‘About time fairer fares were introduced’: Guarded welcome for Greater Dublin transport changes

Reduced fares are welcomed, but infrastructure needs to improve, say rail users

A new fares policy for commuters in the Greater Dublin area has been described as a huge step forward, but rail users say improvements in terms of service reliability and frequency are still needed.

Richard Bannister, who commutes from Kildare town to Grand Canal Dock, welcomed the fact that a one-way ticket would in future cost him €7.50 as opposed “about €12″.

However, he said he would continue to take the car sometimes, as the diesel cost is only about €3 to €5.

“I know that is probably not fair of me, as the cost of the car should be factored in, but I have the car there anyway,” he said, adding that his partner also travels to Grand Canal Dock, meaning there is a larger saving when they hit the road together.


He said he would like to use the train at weekends, but the service from Co Kildare, which runs through the Phoenix Park Tunnel, does not operate on Saturdays and Sundays.

Mr Bannister is a contributor to the Facebook page Extend the Short Hop Zone – Newbridge & Surrounding Areas Commuters Group, members of which were broadly positive about the changes to fare prices announced on Wednesday by the National Transport Authority.

Fare bands

Labour TD for Louth & East Meath Ged Nash said it was “about time fairer fares were introduced” for rail commuters.

“Drogheda, South Louth and East Meath-based train users were for too long cash-cows paying unjustifiably high adult daily, monthly and annual rates to use trains on the busiest line in the country,” he said.

Other commuter groups in the Greater Dublin area were also broadly pleased with the decision, although many said rail services in particular need to be improved. Gary Marshall, of the Dublin Commuter Coalition, noted efforts to eliminate large differences in prices to commute from stations that are close together.

As an example, he cited the difference that previously existed for those travelling between Dublin and Balbriggan and Dublin and Gormanston on the northern railway line. He said it cost €3.90 to go 29km from the city to Balbriggan, but those going a further 3km to Gormanstown paid €9.10.

“Now both fares are €3.90, which is welcome,” he said.

Moves to reduce travel costs for younger people, along with the introduction of price caps, were particularly good decisions, Mr Marshall said. While the price of tickets was important, he added, people using the trains “want a service that is reliable, accessible and safe”.

“I think it is important to see this as a cost-of-living measure, rather then something that will generate a large modal shift,” he said.

Getting people to “make a mass shift to public transport” would, he continued, still require the development of infrastructure such as the Dart expansion and MetroLink.

The reduction in the fare from Dublin to Wicklow – from €10.45 to €6 – was welcomed by Derek Mitchell, a long-time campaigner for improved public transport in Co Wicklow.

Lower costs are one thing, Mr Mitchell said, adding, however, “We would like them to plan to run the trains properly.”

He said the single-line track south of Bray remained a problem, with large gaps in the timetable, particularly at weekends. Without addressing the timetable and the single track, he said, “there is just no frequency improvements beyond Greystones”.

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Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist