South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth will this week call on the Scottish Government to intervene to end ‘rip-off rail fares’ facing passengers in Dumfries and Galloway.
The local MSP has tabled a question to be taken in the Scottish Parliament this Thursday (30 November) questioning Transport Minister Humza Yousaf on the issue and wants a review of rail fares in the region, after new research revealed that passengers from Dumfries and Galloway pay more per mile on services on the Nith Valley line than other passengers joining trains on the route in the central belt.
For example, according to research published by Colin Smyth MSP passengers travelling the 50 miles to Glasgow from Kirkconnel station in Upper Nithsdale face paying £13.50 for a single ticket- the equivalent of 27p per mile. However, if they travel just seven miles north to New Cumnock to get the train to Glasgow, the cost falls to £8.40 for a 43 mile trip- just 19p per mile.
Meanwhile, passengers commuting to Edinburgh or Glasgow for work from Lockerbie station are being denied special discount tickets available to commuters at other ScotRail stations in Scotland.
The MSP has raised the issue in the past with ScotRail, who have failed to act on the concerns, so Colin Smyth is now calling on the Scottish Government to intervene.
Colin Smyth MSP said, “At a time where the economy of Dumfries and Galloway is struggling and the transport links to and from our region is in the spotlight these figures will come as no surprise to local people who feel our area has become the forgotten part of Scotland when it comes to decent rail services north.”
“You expect to pay more for a rail fare the further you travel, but what these figures show is the cost per mile is significantly more expensive for rail passengers in Dumfries and Galloway than it is, as soon as you leave the region to get a train north. How can it be fair that it costs 27p per mile to travel to Glasgow from Kirkconnel, but if you travel from New Cumnock just seven miles north it costs 19p per mile? That means passengers are paying 60% more for just a 16% increase in distance. People from upper Nithsdale regularly drive to New Cumnock to save money rather than use their local station in Kirkconnel. What angers me is the fact ScotRail constantly say they won’t provide disabled access at Kirkconnel station because of passenger numbers yet it is their ticket pricing that discourages people from using the station."
“More and more people from Dumfries and Galloway are employed in the central belt due to the lack of opportunities in our area and they commute to Glasgow and Edinburgh every day. However, passengers who commute are banned from using cheaper regular user tickets from Lockerbie railway station for services to the central belt but ScotRail, who own the station, let commuters on 28 other routes in Scotland use these cheaper flexipass tickets”.
“I have raised these issues with ScotRail but they have failed to act and continue to rip off passengers in Dumfries and Galloway. It’s time for the Scottish Government to intervene and make sure that people in this area don’t continue to lose out”
Sample of ScotRail Prices on the Nith Valley line as at Monday 30th October 2017.