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Years of price hikes for CIE passengers

PASSENGERS face years of rolling bus and rail fare hikes as the country's public transport companies try to reduce their huge deficits.

CIE, incorporating Dublin Bus, Iarnrod Eireann and Bus Eireann, is attempting to turn a €40m loss in 2011 to a break-even situation next year.

It is also feared there may have to be job losses at the group as well as cuts to long-established services.

To make matters worse, passenger numbers have been in steady decline for years.

The figures peaked in 2007 when 288.7 million journeys were made on public transport but the number fell to 232.7 million last year.

The rising costs of fuel have exacerbated the difficulties at the group.

The details are revealed in CIE's annual report which is expected to be published later this week.

It is understood that the financial problems at the group became so serious last year that banks would not lend it any more cash.

Auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers has even cautioned that there is now a major doubt that the group can survive as a going concern.

CIE had to turn to the Government earlier this year for an emergency subvention.

Of the three group companies, only Bus Eireann recorded a surplus last year, reaching a target of €50,000.

Iarnrod Eireann lost €22m last year, while Dublin Bus lost €18m.