SCRAPPING peak fares on ScotRail services is aimed at boosting passenger numbers by 10 per cent, according to the firm’s managing director.

And Fiona Hyslop, the Transport Minister, said a rise in the number of people using the railways should also drive down the number of cars being used by commuters.

The two were speaking to journalists at an event marking a six-month trial of the scrapping of peak-time rail fares.

The scheme, which is backed by £15 million of government funding, will see the price of peak-time train journeys almost halved in some cases. For example, a peak-time return trip from Glasgow to Edinburgh will cost £14.90, rather than £28.90.

Some fares will go up as “super off-peak” prices have also been scrapped. Hyslop said these rises would only impact around 2.7% of journeys.

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The scheme will run until March 29, 2024, at which point a Government review will decide whether it has delivered value for money and is worth continuing.

Hyslop said: “We'll then look across [the past six months] and say, actually, is that the best intervention we can be taking to encourage more people into public transport rather than using their cars.”

She added: “We'll have metrics on what car use is looking like during this trial period, and also all the kind of research you'd be expecting to happen as part of a major trial like this to ascertain that more people are using rail more often, and if they're using rail for the first time because of deciding to commute by rail rather than by car.”

Asked what success would look like for the pilot, Alex Hynes, the managing director of ScotRail, said that peak-time passenger numbers were at 73% of pre-pandemic levels.

He said the aim of the pilot was to push those figures up by 10 percentage points.

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Hynes said: “Success looks like more customers on the rail network, happier customers, and also to deliver the trial within the funding that has been made available by the Scottish government.”

Hynes stressed that the trial would not be cut short “no matter what happens”, but that its future after March 2024 relied on the data.

“We'll be monitoring the impact of giving customers cheaper, simpler fares, all day in the coming days, weeks, months and then towards the end of the trial, we'll be producing an evaluation report for the Scottish government, and then the Scottish government can decide what they want to do with fares,” he said.