Rail fares cost some Scots 20% of average wage, according to research

The Scottish Government has been accused of presiding over a "great train robbery" after analysis revealed some commuters in Scotland spend a fifth of average wages on rail fares.

Scottish Labour's research shows someone on the typical gross salary in Scotland travelling 47 miles from Edinburgh to Glasgow Central would have to pay about £380 per month for a season ticket.

In comparison, a worker commuting 30 miles from Etampes to Paris would spend 2% of France's average monthly pay on tickets, at £66.

Labour's Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Colin Smyth said: "SNP Ministers are presiding over a great train robbery - passengers are having their pockets picked in comparison to commuters on the continent.

"Passengers are paying a fortune, often for delayed and overcrowded trains and when their train isn't cancelled they can't be even be guaranteed to stop at the stations they are supposed to.

"This strengthens Labour's case to bring the railways back into public ownership.

"While SNP Ministers are acting as cheerleaders for the privatised rail system, Labour is making the case to nationalise our railways including ScotRail at the earliest opportunity and deliver a public transport service that works for the many not the few."

About 85% of revenue for the rail operator comes from fares set by the Scottish Government, which decides how much its customers pay, ScotRail said.

In Scotland, it is possible for the public sector to bid for the franchise, a move brought in by the SNP.

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf has been considering ways the franchise could be brought back into public hands (Jane Barlow/PA)
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf has been considering ways the franchise could be brought back into public hands (Jane Barlow/PA)

A spokesman for Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said the suitability of existing public sector bodies to bid for such a contract is being considered.

The Scottish Government is also said to be looking at what steps would be necessary to create a new body to do so, if needed.

He added: "Scotland has the lowest rail fares increase in the UK, with the average regulated increase below the rate of inflation.

"Our consistent view is that there ought to be a level playing field between the private and public sector in bidding for rail franchises.

"This will enable us to ensure the delivery of rail services in Scotland that deliver maximum economic and social benefit."

  • Edinburgh to Glasgow Central, 47 miles, £379.80
  • Balloch to Airdrie, 31 miles, £190.50
  • Gent to Brussels, 31 miles, £143.73
  • Civita Castellana to Rome, 27 miles, £64.81
  • Eberswalde to Berlin, 28 miles, £118.15

Scottish Labour said its research included the routes of ScotRail's top 10 busiest trains from March 2017, while the costs are for standard travel monthly season tickets.

A ScotRail spokesman said: "We are investing millions of pounds in Scotland's railway to better connect our communities and support the economy.

"Money from fares is reinvested to improve services, customer experience, and track and signals, as we continue to build the best railway Scotland has ever had."

The average monthly earning for a person in Scotland is £1,929.17, according to official statistics.

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