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ScotRail sale sees off-peak fares halved as it tries to entice back passengers

ScotRail is cutting fares to encourage more people back onto the railways (Jane Barlow/PA)
ScotRail is cutting fares to encourage more people back onto the railways (Jane Barlow/PA)

Prices of all weekday off-peak train journeys in Scotland will be cut in half as the state-owned railway tries to get people back on the tracks.

ScotRail customers can book their discounted tickets between May 9 and 15, with outward travel valid between May 9 and 31, and journeys must be between stations in Scotland to qualify.

The offer will see an off-peak return between Edinburgh and Glasgow cost £9.55 and those wanting to ditch the car and get the train between Inverness and Aberdeen can do it for £23.85 return.

The deal will only be available to purchase online via a dedicated booking link to be published on the ScotRail website and all return travel must be complete by June 30.

Lesley Kane, ScotRail’s commercial director, said the pandemic had “fundamentally changed the way people travel”.

“We are launching this fantastic offer because Scotland’s railway is yours to use,” she said.

“We hope this offer means more people can get out and enjoy Scotland throughout the month of May, whether for a day-out or a holiday.”

Chris Gibb, chief executive of Scottish Rail Holdings, said: “Passengers up and down the country have been impacted by the pandemic, not least in the cost-of-living crisis we are currently facing.

“We want people to come back to rail but know that we need to make it affordable to be a truly attractive alternative to using the car.”

Mr Gibb added: “This fares offer, backed by the Scottish Government, is one of several initiatives ScotRail have been working on for delivery in the coming months to encourage people back on to our trains.

“By opening up this offer to all weekday off-peak travel across Scotland, passengers across the length and breadth of the country will be able to benefit from savings on the cost of public transport.”

As part of the deal, ScotRail’s Kids for a Quid can be used in conjunction with the offer, which means up to four children can travel, for £1 return each, with each adult.

The Scottish Greens have welcomed the ticket sale and the party’s transport spokesman Mark Ruskell said he was “pleased that there’s now a focus on making rail travel more affordable”.

ScotRail train stock
ScotRail is to slash some of its fares in half next month (Jane Barlow/PA)

“It’s vital that we explore every avenue to support people as the Tory cost-of-living crisis bites and I’m sure this rail fare reduction will be positively received by the public,” he said.

Since 2012, Scottish peak and off-peak regulated fares have increased by 38%, research by the RMT union found in January, while the price of petrol had increased by less than 10%.

Kevin Lindsay, the Scottish organiser for Aslef, said his union welcomed the initiative but that it was “tacit recognition from ScotRail that affordability is a huge barrier for the potential rail passengers who are currently being priced off trains due to high and unaffordable fares”.

He said: “This should not be a temporary initiative. People in this country are going through a cost-of-living crisis with most people seeing wages stagnate or reduce in real terms, energy bills and the cost of living soar.

“Reducing fares should not just be for the month of May. Only a permanent reduction in fares will get people back on trains.”

And Jill Reilly, the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ transport spokeswoman, said the sale was “far from the long-term solution that we need to encourage people to rely on rail travel”.

“Now that ScotRail is in public hands there can be no excuse for late trains and poor service,” she said.

The promotion, which ScotRail said was originally set to take place in January but was postponed due to soaring Omicron cases, comes just days after UK Government Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the Great British Rail Sale.

In the sale, tickets are being slashed by as much as half, with seats on some London to Edinburgh services cut from £44 to £22.

The Department for Transport is hoping the Great British Rail Sale will help hard-pressed households, facing rising bills and soaring inflation, to afford trips across the UK and boost domestic tourism.