The majority of ScotRail passengers want an end to the ban on alcohol, according to the firm’s own survey. 

A poll of commuters carried out last December was obtained by The Herald through Freedom of Information.

It revealed that 56% of passengers want to see an end to the prohibition, with just 29% in favour of keeping it. Another 15% responded "maybe/don't know".

READ MORE: Public are 50/50 on ending Scotrail booze ban, claims operator

The figures are at seemingly odds with previous comments from ScotRail bosses. 

Appearing before Holyrood's Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee last month, Alex Hynes, who leaves his post as managing director of Scotland's Railway this week, told MSPs there was “no clear winner in terms of public opinion".

"The alcohol ban divides opinion," he said. "Everyone has a view on it. Some people would love to be able to drink on trains and some people are vehemently against drinking on trains. 

ScotRail’s Chief Operating Officer Joanne Maguire agreed. She said there was “roughly around a 50/50 split on views of alcohol".

Strict rules forbidding drinking were brought in just under four years ago at the start of the pandemic in a bid to keep travellers socially distant. 

Previously, passengers could drink after 10am and before 9pm and were able to buy beer, wine and spirits on most trains. 

ScotRail launched a consultation at the end of last year, with customers who logged on to the free wifi being asked for a yes or no answer to the question: "Would you be supportive of ScotRail removing the permanent alcohol ban on trains and in stations?"

A second question asked: "If the current total alcohol ban remained in place, would this impact on your decision to travel with ScotRail for leisure journeys in the future?"

Some 28% said it would make them less inclined to travel, while 21% said they would be more likely to travel.

Another 51% said it would not affect them either way. 

READ MORE: Can you drink on ScotRail trains? No, and let's keep it that way

Other correspondence released to The Herald shows that as well as public support, others involved with the national train company back an end to the ban. 

An email from Scott Prentice, Director of Strategic Planning at ScotRail, to someone at Transport Scotland, said that the “uncertainty and inconsistent enforcement of the ban is now the most widely raised topic at staff safety briefs.”

He added: “Trade Unions, Staff, [British Transport Police] and Transport Focus [the independent watchdog representing the interests of Britain's rail passengers] all support a return to the previous policy” embraced by the firm.

The correspondence also mentions a YouGov poll, but there is no other detail and ScotRail declined to comment.

The Herald: Alcohol is currently banned at stations in Scotland and on trains

Ultimately, the decision to keep or remove the ban lies with the Scottish Government. 

Scottish Conservatives shadow transport minister Graham Simpson said Transport Secretary Fiona Hyslop should “revisit the issue".

He said: “This ban was introduced during the Covid era and, with it having thankfully passed, I think it’s time to revert back to the pre-pandemic rules on alcohol consumption on trains.

“The survey shows a clear majority in favour of ending the booze ban. It was introduced for good reason during the Covid pandemic.  “That has now passed so Fiona Hyslop should revisit the issue. It doesn’t have to mean a free for all as exemptions would be in place.

 “This view is supported not only by the majority of ScotRail passengers but by many in the rail industry.”

READ MORE: Peak rail fares on ScotRail must go permanently say unions

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “It is clear a wide range of opinions are held by passengers, staff and other interested parties about alcohol on trains. 

“Ministers will take time to carefully consider diverging views, in line with the broad range of recommendations made in our recent report on women and girls safety on public transport, before making any decision.

“Until then, the alcohol ban will remain in place.”