A probe has been launched by ScotRail bosses amid complaints customers using ticket machines are being misled over prices.
The matter was first brought to light by a frequent traveller to north MSP David Stewart, who described the “glitch” in the ScotRail ticketing system as misleading, believing customers should be displayed the lowest fare possible on the main display screen and not forced to go “digging” to find the correct fare.
Mr Stewart said: “This would appear to be a glitch and it must be catching people out, particularly those who are not used to using computerised touch-screens.
“They may not know the ticket price showing on the machine’s main display screen is not in fact the cheapest ticket available to them.
“The bottom line is passengers should not have to go digging around the ticket machine to get the cheapest fare. It should be staring them in the face. That’s like a corner shop selling cheaper Mars Bars at the back of the store.”
Commuters travelling on the daily 9.17am Nairn to Inverness service have been accidentally paying the larger £9 fee for peak time travel, despite the service running as an off-peak train which should operate at a fee of £6.
Mr Stewart argues that the machine only re-calibrates to show the off-peak price at 9.15am – just two minutes before the train pulls into the platform.
The timing of off-peak services is not set in stone by ScotRail, with cheaper tickets available on services that are deemed to be less busy than traditional rush-hour trains.
Mr Stewart added: “I’m calling for answers from ScotRail and Transport Scotland because this situation flagged up to me in Nairn could be happening across Scotland.
“Passengers are using the ticket machines to save time, but as this situation in Nairn would appear to show, the surest way to save money is to walk into the ticket office and buy your ticket in person.”
A ScotRail spokesman confirmed a probe has been launched by the rail travel operator alongside their ticket vendor and that they are working alongside Transport Scotland to tackle decades-old fare “anomalies” to provide the cheapest fare possible to customers.
He added: “Historic pricing regimes meant customers had to navigate their way through a fares database to find the best deal.
“Working alongside Transport Scotland, we’re committed to tackling fare inconsistencies to ensure customers have easier access to best value rail fares.”
Transport Scotland confirmed they are working alongside ScotRail to “see if it is an anomaly which can be fixed.”