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BOSSES at profiteering rail operator ScotRail have been condemned as the industry’s Scrooge after announcing that free travel for children will be abolished after Christmas.
The company’s current Kids Go Free policy allows an adult to be accompanied by two children travelling at no cost on its trains.
But from New Year, children will be charged £1 a journey. It means an adult who travels once a week with two children will be more than £100 a year worse off.
At the same time ScotRail will introduce its rip-off fares increases.
The decision was attacked by Scottish Labour, rail union RMT and train drivers’ union Aslef today.
Scottish Labour’s transport spokesman Colin Smyth MSP said: “With Christmas less than a few weeks away it is sad to see bosses at ScotRail acting like Scrooge by taking free rail travel away from children across Scotland.
“The Kids Go Free scheme is a fantastic initiative which encourages families to use public transport and not be out of pocket for doing so.
“This rip-off fare rise will see passengers handing out even more money to a private company which is failing them time and time again.
“I hope ScotRail see sense and give our children the gift of free rail travel for another year this Christmas.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “ScotRail seem to be on an all-out mission this Christmas to put the squeeze on their staff and passengers alike.
“Whether it’s depriving the workforce of fair rest-day-working payments or depriving kids of free travel, there are no depths to which ScotRail won’t sink.
“It’s about time they were stripped of the franchise, with the whole lot taken over by the public sector.”
ScotRail is owned by trans-European transport firm Abellio, which has operations in Britain, the Czech Republic, Germany and the Netherlands.
Aslef Scottish organiser Kevin Lindsay said: “It’s clear Abellio yet again are failing Scottish rail passengers. But not content with a 3 per cent increase in fares, they are now acting miserably towards Scotland’s hardworking families with this Scrooge-like behaviour.”
Rail union TSSA leader Manuel Cortes said: “Abellio ScotRail bosses have excelled themselves this year. They have achieved the worst ever results for service since records began, they have the highest ever passenger dissatisfaction rate and our members are fed up of mad management reorganisation decisions which means they are more overstretched than ever before. But this decision to slap fares on kids earns them my Scrooge of the year award.
“One of the last decent things you could say about ScotRail was their policy to let kids go free. What a great way to treat our children — and their hard-pressed parents. But subsidising Scottish children’s fares is not a priority for Abellio.
“They are in Scotland to make profits out of passengers so their parent company, the Dutch government-owned Nederlandse Spoorwegen, has the dosh to subsidise rail fares in Holland. And now they are putting the squeeze on our kids.
“Passengers are already facing a 2.8 per cent fare rise in the New Year. Now hard-working parents are going to be hit even harder.
“Clearly privateer operator Abellio just sees Scottish passengers as the gift that keeps on giving. This #scotfail madness has to stop. That’s why TSSA launched a people’s petition today calling on the Scottish government to boot Abellio out of the Scottish rail business. Letting them turn their miserly Scroogeness on our kids is something no-one should tolerate.
“TSSA has today launched a petition to bring ScotRail back into the public ownership of the Scottish people, demanding money made in rail in Scotland can be reinvested in Scotland. I urge the Scottish public to take up this call.”
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