ScotRail’s half price sale branded ‘farcical’ after scheme cut less than ONE percent of tickets

SCOTRAIL’S half price sale scheme has been branded “farcical” after it reduced the cost of less than one percent of tickets.

The scheme was launched in April 2022 and was rolled out between May 9 and May 15.


The scheme was said to be a response to the rising cost of living and intended to make rail travel more attractiveCredit: Alamy

Customers were able to travel between two stations for a discounted price as long as the outward journey was between May 9 and 31.

All return trips had to be completed by June 30, 2022.

However, it quickly came under fire for its restrictive terms and conditions.

Customers could only purchase tickets online and the discount did not apply to peak-time trains or weekend trains.

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But a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by Scottish Labor has revealed the scheme cut fares for less than one percent of fares.

The FOI says the total number of tickets purchased during the flagship scheme was 1,550,773 but only 13,639 of those tickets were purchased using the half price scheme.

Scottish Labor chief whip Rhoda Grant said: “This farcical scheme lays bare the gulf between SNP spin and reality.

“People desperately needed a lifeline during the cost of living crisis, but this pitiful response is the best the SNP could muster.

“This was a pathetic attempt to chase a headline on the cheap – not a serious attempt to tackle rip-off fares and support our railways.

“This is a damning symbol of the SNP’s lack of ambition for our publicly-owned railways, which have fallen into chaos as a result of the SNP’s relentless incompetence.”

The scheme was hailed by the transport minister as a response to the cost of living crisis.

Transport Minister, Jenny Gilruth MSP, said: “In February, I set out the Scottish Government’s vision for a publicly owned ScotRail as a rail service which is focused on passengers’ needs and interests and provides value for money to the taxpayer.

“This offer is further demonstration of our commitment becoming a reality.

“The Scottish Government understands that people are struggling right now and that the costs of traveling have risen sharply.

“We want to show people that traveling by train might offer an alternative.”

Nicola Sturgeon also praised the new scheme saying: “We want people to return to traveling by rail, but we know that we need to make it more affordable for it to be a truly attractive alternative to using the car.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “As we stated at the time, this promotion was an early measure ScotRail were implementing to reduce the cost of rail travel on a promotional, short-term basis.

“As a result, around 8000 journeys were made that would not have been made otherwise.

“This is one of many such offers that we can expect to see under a publicly owned and operated ScotRail.

“We are committed to ensuring that rail fares are affordable for passengers and taxpayers across Scotland and are progressing our Fair Fares review to ensure a sustainable and integrated approach to public transport fares.”

Customers had to purchase the tickets online in order to use the discount and when buying customers were asked by ScotRail whether they would have traveled if the promotion was not running.

According to ScotRail, 40 percent would have traveled by train, 25 percent would have traveled by car, 20 percent would not have traveled and 15 percent would have traveled by bus.

Phil Campbell, ScotRail’s Head of Customer Operations said: “Our half price seat sale was launched with the objective of encouraging people back to the railway and for them to choose rail over other modes of transport, and that’s exactly what it’s done.

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“To see that 60 percent of customers who took advantage of the offer would have normally made the journey by other means or not have traveled at all is really encouraging.

“Travelling by train has many advantages over other modes of transport, and that’s why we’re now looking at other ways to encourage more people back to Scotland’s Railway and choose rail as the low-carbon alternative for their journeys.”

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