A Fife MSP is calling for peak rail fares to be suspended indefinitely, describing them as "a tax on workers".

Under a pilot scheme, peak fares on ScotRail services are suspended until June 28, meaning anyone travelling by train pays the 'off-peak' fare, no matter what time of day they are travelling.

Alex Rowley, Mid Scotland and Fife MSP and Scottish Labour transport spokesperson, said the Scottish Government’s decision to suspend peak fares was “absolutely correct” and is pushing for a decision to “continue that policy indefinitely”.

But he's concerned the initiative is set to end this summer, highlighting recent advertising of the scheme which he says appears to stress the end date, encouraging rail users to get the benefit of the pilot before it is too late.

Mr Rowley said: “I have been very clear that I absolutely welcome the Scottish Government’s decision to pilot suspending peak fares and believe we need bold decisions like this if we are to encourage more people to use public transport for their daily commutes.

Dunfermline Press: Alex Rowley has described peak fares as a tax on workers and wants to see their suspension continue after the end of the current pilot scheme in June.Alex Rowley has described peak fares as a tax on workers and wants to see their suspension continue after the end of the current pilot scheme in June. (Image: Contributed)

“It has been well received by workers that I have spoken to who have welcomed it during a time of particular financial hardship.

“We should be doing everything we can to make rail travel as accessible and affordable as possible if we are serious about reducing car kilometres and getting more people using public transport, which is why I believe peak fares should remain suspended indefinitely.

“I have offered to work with the Cabinet Secretary for Transport to ensure this pilot is a success so that this can be introduced on a permanent basis and encourage all parties in the Scottish Parliament to do the same.”

Responding the questions by Mr Rowley at Holyrood, Transport Secretary Fiona Hyslop said an interim evaluation was being carried out and a final evaluation would be undertaken at the end of the pilot, enabling the Scottish Government to carefully consider its impact and long-term sustainability.

She agreed with Mr Rowley that "we have to look at the context of the peak fare removal within the wider issue of how we support more people to travel by public transport".

Ms Hylsop added: "Alex Rowley is also correct in identifying what the pilot means for people during a cost of living crisis.

"Those who travel the line from Cowdenbeath to Edinburgh three times a week, from October at the start of the pilot to June at its end, will have saved £680; those who travel five times a week will have saved £1,134.

"There have been savings for many workers in Cowdenbeath, in Fife and across Scotland.

"Yes, the evaluation has to measure value for money, but it must also measure whether we can get a modal shift so that people consistently use our railway system."