WEST FIFE rail commuters face an increase in fares of almost three per cent next year.

ScotRail's regulated peak fares will go up by 2.8 per cent on January 2.

The cap on the annual rise for season tickets and anytime singles and returns is linked to July’s rate of Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation.

Regulated off-peak fares will rise by 1.8 per cent.

That means the price of an annual Dunfermline to Edinburgh fare will increase by £50.39 to £1,850.19.

Since November 2017, the Press ‘Crush Hour’ campaign has been highlighting delays, cancellations and overcrowding on the Fife Circle.

Following the news of the fares increase, Lesley Laird, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, again called on the Scottish Government to lower prices for Fifers – who pay already pay more than passengers from other areas for their trains.

"The rail service in Fife has been anything but great over the last 12 months and Fifers are now going to be asked to pay even more," she said.

“I have campaigned on the long-standing and unjust issue, that Fifers pay two and sometimes three times more for their rail travel, and Transport Secretary Michael Matheson and his predecessors have deliberately chosen to ignore this situation.

“The Scottish Government say they have a strategy of inclusive growth but by continuing to allow a postcode lottery when it comes to rail fares, these are simply warm words and cold comfort for Fifers when this ongoing fare injustice is entirely within Michael Matheson’s gift to fix now.

“If Mr Matheson is truly serious about reducing inequality then Fife rail fares should be reduced.

“The Scottish Government cannot continue to talk about fairness yet all the while pump up Abellio’s profits at Fife commuters’ expense.”

Green MSP Mark Ruskell said Fifers had "run out of patience with ScotRail".

"No matter how many times ScotRail announce price rises and promise investment, the trains to Fife fail to improve," he said.

"Thankfully, short notice cancellations appear to have become less frequent, but Fifers hoping to enjoy the Fringe have been crammed into short trains.

"Fifers have run out of patience with ScotRail. It’s high time we nationalised it so our railway serves the people and encourages more low-carbon travel.”

ScotRail commercial director Lesley Kane said the Scottish Government decided how much passengers pay for fares.

“Eighty-five per cent of our revenue comes from fares set by the Scottish Government, which decides how much our customers pay,” she said.

“The money generated from fares is reinvested back into Scotland’s railway, including £475 million under Abellio in new and upgraded trains and improved punctuality, so that we can give our customers the service they expect and deserve.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said although a fares increase was unwelcome, moves to cut or freeze fares would hit the public purse.

“We are committed to ensuring that rail fares are affordable for passengers and taxpayers across Scotland,” she said.

“We have capped increases where we have influence, making fares 20 per cent cheaper on average than in the rest of Great Britain.

“Two-thirds of the cost of running the railway is already met through Scottish Government subsidy, with the remainder through rail passenger revenues.

“Any change to rail fares could therefore have a significant impact on the taxpayer.”