Sunday 17 November 2019

Rail users hit with extra charges due to Leap system bug

Aideen Sheehan

COMMUTERS using Dublin's new integrated Leap ticket have been hit by extra charges after glitches at a number of DART stations.

Passenger group Rail Users Ireland (RUI) said they had heard a number of complaints about passengers being unable to tag on or off at some stations because of a software bug affecting some ticket validation points.

This means that passenger journeys are not being recorded properly, and they could face extra charges for their trip when they fail to "tag off" at the end of a journey.

It came as the National Transport Authority (NTA) announced that Leap cards are now available to purchase and top up at all 53 railway stations in the short-hop commuter zone, addressing a previous major shortcoming where rail commuters could only top up online or in shops.

About 100,000 users have signed up for the Leap card which has been hit by a series of problems despite costing €55m to implement since its launch seven months ago.

But RUI said they had heard complaints of a software bug since March 26.

And they said it had escalated in recent weeks as more people switched to Leap cards, which can be used on DART, bus and Luas trips. There had been particular problems at Glenageary station, but also at Killiney, Blackrock, Lansdowne and Clonsilla.

The problem affects card scanners at the stations, which are mostly used outside station opening hours. It is understood the glitch is only affecting rail journeys and not bus or Luas trips.

RUI spokesman Mark Gleeson said: "It is vital that the NTA addresses this quickly, or people will lose confidence in the system. Nobody wants to be caught travelling without a ticket because they couldn't tag on -- or lose credit because they couldn't tag off.

"Even though they are able to get a refund later, it can be embarrassing and a hassle."

Passengers who fail to tag off get charged €4.30, whereas a typical journey costs about half that -- so they would be down around €2.


Iarnrod Eireann confirmed it had been experiencing problems with the system and around 0.5pc of journeys had been affected.

A software upgrade is due shortly, Iarnrod Eireann said.

The NTA said there had been no upsurge of problems with Leap cards in recent weeks, but problems at rail stations might also relate to Irish Rail smartcards which are used only on train journeys.

However, they would continue to monitor the situation with Leap cards. Commuters seeking refunds should contact the Iarnrod Eireann customer helpline.

Irish Independent

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