The latest rise in rail fares – the steepest in five years - means a peak-time ticket between Scotland’s two biggest cities is almost £25.

Peak-time tickets between other major cities in Scotland now cost as much as £55.

With the cost of taking the car and paying for parking much cheaper, it’s little wonder that transport trade unions are predicting many commuters will switch from rail to road.

When it’s a week until pay day and you’re well into your overdraft, £5 is worth saving. If you have the option of getting in the car and finding low cost parking near your place of work, why would you pay for a train ticket which could put you even further into debt?

With trains delays, cancellations, and standing room only, the car can often seem a much more appealing choice.

So Abellio ScotRail’s decision to put up some fares by 3.6 per cent is more than likely to drive many customers away - particularly when average salaries in Scotland fell by 1.6 per cent last year.

That will mean more cars on our roads and an increase in air pollution at a time when the Scottish Government is striving to reduce emissions. Environmental charities now have real concerns that these efforts could be set back following the rise in fares.

The Scottish Government signed off Abellio ScotRail’s fare rise last week. It’s time they stood up to the operator and enforced a freeze on ticket prices, not just to help cash-strapped commuters, but to protect the environment.