TRANSPORT Minister Michael Matheson has been urged to do the “right thing” after rejecting a call to reduce fares on the Fife Circle.

Despite more than 1,000 angry passengers signing a petition to cut prices by at least 30 per cent, he said that any reduction in regulated fares would have a significant impact on the taxpayer.

Although Mr Matheson did acknowledge that the current service provision by ScotRail could be “extremely” frustrating” for passengers, he ruled out any changes.

The petition was launched by Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Lesley Laird last month following months of delays, cancellations and overcrowding for Fife commuters – highlighted by the Press since November 2017 in our Crush Hour campaign.

ScotRail boss Alex Hynes has previously said that services will not be fixed fully until the end of 2019 and the petition called for a reduction in price until performance improves.

In a letter to the MP, Mr Matheson said: “Any change to rail fares can have a significant impact on the wider network (in terms of both affordability and the creation of fares anomalies) and so it is more appropriate to consider the wider approach to fare setting, rather than changing fares on individual routes in isolation.

“With regard to ScotRail’s performance, I agree it has not been where it should be, including issues affecting Fife, and I expect ScotRail to deliver focused improvements for this region at the earliest feasible opportunity.

“I continue to press the senior team at ScotRail Alliance to ensure all possible options are being actively explored to provide additional capacity for peak time services.”

However, Ms Laird pointed out that Fife passengers already pay higher rail fares per mile than other regions.

She said: “It’s time Michael Matheson stopped recycling the same old tired arguments and just did the right thing.

“The minister already knows Fife passengers pay higher rail fare prices per mile than other regions so, if you follow his argument, we have been subsidising other taxpayers and other routes for years.

“This letter from the minister is, in effect, saying to Fife commuters suck it up – and just carry on paying over the odds for appalling service.

“So my message to Michael Matheson is this: you acknowledge Fife rail passengers are now absolutely scunnered, so do something about it. Use your discretion and act. It’s in your power to compensate by reducing fares, not ScotRail’s.”

Ms Laird added: “I’ll be writing to Mr Matheson and Alex Hynes, director of ScotRail, to request a joint meeting to understand what the remedial plan is for Fife. “I will also be writing to all MPs and MSPs in Fife asking them to back my petition, stand up for Fifes commuters, and use their collective representative voice to get Fifers a fare cut, now.

“Over 1,000 people have signed it so far and I would urge others to join them. We need to stand together, make our voices heard and get a fair deal for Fife.”

Visit to sign the petition.