ScotRail paid delayed passengers more than £1 million in compensation in 2018/19 – a staggering 72.8% increase on the previous year.
The hot weather last summer and the impact of September’s Storm Ali were blamed for some of the delays by Transport Secretary Michael Matheson.
But the huge sums have been paid out as ScotRail faces almost daily criticism for over-crowded carriages, skipping stations, delays and cancelled services.
The rise also comes despite research published last week criticising ScotRail for its complicated and lengthy compensation claims processes, saying it was among the worst in the country.
Consumer watchdog Which? described the system as “fragmented and confusing” pointing out passengers had to produce 24 pieces of information before a complaint was considered.
It suggested many people entitled to compensation gave up before successfully submitting a claim. Critics say thousands may be in that position.
The newly published Scottish Government figures reveal the rail operator paid out £1,119,818 in 2018/19 compared with £647,670 in 2017/18.
The figures were provided by Mr Matheson in an answer to a Holyrood question tabled by North East Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles.
Mr Rumbles said: “It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that, after the worst performance record for over a decade, ScotRail was forced to pay out over £1 million in compensation last year.
“That is a huge increase on previous years.
“It is nonetheless clear that the system is set up to deter people from claiming the money they are owed.
“I have no doubt that there will be thousands of passengers who have been left out-of-pocket but didn’t bother to claim after having their service delayed or cancelled.
“After years of trying to blame others for the problems in ScotRail, the first minister has finally admitted that the service is not good enough.”
He added: “The priority should be to remove the franchise from Abellio at the first opportunity and to find an operator that can deliver services on time and without cramming passengers onto overcrowded trains.”
In his answer, Mr Matheson said some increased payments were due to speed restrictions caused by a hot summer.
The Transport Secretary added that “Storm Ali” had also had an effect on the service.
A ScotRail spokesman said its Delay Repay Guarantee ensured customers were compensated when journeys were delayed by 30 minutes or more.
The spokesman added: “We know how much of an inconvenience it is to customers when things don’t go to plan and it is only right that they are compensated when that happens.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said calls to rip up the ScotRail contract were “short-sighted”, given the cost and disruption it would cause.