MORE than 300 people have been referred to the Department of Social Protection in a major crackdown on the use of fraudulent free travel passes.
More than 50 Revenue Protection Officers blitzed trains nationwide in an ongoing campaign which is trying to end one of Iarnrod Eireann's "biggest leakages in revenue".
The crackdown took place on Saturday, December 7, on a variety of routes, including Cork Commuter, Galway to Athlone, Mullingar to Dublin (Connolly), Limerick Junction to Ennis, and at exits at Connolly, Pearse, Tara Street and Heuston Station.
Spokesperson for Iarnrod Eireann Jane Cregan said that many of the people who were referred had used an older version of the Free Travel Pass which does not include a picture, and were unable to prove their identity with a second form of ID.
She said that others, who had clearly attempted to use an out of date Free Travel Pass or one that was issued to someone else, were fined on the spot.
Ms Cregan gave an example of one woman who was discovered using a Free Travel Pass dating back to 2007 -- who immediately had her pass confiscated -- received the standard €100 fine and was ordered to pay the standard fare for her journey. Iarnrod Eireann has boosted its Revenue Protection Unit in recent months "to clamp down on one of our biggest leakages in revenue," said Ms Cregan.
"The majority of our customers pay the correct fare or hold a legitimate Free Travel Pass. It's only fair that we should be vigilant towards those who are using fake cards or not paying the correct fares," she said.
"If you travel without the correct ticket or valid Free Travel Pass, there is a high likelihood that you will get caught, so I'd advise everyone to always ensure they are carrying the correct documentation."
Ms Cregan said that the number of people attempting to use fraudulent passes is partly enabled by the fact that they are easily copied, and because older versions do not include a picture.
The Department of Social Protection is currently in the process of rolling out a Public Services Card to replace the Free Travel Pass which Iarnrod Eireann hopes will act as a further deterrence to fraudsters.