and fare increases remain, on average, lower than across the rest of Great Britain.

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“ScotRail also continue to develop fares initiatives which can help attract more passengers, while offering savings and added value to existing rail users.

“We are committed to investing in public transport and through this latest budget we will provide more than £2.5 billion to support it.

“This includes over £1.6bn to operate, maintain and improve Scotland’s railway, £430m in funding for concessionary travel and bus services, and £434m to operate and invest in our ferries.”

Scottish Tory transport spokesman Graham Simpson said the rises were “a body blow to passengers”, adding: “It does nothing to help hard-pressed Scots who are reeling from the SNP’s catastrophic Budget cuts.

“It will do nothing but deter people from travelling by train. It is the opposite of what we should be doing.”

Train drivers’ union Aslef said the increase was an “outrageous slap in the face” to Scottish people.