Scotrail, who runs 95% of all train services in Scotland, will increase all regulated fares within Scotland by 6% next year, while cross-border trips and journeys within England and Wales will increase by 8%.
Scotrail justifies the increases based on the current 5% Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation rate according to the latest figures just released but the company will add an extra 1% in Scotland and 3% in England.
UK Transport Minister Philip Hammond said the increase would help fund major infrastructure projects such as : the high-speed Crossrail network between London and south-east England and a high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham (possibly being extended to northern England and Scotland).
The commercial director for the Association of Train Operating Companies, David Mapp, said fare increases would pay for “more trains, better stations and faster services”.
However, David Sidebottom, director of rail customer watchdog Passenger Focus, warned some customers could be left even further out of pocket through flex fares. The “flex” mechanism lets rail companies add a further 5% onto their fares in some parts of the UK which will cost some passengers an extra 13% for the same journey next year. Under the flex system operators can apply the extra charge on certain routes.
However, Scotrail “has never applied” the flex mechanism and has no plans to do so this time.
To some, these increases ring worrying bells for even further fare increases in the future since the cost of public transport is itself capable of adding coals to inflationary fires in an economy.