SCOTRAIL’S train fares should be frozen as part of next week’s Scottish Budget, Labour has insisted.

The party’s Scottish leader Richard Leonard said passengers are being “ripped off whilst the service is worsening”.

It comes as it emerged the cost of a train ticket will rise by an average of 2.8 per cent across Scotland in the New Year – meaning some commuters will be forced to shell out more than £100 extra annually.

Mr Leonard called on the Scottish Government to negotiate with ScotRail to deliver a freeze for hard-pressed passengers.

Speaking to the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists' Association, he said: “It is our duty to make those different choices because people are really struggling.

"That’s why today I’m announcing that we’re calling for a ScotRail fares freeze in January.

“Passengers are being ripped off whilst the service is worsening. Instead of dealing with it, the SNP voted with the Tories to keep the franchise going. It has granted ScotRail a ‘licence to fail’ by moving the goalposts on performance.

“I don’t want to hear their excuses. I’m fed up with it, and people who use our rail services are fed up. The Scottish Government has the power, and [franchise holder] Abellio has the money.

“It is the right thing to do, and they should get on and do it.”

SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay will present his Budget to parliament on Wednesday.

It comes as the latest statistics showed just 87.9% of ScotRail services were on time over the last quarter.

This is the worst punctuality has been for this quarter since 2005/06, while reliability has also plummeted.

ScotRail has also come under fire after confirming it will end free rail travel for children after the festive period.

Last week it emerged millions of commuters will have to pay more for their train tickets from January 2, as prices rise in line with the RPI rate of inflation.

Scottish Labour research indicates a commuter travelling between Glasgow and Edinburgh will now pay £126 extra a year as a result of the hike.

An annual Milngavie to Glasgow fare will go up by almost £27, while someone commuting between Dundee and Edinburgh will be forced to stump up an additional £137.

But the Scottish Government said studies previously suggested freezing fares for a year would cost the taxpayer £58 million.

It said any change to revenue income, even over a short period, would extrapolate out across the remainder of the franchise.

A spokeswoman said: “While any fare increase is unwelcome, calls for a fares freeze underestimate the impact of these on the public purse.

“The average fares increases in Scotland (2.8%) are lower than England and Wales (3.1%).

“In Scotland, two-thirds of the cost of running the railway is already met through Government subsidy, with the remainder through rail passenger revenues.

“Any change to rail fares could therefore have a significant impact on the taxpayer.”