The Scottish Government has announced it will extend a scheme scrapping peak fares for a further three months - but ticket prices will rise by close to 10%.

From October 2 of this year peak fares - more expensive tickets at busier times - have been removed, along with the cheaper 'super off-peak' tickets.

Instead commuters have paid the off-peak fare no matter what time of day they travel, a scheme which will now be extended by three months until June 2024.

However, after two years of prices being frozen the cost of tickets will be increased by 8.7% from April, a hike which Scottish Labour called "eye-watering".

It means a return from Glasgow Central to Edinburgh will increase from £14.90 to £16.20, with tickets on the Caledonian Sleeper also set to rise by 8.7%.

Fiona Hyslop, Minister for Transport said: “The Scottish Government rightly made the decision to freeze flexi-pass and season ticket prices as part of its response to the cost-of-living crisis. While this has now remained in place for almost two years, it is simply no longer sustainable.

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“From 1 April 2024, all ScotRail fares will increase by 8.7%. We know that any increase is unwelcome for passengers, therefore we have kept the rise as low as possible to maintain the attractiveness and affordability of rail as a travel option.

“Caledonian Sleeper fares will also increase by 8.7% and this will take effect from 1 January 2024.

“We continue to look at ways to encourage greater rail use and that is why we are extending our peak fares pilot for a further three months until June 2024.

“Fares and fares increases remain, on average, lower than across the rest of Great Britain. ScotRail also continues to develop fares initiatives that can help attract more passengers, while offering savings and added value to existing rail users.

The Herald: Scotrail

“We are committed to investing in public transport and through this latest budget we will provide more than £2.5 billion to support it. This includes over £1.6 billion to operate, maintain and improve Scotland’s railway, £430 million in funding for concessionary travel and bus services, and £434 million to operate and invest in our ferries.” 

Scottish Labour Transport spokesperson Alex Rowley said: “This eye-watering fare hike will hit Scots hard during a cost of living crisis and push Scotland’s rail service into a spiral of decline.

“The SNP-Green government is robbing money directly from the pockets of the thousands of workers who rely on trains to get to work.  

“Public ownership was an opportunity to transform Scotland’s railway and deliver the affordable, reliable service passengers deserve – but under the SNP we have the same old overpriced chaos.

“We need affordable fares to help people through this cost of living crisis and encourage more people to use our trains.”

Jane Ann Liston, secretary of Railfuture Scotland said: "There were high hopes amongst passengers that things would improve and that there would be greater accountability to the public when the Scottish Government took over ScotRail and the Caledonian Sleeper services.

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"While any fare increase is unpleasant, passengers might be more forgiving were the Government able to show the benefits of public ownership over the next year.

"For instance, while the extension of the peak fare removal until June is welcome, and shows that ScotRail is reacting to changing travel patterns, it would be good were more of the services withdrawn upon nationalisation to be restored.

"Similarly, it would be welcome were ScotRail less focused upon achieving a neat and tidy 'clockface' timetable and more upon ensuring that trains run at the times passengers require.

"There have been reports, for instance, that the changes to bring about a 'clockface' pattern has resulted in railway passengers on retimed so-called connecting services missing ferry sailings as a result.

"The eyes of the public will be fixed upon ScotRail and its owners. Should services show a visible sign of improvement, passengers may consider that the fare increase will have been worth it."

Scottish Tory transport spokesman Graham Simpson said the rises were "a body blow to passengers", adding: "It does nothing to help hard-pressed Scots who are reeling from the SNP's catastrophic budget cuts.

"It will do nothing but deter people from travelling by train. It is the opposite of what we should be doing."

Train drivers' union Aslef said the increase was an "outrageous slap in the face" to Scottish people.