Emails regarding the removal of peak fares on ScotRail trains: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

Any emails between civil servants from Transport Scotland and Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for net zero energy and transport, since January 1st 2023 that discuss the removal of peak fares on ScotRail trains.


You will find information you requested in Appendix A to this letter.

You will see that some of the information has been redacted in line with the following FOISA exemptions:

Section 30(b)(i) - Substantial inhibition to free and frank exchange of advice

An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of advice. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers.

Disclosing the content of free and frank exchange of advice would inhibit the exchange of advice in future between officials and Ministers in relation to areas of future policy making.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate.

However, there is a greater public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can offer full and frank advice to Ministers, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s decision making process. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn, will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

In addition to the above exemption being applied to some of the information there is a document which is referenced in the emails which fall into the scope of your request.This document is referred to as “FMQ brief”. This document is a First Minister’s Questions brief and the information contained within it is also exempt under Section 30 (b) (i) for the same reasons that are outlined above.

Section 38 (1) (b) – Third party data

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names and contact details of individuals and companies, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.

This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

Annex A - 202300338943


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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