ScotRail has admitted services won’t begin to improve in Fife until 2019, when new rolling stock is expected to cascade through the network.
That’s gutting news for hard-pressed commuters in Fife to hear, but it’s still not the full picture.
Despite my repeated calls over recent years to Humza Yousaf to tackle fares, Fifers are still paying well over the odds for reliable rail travel, let alone the grind of a daily commute on overcrowded, late trains; don’t forget, that’s not only compared to European countries but also two to three times more per rail mile than other regions in Scotland.
If the political will was there, this discrimination against Fifers could finally be put right, but instead – after admitting its performance over the winter months was woeful – ScotRail decide the appropriate response is to offer off-peak passengers here in the Kingdom a peace-token £5 fare for a period of two months.
This reeks of contempt for passengers and, if they didn’t see it before, I’m sure the public see Abellio now for what it is: an operator which is determined to put profits before passengers.
In response to my letter, the Director of Rail, Bill Reeve said the National Transport Strategy would not engage in a specific review of rail pricing, but proposals for changes in rail fare policy would ‘need to be affordable across Scotland’ both for payers and taxpayers.
But how can a national service continue to justify a pricing structure which is anything but national? How can it continue to prop up a policy of postcode lottery fares which have hit hard-working Fifers for years?
It’s increasingly clear that the only solution to protecting passengers is to switch rail services to public, not private ownership.
How long must Fifers continue to subsidise the rest of Scotland? Let’s stand up for Fife and sign my ‘Fair Rail Deal for Fife’ petition at www.gopetition.com/petitions/fair-rail-deal-for-fife.html