Fife commuters slam ScotRail for increasing route fares with no prior warning

Kirkcaldy rail commuters have spoken of their shock after turning up to the station for their daily morning train to Perth - only to discover their fare had shot up in price!

By Debbie Clarke
Friday, 14th February 2020, 9:48 am
Kirkcaldy train commuters Lesley MacGregor and Angie Macinnes.  Pic: Fife Photo Agency.
Kirkcaldy train commuters Lesley MacGregor and Angie Macinnes. Pic: Fife Photo Agency.

A number of town travellers contacted the Press about the hike in fares which only came into effect last month.

The local commuters have been travelling from Kirkcaldy to Perth shortly after 8am and back each day for under £10 for the past six years.

And now they want to know why they are suddenly being charged more - on top of the annual fare increase – in some cases double the price, by ScotRail with no prior warning.

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The cost of a return ticket from Kirkcaldy to Perth has gone up to £17.30 for those travelling by train after 8am.

However, the operator said the 8.11am train from Kirkcaldy to Perth should never have been an off-peak service, that this was a ‘historical error’ which has now been corrected.

Angie Macinnes said: “I travel from Kirkcaldy to Perth four days a week. I book my ticket online because I have a Club 50 card and print the ticket off when I get to the station.

“I pay £7.75 return with my Club 50 card which gives me a slight discount.

“But a few weeks ago on this morning it was coming up £17.30 no matter what I did. I thought it was just a glitch on my phone.

One commuter said there was a poster up at Kirkcaldy Railway Station, which was there when the change in ticket price came in, which clearly stated passengers could travel off-peak from Kirkcaldy to Perth from 08.03am before 9.15am. But she said after this was pointed out to ScotRail, the poster was removed.

“The next morning I had the same problem and when I saw my friend Lesley who also gets the same train she told me that instead of £9 odds, the price had now gone up to £17.30.

“So that night when I got off the train I went to speak to the ticket staff. One of the staff had a look on her system and was surprised to see the fare had gone up and said she hadn’t been notified of the price increase.

“There was no notice given to passengers about this. I also can’t use my Club 50 card anymore because you can’t use it at peak times, so my fare has gone from £7.75 to £17 in one fell swoop.”

Fellow commuter Lesley MacGregor said: “I have been commuting from Kirkcaldy to Perth for the past six years and my ticket has always been around £9.

“But when I went to the ticket office on January 22 I was told it isn’t £9.70 anymore it’s £17.30! I didn’t have enough cash in my purse so I had to use my bank card it was a shock!”

Lesley said there was a poster up at Kirkcaldy Railway station, which was there when the change in ticket price came in, which clearly stated passengers could travel off-peak from Kirkcaldy to Perth from 08.03am before 9.15am.

But she said after this was pointed out to ScotRail, the poster was removed.

She added: “At least with the annual fare increase, you get some notice from ScotRail but no-one was expecting this.”

While another commuter raised the issue of passengers on the same train paying either off peak or peak fares depending on when the train arrives at or departs from their destination.

She said: “If you are on the 8.30am train from Edinburgh to Perth you are allowed the B7 code (for off-peak travel) but when that same train reaches Kirkcaldy, passengers are charged a peak fare as the starting time for off peak is 9.15am.

“As the train departs Markinch after 9.15am, the off peak fare then kicks in!

“So it works out as a total of 90p difference on the same train for the return fare Edin/Perth and Kdy/Perth. It is just crazy.”

Another commuter David Swann added: “Since the turn of the year the B7 off peak ticket on the Markinch to Perth train (which I would catch at 8.20am) was removed by ScotRail and replaced with a peak day return before 9.15am.

“At £17 it is almost double the cost of the off peak and I don’t feel this represents a reasonable ticket price.

“In this era when we are encouraged to take public transport as the greener option, this move has put people off, the cost of petrol for a return journey in the car from Markinch is far cheaper now.”

ScotRail said the peak time restrictions on train fares from Ladybank, Markinch and Kirkcaldy did not align and this was a historical error.

The company said this has now been corrected and that the change only impacts on two peak morning services, the 08.11 and the 09.10.

ScotRail said peak/off-peak is determined from where passengers board the train and at what time, so there will be hundreds of trains every day which may be peak when they start the journey and then change to off-peak somewhere along the route. The train operator said this is not uncommon.

A ScotRail spokesperson added: “Historic pricing remiges mean that there are, on occasions, fare anomalies and discrepancies.

“Working alongside Transport Scotland, we’re committed to tackling these inconsistencies to ensure customers have easier access to value rail fares.”