WEST FIFE commuters are facing a price hike as they return to work after the New Year.

ScotRail’s regulated peak fares went up yesterday (Thursday) by 2.8 per cent while off-peak fares rose by 1.8 per cent.

The increases will mean an annual season ticket between Dunfermline and Edinburgh will go up by £52 from £1,800 to £1,852. A monthly ticket is now £177.80, up from £172.80.

For people going between Inverkeithing and Edinburgh, the yearly sum is now £1,628 compared to the previous price of £1,584 and the monthly figure rises from £156.30 from £152.10. A weekly ticket has gone up by £1.10 from £39.60 to £40.70.

The rises have been slammed by the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association general secretary Manuel Cortes, who said: “Millions of Scottish commuters are being dealt a slap in the face by inflation-busting fare rises while their own wages stagnate. It’s sadly just what we’ve come to expect from this Tory government, and the SNP who lack the courage to truly do anything different.

“Transport Secretary Michael Matheson took the right first step when he called time on Abellio’s ScotRail franchise. But refranchising in 2022 isn’t the answer. Only public ownership of the railways can address the sky-high prices and poor services endured by passengers.”

When the increases were announced earlier this year, 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 told the Press in August that 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.”

The Press’ Crush Hour campaign has been calling for an improvement to West Fife train services for the last two years.

In December, the Scottish Government cut short the contract for running Scotland’s railways. The 10-year franchise with Dutch-owned firm Abellio ScotRail will now end three years early in March 2022 instead of 2025.