Scottish Transport Minister Michael Matheson has been urged to use his powers to cut rail prices for fed-up commuters packed into carriages “like cattle”.
Kirkcaldy MP Lesley Laird has demanded the minister intervene to reduce fares to and from Fife by at least 30%.
The Labour politician claimed the move was the only thing that would cut it for exasperated tavellers forced to endure frequent overcrowding, delays and cancellations.
She has set up an online petition in which travellers can back her calls for a price cut until services return to normal.
Mrs Laird’s call follows a meeting in Kirkcaldy last week where ScotRail boss Alex Hynes told a packed audience matters were unlikely to improve until the end of this year.
“Mr Hynes repeatedly apologised for the state of Fife’s rail services and admitted they were among the worst in Scotland,” she said.
“However, the air was sucked out of the room when he revealed peak time trains won’t run with six carriages until Hitachi delivers new trains near the end of the year.
“Passengers are being packed like cattle into overcrowded carriages, having to pay late child care fees and in some extreme cases even losing their jobs thanks to delayed or cancelled trains.
“Commuters can’t stomach another year of paying full price for appalling service and I don’t blame them.”
In a letter to Mr Matheson, Mrs Laird said complicated discount schemes were no longer enough.
“As the purse holder and final arbiter in this matter I believe it is your responsibility to address this issue,” she said.
The Scottish Government said it was not considering any further compensation scheme other than those already in place, stating that any fares freeze or reduction would have a “significant impact” on the taxpayer.
A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “Performance has not been where it should be and any agreed remedial plans must bring swift change to reach the levels passengers expect and deserve.
“This includes the particular issues affecting Fife and the Cabinet Secretary expects ScotRail to deliver focused improvements for this region at the earliest feasible opportunity.”
A spokesperson for ScotRail conceded performance had not been good enough but said things were improving.
“We know that some of our customers in Fife have been frustrated by the service they have received from us in recent months,” he said.
“Everyone at the ScotRail Alliance is working flat out to deliver the level of service our customers expect and deserve.”
In addition to ScotRail’s delay repay scheme, season ticket holders affected by train crew shortages on 12 routes, including Fife, can travel free on six weekends between March and May.