I believe it is important that rail travel remains affordable and accessible, and therefore I am glad that the UK Government has acted to keep rail fare increases below or near to the rate of inflation. The UK Government has also rightly stepped in where necessary when a franchise operator has failed to abide by its contractual duties, making it clear to other operators that poor performance will not be tolerated.
Any increase in rail fares is regrettable, but it is worth noting that record amounts are now being invested to ensure better train services, including a massive upgrade programme that the UK Government has been proud to drive forward. In fact, 97p of every £1 of a passenger’s fare goes back into the railway. Since privatisation, more and more people have been choosing to travel by train, and it is important that our rail network gets the investment it needs to ensure a quality service for this increased number of passengers.
Nonetheless, I have been disappointed by the SNP-led Scottish Government’s handling of Abellio ScotRail, which is a devolved matter. ScotRail’s performance has declined dramatically over recent months, with repeated record low performances – fewer than half of trains are now arriving on time at some of Scotland’s largest stations. It is time for the Scottish Government to put commuters first, and work to stop this crisis at ScotRail.