East coast commuters wait in hope on train fare review

A COMMITMENT by Environment Minister, Eamon Ryan to address huge fair disparity outside the Dublin Short Hop zone is expected to prove a boost to hard pressed commuters in Laytown, Gormanston.

A Fares Review Report will be published shortly that will set out a new overall bus and rail fares strategy.

The Minister has also confirmed that the extension of the DART service to Gormanston, Laytown and Drogheda is scheduled for 2025

The new fares strategy is expected to see commuters from Laytown and Gormanston being able to avail of lower commuter fares. There is currently a huge difference in the price of the train fare from Laytown to Connolly Station compared to Balbriggan, which is just six minutes down the line from Laytown. Adult fares from Laytown are nearly twice the price while children's fares are more than six times higher.

Longtime Fairer Fares Campaigner, Cllr Sharon Tolan said that following her recent campaign, the National Transport Authority undertook a National Bus and Rail Fares Review in the latter part of 2022.

“My Fine Gael colleagues in government and I have worked hard to keep this issue to the fore of our party policy, keeping it on the agenda in the Dail, Seanad and in council chambers around the country. Indeed, I have received the full support of Fine Gael party leader and Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar who is determined to put money back in people’s pockets in every way possible.

"Minister Eamon Ryan has now committed to addressing the huge fare disparity outside the Short Hop Zone during this process. I am very hopeful that we will see fairer fares introduced soon.

"The monthly rate for an adult from Laytown to Connolly is €190, whilst a mere six minutes down the line at Balbriggan it is €115 and commuters from Balbriggan can avail of further reduction on their Leap cards that aren't available to commuters from Meath.

"An adult day return to Connolly from Laytown is €16.90 and from Balbriggan it is €8.75. A child's fare from Laytown is €5.80, but from Balbriggan, it is just 65 cent." Senator Regina Doherty raised the fare disparity in the Seanad recently and Minister Ryan acknowledged the huge difference and confirmed he would be addressing it.

Cllr Tolan said: "I received such amazing support from the public throughout this campaign, and I want to thank all of those who engaged with me, sent emails, made submissions and highlighted the issue on social media. I will, of course, be keeping the pressure on in every way possible until we see fair fares actually delivered”.

"People from Drogheda and East Meath should be able to use their local stations at an affordable fare."

Cllr Tolan has also expressed concern that ticket machines in Laytown and Gormanston are regularly out of order but if passengers, in a hurry to get to work, decide to get on the train anyway, they are being fined.

"You cannot use your Leap card in the Gormanston or Laytown stations, but you can use it on the buses. We should have the technology in place to deal with all this."

Meanwhile, Minister Ryan has also confirmed the new DART services between Drogheda and Dublin city will be rolled out from early 2025, serving Laytown and Gormanston.

He said: "This rail project will transform the lives of people living in communities along the route, giving them a fast, reliable and frequent train service into Dublin."