ScotRail is planning to axe the direct Kirkcaldy to Perth service under its ‘post-Covid’ timetable shake-up.
From May next year there will be fewer trains on the tracks as the cash-strapped franchise aims to provide a sustainable network.
The shake-up will see the direct service between Kirkcaldy and Perth scrapped.
You can currently board a train in Kirkcaldy and be in Perth 44 minutes later.
But under the new timetable, if you wanted to get to Perth by 9am you would have to leave Kirkcaldy at 7.45am.
You would have to get off at either Ladybank or Markinch and wait half an hour for a connecting train.
Fears have already been raised about the impact of the new timetable on Perth as a destination for tourists.
Why consult on changes now?
ScotRail has launched a consultation on the timetable changes.
And questions have been asked about the timing.
Fifer Ingried Boussaroque travels by train from Aberdour to her work at the Quebec Government Office in London.
She says commuters are being asked about their travel needs at a time when they are still unsure of their future working patterns.
People ‘won’t let go of their cars’
Like many others, she is still working from home.
“I think it’s a weird moment to have this consultation because we’re just coming out of covid.
“People have not had to travel and they don’t know yet how we’re going to get out of the pandemic.
“And when we do, they don’t know how often they will have to work or how often they will have to travel.
“I know I would like more services, but I don’t know how my life will be in six months.”
Ms Boussaroque, 44, said if a rail service is cut “it might be very hard to get it back”.
She added: “They need to offer people another option to travel. To say ‘you won’t need your car’.
“It’s the egg and the chicken. There’s no service if people don’t use it.
“I think it’s going to mean people won’t let go of their cars.”
Government pays £5 for each Fife passenger
Even before the pandemic, all but one of ScotRail’s services was running at a loss.
To keep services going, the Scottish Government has to subsidise some by as much as £25 per passenger – which is the case for the Inverness to Wick route.
Fife Circle services are subsidised by about £5 per passenger, and services between the Central Belt and Dundee and Arbroath by around £11.
The only service making a profit before the pandemic hit was Edinburgh to Glasgow via Falkirk High.
ScotRail was only able to keep operating during the pandemic thanks to £400 million in emergency funding from the government.
The franchise says passenger numbers are now just half of what they were before Covid.
A ScotRail spokesperson said: “The pandemic has changed how people travel across all of Scotland and our services need to reflect that, as well as providing the taxpayer with best value for money.
“Our May 2022 timetable proposals are a new starting point for us to build on as we continue to recover from the pandemic and build a greener, more sustainable railway for the future.”