Addressing the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said the £3 million initiative would go ahead this summer, as a thank you to passengers for their patience during a significant period of upgrading and improvements to key rail services.
Monthly and annual season ticket holders will benefit from a free week of travel. The ScotRail Alliance will be announcing details on how to claim the free week shortly. In addition to the offer of a free week, there will also be extra incentives for season ticket holders who switch to smart ticketing. Further detail on how this process will work will be announced soon, however, the benefits will be:
Annual season ticket holders on Smartcard - free week for them or a friend/family member, plus two off-peak return trips anywhere in Scotland.
Monthly and above season ticket holders on Smartcard - free week added to next season ticket purchase, plus one off-peak return trip anywhere in Scotland.
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Weekly season ticket holders on Smartcard are also set to benefit with a complimentary one day return ticket anywhere in Scotland.
A further offer for leisure passengers is in the pipeline for later in the year.
Mr Yousaf said: “I am delighted to confirm further details of this initiative which aims to recognise that some passengers have had to endure higher levels of disruption, partly as a result of record investment in improving our railways, but also because the service hasn’t been to the standards that I expect.
“Because service improvements and investment also impact on those across the country who do not use season tickets, ScotRail is also introducing a series of additional promotions and fare offers throughout 2017 to ensure they also benefit from this investment.
“As I told Parliament last Wednesday, I am confirming that this initiative will be fully funded by the Scottish Government and ScotRail, as had always been intended from the outset. The SQUIRE regime is all about improving the passenger experience and using a proportion of these funds to benefit ScotRail passengers clearly falls within this remit. The remaining £1.2 million will come from Transport Scotland.
“As I highlighted to Parliament last week, the past few months have been challenging as the ScotRail Alliance takes forward an ambitious programme on the live network to deliver newer, longer, greener trains on our flagship routes between Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as further afield. Performance is now starting to improve and thanks to the Improvement Plan we are seeing some positive trends, as evidenced by the most recent figures, which compare favourably to the rest of the UK, however, I appreciate there is still some way to go before services are at an acceptable level.”
Cathy Craig, Commercial Director of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “We are pleased to be contributing £1.8 million of Squire funds for this significant benefit for passengers. This is a sincere token of our appreciation for their patience and understanding as we progress one of the biggest infrastructure improvements for Scotland’s Railway since Victorian times. New faster, longer, greener trains will be here in September bringing extra seats and a much improved travelling experience.
“We have ambitious plans to roll out our Smartcard offering and these additional incentives mean now is an ideal time to make the switch. We are now putting the finishing touches to the process that will enable our customers to claim their free rail travel quickly and easily. More details will be on our website shortly.”