PEAK rail fares should be permanently scrapped in Scotland, according to the Scottish Greens.

In October, while the Bute House Agreement between the SNP and Scottish Greens was still in force, the Scottish Government introduced a pilot scheme scrapping peak rail fares on all ScotRail services.

However, the pilot is due to come to an end in June with peak fares returning if no further action is taken by ministers.

The Scottish Greens are now calling on the minority SNP government led by John Swinney to make the change permanent.

“The removal of peak rail fares, and the shift to off-peak fares all day, has already supported hundreds of thousands of commuters through the cost of living crisis and encouraged people to get out of cars,” said the party’s transport spokesperson Mark Ruskell.

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“By making the scheme permanent we can ensure that even more people are able to feel its benefits and change their long-standing habits.

“The best changes are ones that help our climate and our communities while supporting household budgets, which is exactly what happens when we cut the cost of transport.

“Every pound that is saved on a commute is money that can instead go towards heating, eating or any of the other expenses that have piled up for households and families all over Scotland as a result of the Tory-inflicted cost-of-living crisis.

“Peak rail fares are an unfair tax on the many workers and students who do not have any choice about when they start work or go to study, that is why the Scottish Greens agreed with Ministers to deliver the pilot scheme.

The National: ScotRail

“During our time in Government, the Scottish Greens strongly supported the move to bring ScotRail back into public ownership. We must now put that to good use and ensure our rail network delivers for people and planet.”

Scotland’s four main railway unions, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) and a host of environmental groups have already called for peak fares to be scrapped permanently.

A spokesperson for Transport Scotland has previously said the Scottish Government will “carefully consider the impact of the pilot” and its long-term sustainability before making any further commitments.

However, following the government’s ditching of its 2030 climate targets, Ruskell said the policy was key to tackling climate change.

“There is no way for us to tackle the climate crisis without drastically reducing the numbers of cars on our roads.

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“One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that public transport and greener travel are affordable and attractive choices for travellers.

“That is why the Scottish Greens secured free bus travel for everyone under 22 and record investment in walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure, and why we built on that with the pilot to scrap peak rail fares.

“Cheaper, greener railways can and must be key to tackling the climate crisis and supporting workers and families.

“With a new First Minister taking office, I hope that this change is made permanent and that it can play a key role on our journey to fairer, greener and better transport for Scotland.”

The pilot was the first of its kind in the UK.