ScotRail’s alcohol ban was kept in place by officials despite the train operator preferring more relaxed rules, which would have seen day-time drinking allowed on board.

In July, ScotRail announced a ban on drinking or visibly carrying alcohol would continue for the ‘foreseeable future’, extending rules introduced as part of Covid in 2020.

But emails revealed the decision was taken against a ScotRail board recommendation, which preferred a return to pre-pandemic rules.

This would have seen a ban on the consumption of alcohol between 9pm and 10am every day, rather than a blanket and indefinite ban.

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The decision has also cost ScotRail around £200,000 due to the inability to sell alcohol.

Hospitality on ScotRail services is already loss-making, losing around £1.5m a year, rising to £1.7m due to the alcohol ban.

ScotRail’s preference was to include rules for ‘dry routes’ where anti-social behaviour was a problem and ensure ‘dry trains’ around major events such as football matches.

This had been agreed at a board meeting on June 16.

In emails disclosed to The Scotsman, Chris Gibb, chief executive of Scottish Rail Holdings, which owns ScotRail on behalf of the Scottish Government, said: “The board accepted a recommendation to revise the alcohol ban to 9pm-10am, seven days a week, plus around pre-planned events and specific routes when anti-social behaviour and crime levels warrant this.”

Emails sent in May also state the preference from ScotRail was to revert to the pre-pandemic ban.

But following a meeting with transport minister Jenny Gilruth on June 22, the plans changed to a full and indefinite ban.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “As a publicly owned and controlled railway, it is important that ScotRail plays its part in delivering Scottish Government ambitions for its success.

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“As part of this, ScotRail drafted options for reviewing the ban on alcohol and these were considered at a meeting with the Minister in June.

“Following robust scrutiny against wider Scottish Government priorities and policy implications, it was agreed between all parties that further work on these proposals would be required including wider consultation on the implications.

“Given the diversity of views on the sale and consumption of alcohol on ScotRail services, consideration of its re-introduction will form part of the National Conversation on Rail.

“This will enable a wide range of views to be taken into account before any final decision is made.

“In the meantime, everyone needs to be mindful that, while many of the pandemic restrictions have been lifted, Covid hasn’t gone away and the Scottish Government’s advisory guidance remains in place”.