New train station parking charges criticised

 

Thousands of motorists who leave their cars at train stations before commuting to work face extra charges in the autumn, as Iarnród Éireann plans to significantly expand the number of pay-parking facilities in the Dublin and surrounding counties.

Motorists will see the cost of travelling to work rise by about €400 per annum when the new charges are introduced in September.

Iarnród Éireann today confirmed the plan to introduce pay-and-display parking in 37 stations that will be policed by a private parking control and clamping company. Commuters will be charged €2 per day to park or €8 per week.

Iarnród Éireann defended the new charges which the company said were the lowest charges of any paid public transport park-and-ride facilities in the commuter area. It said revenue from the parking fees would fund a major programme of car park expansion, with over 13,000 new spaces across the network.

"This nominal charge will allow us to continue the development of our car park facilities," a spokesman said.

"The experience shown in other public transport park and ride facilities is that payment has seen an increase in the catchment area for public transport - those who live within walking distance of stations are leaving the car at home, freeing up spaces for people from a wider area to benefit from the parking facilities."

The rail company has already introduced a number of pay-parking sites, but from September the number will be expanded significantly. CIE has signed a contract with Nationwide Controlled Parking Systems (NCPS) that will run until 2011.

Labour transport spokesman Tommy Broughan said the size of the charges "will greatly discourage people from using public transport".

The party's spokesman on commuter issues, Senator Dominic Hannigan said the new charges were “totally unacceptable”.

“Plans to ask people to fork out another eight euro a week for car parking facilities that have been free for years cannot be allowed to proceed,” he said.

“I feel strongly that commuters should be able to claim tax back on these parking charges, just as they are able to do with their train fares,” he added.

“If these fees are to be introduced, it's very important that any revenue raised at local stations must be spent in local stations, not miles away from the people handing over the money”.

Fine Gael’s transport spokesman Fergus O’Dowd said the new charges were a blow to families already feeling “the pinch of Brian Cowen's recession”.

“This decision by CIE will do nothing to help commuters who have no choice but to pay the charge and use the facility. While an extra €2 a day might not seem that much it builds up to an additional €500 a year in transport costs,” he said.

Dundalk, Drogheda, Laytown, Balbriggan, Skerries, Rush & Lusk, Donabate, Malahide and Portmarnock on the northern line will see the new charges. Sutton, Killester, Clontarf Road, Booterstown, Dalkey and Bray Dart stations will also have pay parking introduced.

On the Heuston Station commuter line, charges are to be introduced in Athlone, Portarlington, Kildare, Newbridge, Hazelhatch, Carlow, Athy, Portlaoise, Clara and Monasterevin.

Coolmine, Maynooth, Mullingar, Edgeworthstown, Leixlip Confey, Kilcock, Enfield and Longford on the Maynooth/Longford line, and Arklow, Wicklow, Rathdrum and Gorey on the Wicklow/Gorey line will also have pay-and-display systems.