Commuters hit by 'hefty' rise in cost of rail station parking
Move 'will prompt passengers to ditch trains and Dart for cars'
Commuters have hit out over "hefty" increases in parking charges at most railway stations.
The move will affect thousands of people who park at commuter, intercity and Dart stations.
A leading passenger representative group said the price hikes would deter people from opting for rail and Dart services at a time when urban roads were choked during rush hours.
From this week, parking costs have shot up by up to 17pc, despite overall inflation being flat.
The latest parking hikes come on top of a seven-day commuter ticket rising by 50pc since 2010 to €40.10.
Higher charges for parking impacted from yesterday, when rush-hour Dart users were hit by huge delays due to a fault with level-crossing systems.
The cost of parking at most commuter stations for a day has gone up from €4 to €4.50 from the start of this week. Parking by text for a day is now 50c dearer at €3.50, a rise of almost 17pc.
Irish Rail said it was the first increase in the cost of parking in three years, and said it needed the extra money to fund services in general and maintain the car parks.
Parking at Connolly and Heuston in Dublin and Kent in Cork will now cost €9.50 a day for those paying in cash, a 50c rise. Galway and Limerick stations are unaffected by the rises.
Weekly costs have also gone up at most commuter stations. It will now cost €11 to pay in cash to park for a week, up by €1. The text cost for weekly parking is also up by €1 to €9. Monthly parking costs are unchanged.
The rises come after some annual rail tickets went up by a cumulative 40pc since 2009.
An annual rail ticket that cost €1,000 six years ago now costs €1,400.
Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny defended the rises, pointing out that they were the first in three years.
He stressed that monthly parking costs had not risen, a move that would benefit daily commuters. Asked why parking charges were rising when rail fares have gone up so much, Mr Kenny said: "These are the first changes to car parking rates in over three years. Revenue from car parking helps maintain the upkeep of car parks and fund general rail services."
Read More: How fares have jumped in the past few years
The rail company has been hit by a huge fall in the State subvention it gets, and it is claimed it needs more than €600m over the next five years to maintain services.
There is no change to the parking charges at some car parks that serve Irish Rail stations but are not owned by the State railway company.
These include Shankill and Salthill/Monkstown, on Dublin's southside; Adamstown, Clondalkin, Clongriffin, Navan Road and Killiney in Dublin; Greystones in Wicklow; Nenagh in Tipparary; Oranmore in Galway, Sixmilebridge in Co Clare and Wexford town.
Irish Rail owns 66 car parks where it charges. It has 37 car parks at stations where there is no charge, and there are 28 stations with no parking.
Asked about fare rises, Irish Rail said: "The cost of a seven-day weekly ticket in 2010 was €26.80. The total cost today is €40.10."
That is a 50pc rise.
Mark Gleeson, of pressure group Rail Users Ireland, said the parking price rises at most stations would stop people using public transport. He claimed parking prices had been going up regularly.
He said Irish Rail had been constantly increasing the cash price of parking, while offering deals for those who booked parking by text. Mr Gleeson said: "The cash price of parking has been going up consistently. Trains are expensive enough. This is just another thing to stop people taking the train."
He claimed commuters were getting nothing in return for the higher parking charges. He said there was poor security at many station car parks.
"We are already paying through the nose for train fares. Annual fares are going up by around 10pc every year. This parking rise will not help."
Mr Gleeson claimed rail fares in this country were up to twice as expensive as in other EU states. Commuter rail and intercity fares increased from the start of last December by up to 3pc.
Deputy chairman of the Consumers' Association of Ireland Michael Kilcoyne said the parking price hike would stop some people from using trains.
"These are hefty increases, and will only discourage people from using the trains. With the high cost of train fares and parking, many people will decide it is cheaper to use the car," he said.
Mr Kilcoyne said rail passengers should not be expected to constantly bail out the company.