THE Scottish Transport Minister has been told to reduce rail prices for fed-up Fife passengers by at least 30 per cent. 

The call has come from Lesley Laird MP, who has urged Michael Matheson to use his power and intervene to help struggling commuters. 

The letter to the minister comes after ScotRail boss Alex Hynes told a packed audience in Kirkcaldy Town House recently that they may have to wait until the end of the year before seeing more carriages on peak-time trains.

Ms Laird, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said: “Mr Hynes repeatedly apologised for the state of Fife’s rail services and admitted they were among the worst in Scotland.

“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 childcare 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.”

For months ScotRail – run by Abellio – has been promising significant improvements to the Fife Circle line, with the Press highlighting the problems on a weekly basis through our Crush Hour campaign since November 2017. 

Commuters have been calling for a price reduction as the only fair deal to having to put up with a poor service. 

In her letter to Mr Matheson, Ms Laird wrote: “At the public meeting, Alex Hynes was left in no doubt this is what Fife commuters expect.

“Complicated discount schemes are not going to cut it. Complicated claim-back schemes are not going to cut it. The only thing that is going to cut it for Fifers is a fare cut. 

“As the purse-holder and final arbiter in this matter I believe it is your responsibility to address this issue. 

“Given the truly appalling service on Fife lines, this is the only option as Fife commuters continue to bear the brunt of poor ScotRail service through 2019.”

Earlier this week, ScotRail announced that punctuality on the railways had improved for the fourth consecutive period, to 89.9 per cent. 

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.

“ScotRail fares, on average, are around 20 per cent lower than across the UK as a whole. 

“Two-thirds of the railway running costs are already met through Scottish Government subsidy, with the remainder through passenger revenues. Any fares freeze or reduction, even on a regional basis, would have a significant impact on the taxpayer.

“In addition to Delay Repay, ScotRail has already made an offer of free leisure travel available to the most affected parts of the network; therefore, we are not currently considering any further compensatory scheme.”

Lesley Laird has also set up a petition – the link can be found at