Group condemns Irish Rail fare increases

Train users group Rail Users Ireland is highly critical of an approval of fare increases for Irish Rail today.

The National Transport Authority said today that it will permit Irish Rail to increase Dart, Commuter and some Intercity fares by an average of 3%. It declined Irish Rail’s request to increase fares by as much as 5%.

Requesting the increases Irish Rail said it needed the extra money because of a decrease in the state subvention, rising fuel costs and declining passengers numbers.

But Rail Users Ireland said that the fact that Irish Rail carried 1.1 million more passengers in 2010 than in 2009 “makes a mockery of claims that business is continuing to decline”.

Rail Users Ireland, spokesperson Mark Gleeson said: “The fare increases further punish passengers who live just outside the Dublin City Area who already pay considerably more per journey than those inside the city area. These commuters are also those who are most affected by the introduction of parking charges two years ago.”

He said the price rise will impact on all rail commuters.

Rail Users Ireland said Irish Rail was not meeting its Dart punctuality targets and other services suffered from delays and cancellations. It claims passengers continue to travel in “appalling crowded conditions” while 80 intercity coaches and a further 20 Dart coaches are out of service as a cost saving measure.

It said that because of the poor service, there should be a reduction in fares, not an increase. It pointed out that commuters in Northern Ireland on the Newry/Portadown to Belfast route received a 10% reduction in monthly ticket prices due to a reliability target being missed by only 0.2%.

Gleeson said, “Irish Rail is performing poorly due to its inability to operate a punctual, reliable railway. Customer service is non-existent, information remains poor and inconsistent with out of date timetables now a frequent sight at stations. Passengers are bused between stations on a near daily basis.”

“Despite Irish Rail’s scare tactics, claiming the companies act prevents it from continuing to post a loss, conveniently it is ignored that Irish Rail of its own free will opened the Western Rail Corridor in the knowledge it would lose 2.5 million euro per annum,” Rail Users Ireland said.

Rail Users Ireland advice on avoiding the increases:
  1. “For commuters within the Dublin short hop zone, smartcard is now always cheaper for any combination of single and return journeys Weekly, monthly, annual and some special tickets provide the best value for regular train users.”
  2. “As annual ticket prices increase in May 2011, now is the time to avail of the current fare to lock in value for the next 12 months. Annual tickets are priced at the equivalent of 10 monthly tickets. Under the taxsaver scheme a further saving of up to 50% is possible.”
  3. “Intercity tickets purchased online are subject to significant discount particularly for single journeys and offer greater rights of refund to the passenger in the event of a train cancellation or delay.”

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