Train passengers have had their ticket prices slashed this week as ScotRail launches its off-peak all day trial. 

Expected to cost around £15 million, the pilot has seen fares reduced by almost half price as peak time prices are scrapped for six months.

It is a first of its kind experiment in the UK, designed to encourage people to get back on the train at a time when passenger numbers still dwindle at 70 per cent of what they were before the pandemic. 

The average cost of a peak time ticket between Edinburgh and Glasgow has been reduced from £28.90 to £14.90, ScotRail says.

While Glasgow to Stirling has been cut from £16.10 to £9.60 and the journey between Inverness and Elgin has fallen from £22 to £14.40. 

Read more: Peak ScotRail fares scrapped for six months

The cost of my own commute from Edinburgh to Glasgow has been reduced, and I've noticed the trains are busier than usual — and rail station car parks are filling up. 

So I visited Glasgow's Queen Street station to speak to passengers about their thoughts on the trial and experiences using rail services in Scotland

Josie and Jacob

The Herald:

Josie Tipper, from Edinburgh, said the prices of peak time fares prevented her being able to work in the office. 

She said: "I used to live in Glasgow before and I was trying to commute through for work but ended up not because the cost would be too high. 

“So if it had happened maybe five years ago that would have been ideal."

She think it's a positive step but points out public transport models like in Germany, where €39 a month gets you unlimited travel on all public transport throughout the country.

Read more: Two rushed to hospital after trains collide at Scottish railway station

“Especially seeing as Scotland has a target for Net Zero by 2045, I don’t see any other way that you can encourage people more than by having greener travel."

But, she adds: “We don’t have a car so we don’t really have a choice.”        

Josie's partner Jacob said: "It can be a little bit frustrating with the peak times sometimes. 

“My mum told me about the trial. I think it’s maybe not going to affect me too much, because we don’t tend to travel in peak times. 

"It’s good for the people who are commuting.”


The Herald:

Willow Murphy called the pilot a "brilliant" idea but said rail services between Edinburgh and Glasgow are still too pricey for young people.

"It's expensive. Very, very expensive," said the 18-year-old from Glasgow, "They cancel quite a lot as well.

"When we were trying to get through to Edinburgh the other day, trains got cancelled because of floods on the track, I ended up getting stuck in the middle of nowhere."

The student, who benefits from the under-22s free bus travel scheme, says she avoids the train as much as possible in favour of bus transport or car.  


The Herald:

I also spoke to David Walls, from Paisely, who said: "If you’re going on longer journeys say, getting to Edinburgh it is very expensive.

"It’s a bit of a pain as well. Considering in the grand scheme of things it’s not that far, for it to be that expensive. It’s mental."

Following a freeze which had been in place since January 2022, ScotRail ticket prices increased by 4.8 per cent in July this year. 

"They’re just really not that reliable,” the 18-year-old added.

David and Sarah

The Herald:

"I think it's a good idea to pilot these things," said David Cochrane, from St Andrews, "To get more people on the train. "

But the 67-year-old, who had just arrived in Glasgow with his wife Sarah, does not think ticket prices are expensive.

He said: “I think they’re not bad, especially when you have a two for one rail card, you get pretty good deals. 

“It’s been a very frustrating few years with all the strikes. But that was a very nice train we just got off. Right on time, we couldn’t fault it.”

Read more: ScotRail crackdown on people who try and avoid paying correct fare

When the off-peak all day trial launched on Monday (October 2), ScotRail said every available carriage was in use. 

This will be the case throughout the six months of the trial, the rail operator said. 

I't's too early to speculate on the pilot's impact on passenger numbers, a ScotRail spokesperson told me, as it likely to take a few weeks for passengers settle into new travel patterns. 

Alex Hynes, Scotland’s railway managing director, said: “We want to encourage more people across the country to choose rail travel instead of using the car.

“Everyone at ScotRail is working hard to make sure that this six-month trial will be a success, and we will be monitoring our services and stations daily to see where we have any significant increases in customer journeys."

Mr Hynes said some services may be busier than normal, and advised customers to plan their journey using the ScotRail website, app, or social media channels.

He said: “We know that cost and simplicity are critical factors for people when they choose how to travel, and we are looking forward to delivering this fantastic fare reduction for our customers.”

ScotRail off-peak trial example price cuts on routes around Scotland

  • Edinburgh – Glasgow (£28.90 to £14.90)
  • Inverkeithing – Edinburgh (£11.10 to £6.50) 
  • Perth – Dundee (£14.40 to £9.90)
  • Glasgow – Stirling (£16.10 to £9.60) 
  • Inverurie – Aberdeen (£11.10 to £8.90) 
  • Inverness – Elgin (£22.00 to £14.40)