9 December 2018

Richard Leonard has called for the Scottish budget next week to deliver a fares freeze for hard-pressed passengers across Scotland.

The Scottish Labour leader is calling on the Scottish government to negotiate with ScotRail to deliver a freeze on fares in the New Year.

It is expected that season ticket prices will increase by 3.2 per cent next year, which will increase the cost of an annual ticket from Glasgow to Edinburgh by £126, and off-peak regulated fares will increase by 2.2 per cent – however, these are just maximum increases and ScotRail could choose to increase fares at a lower rate or freeze them entirely.

The terms of the government’s franchise agreement – hailed by the SNP as a world-leading deal – allows for an alteration in fares:

Changes to Fares regulation

The parties agree that the Authority shall have the power at any time and on more than one occasion during the Franchise Term to alter the obligations of, and restrictions on, the Franchisee under Schedules 5.2 (Franchisee's Obligation to Create Fares) to 5.6 (Fares Information and Monitoring) (inclusive) for any Fare Year, or part thereof (including alteration of the value of “k” in paragraph 2.2 of Schedule 5.3 (Regulation of Individual Fares) or to introduce further regulation of Fares for which the Franchisee is the Lead Operator. The exercise by the Authority of its powers under this paragraph 2 shall be a Change.

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The SNP government has already granted ScotRail a ‘licence to fail’ by moving the goalposts on performance targets, allowing them to fall below the breach level set out in the franchise without any consequences.

Michael Matheson has delivered this ‘temporary waiver’ on performance until June 2019.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“It is our duty to make those different choices because people are really struggling. That’s why today I’m announcing that we’re calling for a ScotRail fares freeze in January.

“Passengers are being ripped off whilst the service is worsening. Instead of dealing with it, the SNP voted with the Tories to keep the franchise going. It has granted ScotRail a ‘licence to fail’ by moving the goalposts on performance.

“I don’t want to hear their excuses. I’m fed up with it, and people who use our rail services are fed up. The Scottish government has the power, and Abellio has the money.

“It is the right thing to do, and they should get on and do it.”

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