Pensioners
travel to save on
heating claim

Pensioners
travel to save on
heating claim
Local pensioners are travelling on the train in order to save money heating their homes, it has been claimed.

Local pensioners are travelling on the train in order to save money heating their homes, it has been claimed.

Local representatives of organisations for the elderly say that pensioners are using their free travel pass to travel Dublin and Belfast returning home in the evening to reduce the cost of heating their homes.

Dozens of trains travel both north and south of the border at Dundalk’s Clarke station.

Sixteen trains travel from Dundalk to Dublin Connelly daily, while eight trains travel to Belfast Central.

Dundalk man Brendan Crawley, a representative of the local branch of Active Retirement Ireland, said that he is aware of some pensioners who make these trips.

“We are aware that pensioners go on the train to reduce the costs of their heating bills,” Brendan said.

“There is also a lot of people who are unable to make these trips on the train because where they live does not have a bus service to the local train station.

“The government leave the rich alone and they target the vulnerable.”

However, Jim Cousins, former councillor and Senior Citizens Parliament executive member, said local elderly people just visit their families in Dublin and Belfast.

“Pensioners use their free travel pass responsible,” Mr Cousins said.

“I know a lot of people that visit family members in Dublin and Newry.

“It means that they are out of the house, but it also means they reduce their bills as they are not at home.”

Gerard Scully of Age Action also said that they are aware of elderly people spending their days in shopping centers, libraries and trains.

Mr Scully said he was “not shocked” and that although it is “sad”, these day-trippers highlight the benefit of the travel pass.

The government are currently reviewing the free travel scheme in order to consider options to cut the €75m bill.

These options include means testing those eligible for the free travel pass, and introducting a levy.

They are also considering operating restrictions on travel times.

In 2011, 726,000 people held a free travel pass.

Brendan Crawley also lashed the governments recent budget.

“Elderly people cannot take any more cuts,” said Brendan.

“Although its coming up to local elections, we will remember these cuts when we vote.”