The Scottish Deputy Prime Minister, John Swinney, plans to offer the residents of Scotland a boost against the rising cost of living by prolonging the suspension of peak rail fares. Typically, these fares are about double the price of off-peak tickets and were successfully eradicated in October last year according to the Bute House Agreement with the Green Party.

Disappointment arose when the Greens were ousted from the Government by Humza Yousaf, generating concerns that costly peak time fares were going to make a comeback in July.

Trade union representatives issued warnings that the termination of this trial could hit the working class doubly hard, following an almost 9% boost in standard fares in April. If the increase was applied to reinstated peak fares, a same-day return ticket from the Scottish city of Glasgow to the capital, Edinburgh, could surge to approximately £31.40, a significant leap from its current price of £16.20.

The media is set to announce the extension of this trial for an additional three months, thanks to the interventions of the new First Minister.

This morning, it is anticipated that he will disclose his plan to the public from Edinburgh’s central station, Waverley. One government spokesperson has revealed, “The First Minister has taken on board the overwhelmingly positive response the peak fares removal trial has received so far.”

By extending the trial until September, it will enable more of the country’s residents to avail of this innovative policy, potentially saving them hundreds of pounds on their commuting expenses – a critical benefit in these times of economic difficulties.”

The new First Minister has made promises to combat the escalating costs of living and views extending this trial as a key component of his strategy.

John Swinney
John Swinney
(Image: PA)

The First Minister acknowledged the powerful benefits of suspending peak fares at the time but did not commit to a permanent change. “I must be aware that everything needs to be funded. The peak rail fares pilot has been an incredibly successful initiative. However, we must consider the required resources to continue to support this on a permanent basis.”

An initial assessment of the scheme noting the first three months is expected to be published in the near future. Additional data that will include the first nine months of the trial will be released later.

Supporters of the trial have been rallying recently to push for its extension. Green MSP, Mark Ruskell, stated that making the scheme permanent could ensure that even more people reap the benefits and modify their travel habits accordingly.

“Fixing the cost of transport is one of the best ways to help our environment and our communities, as well as lighten the load on households. This is why the Scottish Greens agreed with the ministers to launch the pilot scheme.”

Fellow campaigners advocating for climate action and trade unions have also recently co-signed a letter requesting permanent removal of peak fares. They cited the peak fares as an unjust tax on workers, stating that such costs make train travel prohibitively expensive and stand as a barrier to many would-be commuters. The campaigners insist on permanently abolishing peak fares in a bid to make rail transport more economical and thereby accessible to all, boosting the wider economy and alleviating poverty.