A New Year generally brings about new hope but I’ve lost all hope that Irish Rail will see sense with regard to the cost of travelling from Clarke Station in Dundalk.
Many people may not have realised it but recently the cost of a return train ticket from Dundalk to Connolly Station in Dublin jumped to almost €30.
It now costs €29.80 for a return ticket before 9.30am and while this price falls to €18.10 after that, it is still too dear in this day and age.
To put the charges in context, you could buy two return tickets to Dublin on the likes of Matthews Coaches and still have money over when compared with the cost of a single return trip on the train.
To make matters worse, you are not always guaranteed a seat on the train if you’re travelling by Enterprise.
For the record, I’m a frequent train user and find it a great way to travel. It is relaxing and mostly efficient.
A few of the trains could do with an upgrade but I understand this is in the pipeline.
However, it can’t take away from the fact that is now possible to fly to most UK cities for cheaper than it is to travel by train to our own capital.
These fares have inevitably put a lot of people off travelling by train, which is a great pity. Make no mistake about it, the train is a fantastic way to travel and is also one of the safest. When the bad weather hit a couple of Christmases ago, it pretty much kept the country moving at a time when road journeys were difficult at best.
Clarke Station is also a fantastic place to visit. It is one of the best looking stations in the country and has won numerous awards over the years for both its appearance and customer service.The staff there are friendly and helpful but their service, which is subsidised by the taxpayer, is going to be greatly diminished if people stop travelling by train – something that is inevitable as these outlandish prices increase.
To make matters worse, there are frequently deals on either side of the border to travel from Belfast to Dublin or vice versa for as little as £10. So, in effect, people on the same journey – albeit travelling a further distance – are paying much less than those going a greater distance.The staff, at least the majority of them, at Irish Rail cannot be blamed either. I know for a fact that many have argued to reduce the prices.
Certainly, from an outsider’s perspective, it would make more sense to have more people paying less than less people paying more. If 100 people paid €15 return, for example, it would still yield more money than if 20 people paid €30.
It would also encourage people to avail more of the Irish Rail break offers, not to mention incentivise people to holiday within Ireland on the likes of weekend breaks. If it costs €30 just to get to Dublin, imagine the cost if you wished to travel further afield by train to the likes of Sligo, Carrick-on-Shannon, Limerick or Cork.
We’re very lucky in this town that we have a great service on our doorstep. By hiking prices to unrealistic levels though, it will put people off rail travel. That, unfortunately, will be good for no one.