Call to get fairer rail pricing on track for Fifers

Fife Council wants a fair deal for rail passengers.
Fife Council wants a fair deal for rail passengers.

Fife Council is continuing to call for a fairer approach to rail pricing.

The council says that following recent meetings with Transport Scotland and Abellio there is an acknowledgement that there are significant price differences for Fife commuters, but, so far, there has been no positive move or proposal from Transport Scotland as to how it will tackle this issue.

Depute Leader Lesley Laird wants Transport Scotland to take a more proactive approach to addressing rail pricing inequality issues, and has called on bosses to establish a working group immediately with key stakeholders, including Fife Council, to begin working towards a fairer rail pricing offering.

Councillor Laird said: “I am extremely disappointed by the response received to date on the inequality of rail pricing in Fife.

“The response from Transport Scotland focuses on recent tender documents and historic rail pricing practice that appears to go back to 2005.

“While there is no doubt that it will be a challenge to fix this issue, it cannot be ignored just because it appears too difficult.

“As Scotland’s national transport authority, we are looking to them to do their job to ensure that there is equity and fairness within the transport system for the whole of Scotland.

“If we are serious about an agenda of fairness and equality this pricing issue must be resolved.”

Cllr Laird pointed out the Fairer Fife Commission, an independent commission that set out a far-reaching vision to eradicate poverty, noted that fairness could be achieved when policy and decisions taken by government at different levels worked together to a shared agenda.

“The shared agenda here is addressing the historic unfairness in the current pricing approach,” she said. “That is why a working group must now be set up to fix this issue.

“It is not acceptable for Transport Scotland to continue with a pricing policy where Fifers pay two to three times the price for the same rail mile journey than other parts of Scotland.

“Just because this is a very challenging issue should not mean that we do not all actively work together to address it.

“A fair and more equal pricing structure is fundamental for a fairer and more equal Fife, and that is why a working group to achieve this must be set up now.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said that setting fares was a commercial matter for the franchisee to manage.

He added: “Scottish Ministers ensure that fares are kept below certain thresholds by regulating the maximum permitted annual increase for selected fares, including Anytime and Season tickets, to the level of the Retail Price Index (RPI) for regulated Peak fares and one per cent below RPI for regulated Off-Peak fares.

“The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring public transport remains affordable for all.

“We will continue to engage with Fife Council to understand its concerns in respect of the price of rail fares.”