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New rail parking charges to cost commuters €500 a year


Leixlip Confey station is one of 37 stations set to get pay parking

Leixlip Confey station is one of 37 stations set to get pay parking

Leixlip Confey station is one of 37 stations set to get pay parking

THOUSANDS of commuters will have to fork out up to €500 a year more just to get to work from September.

Commuters and shoppers will be left counting the cost after CIE confirmed controversial plans for new 'park and ride' charges at dozens of railway stations.

The semi-state company has signed a contract with a private parking control and clamping company to introduce 'pay and display' parking at 37 stations on the greater Dublin commuter network, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Commuters from as far away as Longford and Gorey will be hit with parking charges of €2 a day, where previously they could park for free.

Opposition TDs and transport lobby groups last night branded the new charges as "unacceptable".

However, CIE rejected suggestions the charges would discourage commuters from using public transport.

CIE signed the contract with a Dublin-based company, Nationwide Controlled Parking Systems (NCPS), earlier this month. The contract will run until November 2011.

It was advertised last February to companies who had previously expressed an interest in offering car park management services for CIE.

CIE will receive a €1m-a-year slice of the revenue generated from the parking fees, but has refused to say -- for commercial reasons -- what the contract is worth to NCPS.

The stations where pay parking is set to be introduced are:

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l Dundalk, Drogheda, Laytown, Balbriggan, Skerries, Rush & Lusk, Donabate, Malahide and Portmarnock on the northern line.

l Sutton, Killester, Clontarf Road, Booterstown, Dalkey and Bray on the DART line.

l Athlone, Portarlington, Kildare, Newbridge, Hazelhatch, Carlow, Athy, Portlaoise, Clara and Monasterevin on the Heuston commuter line.

l Coolmine, Maynooth, Mullingar, Edgeworthstown, Leixlip Confey, Kilcock, Enfield and Longford on the Maynooth/Longford line.

l Arklow, Wicklow, Rathdrum and Gorey on the Wicklow/ Gorey line.

Approximately 150,000 people use commuter lines in and out of Dublin each day, with just under 5pc of these using station car parks, according to CIE.

Transport lobby group Rail Users Ireland (RUI) slammed the new charges, saying commuters were being specifically targeted to generate revenue.

"It is bad news for commuters. I think that charging for car parks will definitely discourage people from using public transport," said RUI spokesman Mark Gleeson.

Fine Gael transport spokesman Fergus O'Dowd said: "Increasing the cost of someone's travel expenses by several hundred euro a year is not acceptable.

"If you have always parked for free then you should still be able to do so.

"It is going to make things very difficult for people who are already feeling the pinch from the economic downturn," he added.


CIE spokesman Barry Kenny confirmed to the Irish Independent that the contract would come into force from September onwards and would roll out through the autumn.

Mr Kenny said a €2-a-day charge would apply, with a discounted rate of €8 a week, and that those who don't "pay and display" would be liable for clamping and fines.

"The experience shown in other public transport 'park and ride' facilities, be they operated by Iarnrod Eireann, Luas or local authorities, shows that commuters are not discouraged from using public transport, particularly with such a low nominal charge," Mr Kenny told the Irish Independent.

"What we have seen in fact is an increase in the catchment area for public transport -- those who live within walking distance of stations leaving their cars at home, freeing up spaces for people from a wider area to benefit from the parking facilities.

"With soaring fuel costs and high parking charges in cities, our commuting costs remain extremely low by comparison."

Mr Kenny said revenue generated by the charges would be put towards a major programme of car park expansion by Iarnrod Eireann, with over 13,000 new spaces planned across the network.

These plans include what would be the largest 'park and ride' facility in the country, a 1,200-space car park north of Dunboyne, Co Meath.

The possibility of multi-storey car parks in Drogheda, Portmarnock, Coolmine and Cork is also being examined.

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