Time for a change

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SOUTHSIDERS are in line for a reduction in rail fares for travel across Scotland thanks to a £2.28 million grant from Transport Scotland.

The money is set to bring an end to a long-standing hiccup in the system which results in a single fare often costing more than two tickets.

Transport minister Keith Brown said: “We have always been clear on our commitment to getting more people on Scotland’s trains, and a major factor in that has been ensuring affordable and easily understood fare structures.

“It became apparent that due to historic pricing regimes agreed by the previous administration in 2004, passengers had to navigate their way through a fares database to find the best deal.

“That’s not what we want. We want a fares system which is quick and easy to use and which provides the cheapest fare possible. And that is what we and ScotRail are now delivering.”

However, some inconsistencies will remain within the Strathclyde area because of different off-peak restrictions, he said.

Steve Montgomery, managing director of ScotRail, said: “This is another example of us putting the customer first , by tackling the fare inconsistencies that are most prevalent in Scotland. Transport Scotland’s welcome support means we have accelerated our efforts in this area, providing easier access to best-value rail fares.”

An anytime return between Aberdeen and Glasgow will now be reduced by £15.70 — a total of 20 per cent — while a single from Edinburgh to Glasgow will fall by 60p to £12.80.

Colin Howden, director of rail campaigners Transform Scotland, said: “It’s nonsense that passengers can travel on the same train, on the same seats, but are sold tickets at different prices.

“It is things like this that make some people distrustful of the railway, so it’s encouraging to see some of the inconsistencies in the system corrected.”

It’s welcome news for local train users, who experienced delays during the Easter weekend as engineers struggled to complete a £35m, two-year-long project to upgrade signalling systems on the southside.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “The work was part of an ongoing programme of major investment across the railway in Scotland. The scheme has replaced aging signalling equipment on the East Kilbride, Barrhead, Netwton, Neilston and Cathcart Circle lines, and improved track and capacity at key locations.

“The work was complex and could not be completed without some impact on train services.”