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Transport Minister rejects call for 30% price cut for ‘scunnered’ Fife rail passengers

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Fife’s politicians have been urged to join forces to help get “scunnered” rail commuters a fair deal.

Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath Labour MP Lesley Laird said all the region’s MPs and MSPs should use their collective representative voice to call for cheaper rail fares to and from the kingdom, as compensation for months of chaos on the Fife circle line.

Mrs Laird was speaking as Transport Minister Michael Matheson rejected her call for him to intervene and cut train prices for Fifers by at least 30%, despite a further raft of cancellations on Tuesday.

More than 1,100 people have signed her online petition demanding reduced fares until services return to normal.

It was launched last month amid fury over continual problems with delayed, overcrowded or cancelled trains which have left many angry commuters late or stranded.

However, in a letter to the MP, Mr Matheson said any reduction in regulated fares would have a significant impact on the taxpayer.

The minister acknowledged the current service offered by ScotRail could be “extremely frustrating”, but added: “It is more appropriate to consider the wider approach to fare setting, rather than changing fares on individual routes in isolation.

“I continue to press the senior team at ScotRail Alliance to ensure all possible options are being actively explored to provide additional capacity for peak time services on the Fife circle at the earliest opportunity.”

Mrs Laird said Fife passengers already pay higher rail fare prices per mile than other regions.

“This letter from the minister is, in effect, saying to Fife commuters suck it up and just carry on paying over the odds for an appalling service,” she said.

“Commuters won’t be fobbed off with promises of improvements at some future point.

“We don’t have absolute assurance when that day will come so my message to Michael Matheson is this: you acknowledge Fife rail passengers are now absolutely scunnered so do something about it.

“Use your discretion and act. It’s in your power to compensate by reducing fares, not ScotRail’s.”


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She added: “I will be writing to all MPs and MSPs in Fife asking them to back my petition, stand up for Fife’s rail commuters and use their collective representative voice to get Fifers a fare cut, now.”

A ScotRail spokesman acknowledged it had been a challenging time for Scotland’s railway but insisted things were improving.

“Everyone at ScotRail is working flat out to provide customers with the service they deserve,” he said.

Last week First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned ScotRail was in the “last chance saloon” and could be stripped of its franchise if it failed to deliver on a remedial notice, the second to be delivered by Holyrood in less than two months.

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