ScotRail fares to increase by less than inflation and held back to at least March

The next ScotRail fares increase will be postponed by two months to at least March and be less than the anticipated 12.3 per cent rise, Transport Scotland has announced.

The Scottish Government agency was unable to say how much the increase would be, but there were reports this week that UK Government officials were looking at a possible 6 per cent to 8 per cent rise for train operators based south of the Border.

Scottish Labour called on Wednesday for ScotRail fares to be halved, and frozen next year.

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The Scottish Liberal Democrats had urged ministers to rule out a RPI-linked rise.

ScotRail fares increased by 3.8 per cent in January in the biggest hike for nearly a decade. Picture: John Devlin
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A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government understands full well the pressures household budgets are under and will do all we can to help.

"Rail fares for next year will be confirmed in due course, but ministers are very clear that they will not rise by an amount equivalent to the July Retail Prices Index rate [of 12.3 per cent].

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"There will be no change to rail fares before March 2023.”

The move came two days after the inflation figure usually used to determine annual increases in some train fares increased to its highest in nearly 40 years.

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July's RPI inflation was 12.3 per cent, up from 11.8 per cent the previous month and the highest since January 1982, Office for National Statistics data showed.

The figure is traditionally used by the Scottish, UK and Welsh governments to set the cap on the following year's increase in regulated train fares, which include most season tickets on commuter routes.

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The UK Department for Transport announced on Monday the 2023 increase in regulated fares for English train firms, including cross-Border operators such as LNER and Avanti West Coast, would be below the inflation measurement.

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It is understood no figure has been agreed, but The Times reported that officials were considering an increase of between 6 per cent and 8 per cent.

Rises in unregulated fares on Britain's railways are set by train operators.

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ScotRail fares increased in January by 3.8 per cent in the biggest hike for nearly a decade, based on RPI rate in July 2021.

By contrast, the UK Government postponed a similar rise among English-based train operators to March.

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Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “People need help to weather the cost-of living crisis and bringing down rail fares has to be part of the solution."

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