FoFNL is looking forward to taking part in the Fair Fares Review later this year. The need for a radical improvement in the fares system, and its clarity to potential passengers is evident from this letter published in the Press & Journal on 18 May:
Sir, - I recently travelled by train from Glasgow to Tain. The cost of doing this was an unwelcome surprise. £72 each way is absurd when £72 is around the cost of a weekly grocery shop. I estimate that the journey could be done in a small car for considerably less [e.g. return trip c.400 miles @ 43mpg @ £1.46/l = £62 - Ed.]. In a country so reliant on tourism and supposedly promoting rail travel it is absurd that such exorbitant fares are charged.
Feelings of resentment do not subside upon arrival at Inverness Railway Station. The terminus of the spectacular Highland Main Line is dilapidated and unappealing.
A hungry traveller is confronted with a small selection of exorbitantly overpriced offerings. A dismal array of sandwiches, mostly containing meat, are proffered by the station's newsagents at the ambitious price of £5.49 each.
If the railway company is serious about attracting and retaining customers then they should urgently consider whether the services and facilities they provide represent good value for the traveller's money.
Dr Charlie Lynch, Belfast.
Clearly Dr Lynch didn't spot the return option, so one wonders whether ScotRail has tested its website design on people unfamiliar with the system. Fares have increased since May, so if travelling today he could have bought a return for £82.60 instead of two singles at £75.50 each. If he knew about split-ticketing he could have reduced the price to £72.80 return by purchasing returns from Glasgow to Inverness and Inverness to Tain. If we had a fixed cost-per-mile system none of this would happen.
Meanwhile it's hard to disagree with Dr Lynch's comments about Inverness Station - eventually it will be replaced as part of the major redevelopments being planned, but that is years away. It would be good too if businesses such as WH Smith were able to keep their prices down for the fairly captive passengers' market, although clearly this is outwith the control of Scotland's Railway.