Murdo has raised his concerns at a dramatic fall in the number of rail passengers boarding trains at Inverkeithing rail station, stating it could have a detrimental effect on the economy.
As a result he has called on companies to consult their staff on what their work policy is.
Data obtained by the Scottish Conservatives through Freedom of Information reveal that only 89,896 passengers have boarded ScotRail trains at Inverkeithing rail station from April 1 to August 15 this year. The total figure for the 2022/23 financial year was 205,463.
Commenting, Murd MSP said: “The figures for this financial year so far are very concerning. I see for myself how rail passenger numbers are a lot lower this year, as the car park beside Inverkeithing is often half empty when I get the train to Edinburgh for my work as an MSP.
“The overall total was quite high back in the 2019/20 financial year, amounting to 349,253 – probably in line with most other rail stations in the country. This figure dramatically fell - as you would expect - during Covid to just 50,173 passengers in the 2020/21 financial year.”
Murdo continued: “Looking at the figures, the total rose to 183,586 in the 2021/22 financial year, and then increased again to 205,463 in the last financial year. This gave the impression that things were getting back to normal. However, with only 89,896 passengers up to August 15 this year, it confirms my fears that there has been a notable drop in people using the train and travelling into work.
“Even though the figures for the present financial year will run up to the end of March next year, it looks like the total for 2023/24 will fall well short of the 2022/23 financial year. I am sure it may well be a similar situation at other rail stations in Scotland.
“This fall in rail passenger numbers raises concerns over the impact it has on city centre businesses. I know that many city centre businesses in Perth for example are struggling due to less footfall in the city centre, with some recently having to close their doors.
“I realise that for some people, working from home will suit them, especially those with young families. However, I feel that companies need to consult their staff on what their work policy should be. In other words, should it be either hybrid/home or office working as there is an obvious correlation between lack of footfall in city centres and businesses there struggling to keep going.”