An increase in train fares has been branded a "rip off" by Dumbarton's MSP.

Jackie Baillie, who campaigns vigorously for a better service for passengers using trains to and from the town, has slammed ScotRail's 2.8 per cent increase in average rail fares.

The MSP told the Reporter: “ScotRail is clearly having a laugh at our expense. Increasing fares at a time of the worst performance of the railways in my memory, is nothing more than ripping off commuters.

“What local people want are trains that turn up on time; that are not cancelled; that don’t skip their stop, and where they are not packed in like sardines because there are enough carriages.

"It’s not a lot to ask for and it’s not rocket science. Until that happens there should, at the very least, be a fares freeze.

"Commuters have had enough and deserve a break.”

Peak-time season tickets and anytime day tickets in Scotland are now 3.2 per cent more expensive, while the capped increase of off-peak fares is 2.2 per cent.

A ScotRail spokesperson told the Reporter: “We know that the service our customers have received hasn’t been good enough recently. Everybody at the ScotRail Alliance is working flat out to deliver the improvements our customers expect and deserve.

“Eighty-five per cent of our revenue comes from fares set by the Scottish Government, which decides how much our customers pay.

“The money generated from fares is reinvested back into Scotland’s railway, including through new and upgraded trains, so that we can improve the service our customers receive.

The rise comes after figures from the Office of Rail and Road showed that the number of passenger journeys to and from Dumbarton’s railway stations has fallen dramatically.

As we reported last month, Dumbarton Central has seen a 10 per cent drop and journeys to and from Dumbarton East are down six per cent.

Ms Baillie says passengers have told her they have now found alternative means of travelling.

She said: “It is clear that people in Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven and Helensburgh rely on the train service. This is evidenced by the huge number of passengers using the service.

“However, since the problems with our service started in October, passengers have been telling me that they have found alternative forms of transport as they simply cannot rely on the train service any longer.

“Passengers are voting with their feet and telling ScotRail and the Scottish Government that they won’t pay for a service which they cannot rely on.

The price increase means that a standard day return between Dumbarton and Glasgow has risen to £8, while an off peak day return is £5.40."