WHY is it that today (September 12) the first-class rail fare by LNER Stonehaven-Edinburgh cost £19.30, whereas the return Abellio ScotRail second-class fare cost £21.05?

I eschew Abellio ScotRail trains at every turn, but circumstances for once demanded that I return north on the 1630 Abellio service from Edinburgh rather than the usual 1832 hours LNER.

Thus for a more expensive fare, I travelled second class in a suburban diesel never designed for long-distance travel, in seats that are cramped, in a train boasting noisy underfloor engines, and a company that unlike LNER doesn’t serve refreshments, food and wine at seat.

Successive ScotRail franchisees have developed art forms of making sure that we long-distance passengers pay over the odds for travel in inferior trains. The labyrinthine Abellio ScotRail fares system “guarantees” cheaper seats, but – surprise, surprise – they never actually ever appear.

It’s high time Transport Minister Michael Matheson turned his attention from road-building to examining the day-to-day actuality of life on our increasingly wretched railways.

Gordon Casely,

Westerton Cottage, Crathes.