IRISH Rail has increased its online prices, sparking outrage among customers.
Previously, the most expensive online ticket was €36 but this has increased to €37.
Online tickets used to be available for either €10 or €20, but the new pricing system puts them at €10, €21, €26 or €37.
For the first time it is now cheaper for a passenger to purchase a five-day monthly return ticket at a station for €71 rather than online, where they can pay up to €72 return.
When booking online, customers are hit with a €2 transaction fee and a €1 credit card fee.
The further in advance a customer now books, the better the chance of a discount fare being available. This means customers will be paying more for last-minute rail journeys, as is the case with airlines.
Consumer Association chief executive Dermot Jewell said that Irish Rail has essentially decided there is more money to be made from charging customers who cannot avail of early booking.
“Any late or last minute decisions by travelling consumers and families will now likely see them targeted and penalised for no more reason than that,” he said.
Mr Jewell said the idea that consumers will “jump with delight” at the introduction of a “Ryanair” approach does nothing to inspire confidence.
He said: “And, lets be realistic here, this has little to do with competition for a captive audience who wish to avail of travel by train.”
Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny said online fares are “discounted promotional fares” and are subject to change, as would be the case on most transport websites. He said that where the €10 fare sells out the next fare point applies.
Irish Rail does not need approval to increase online fares. Mr Kenny said regulated fares are booking office single and monthly return fares, which, he said, are always higher than those charged online. Any increases in these are subject to approval by the National Transport Authority and are publicised in advance.
“We adjust online fares downwards and upwards at various times, again as is the case with most transport websites,” he said.
There was much confusion on Twitter when consumers began to realise that Irish Rail had changed its pricing system. Many were outraged that they could no longer get cheap last minute online tickets.
For last-minute journeys from Cork to Dublin, the bus is now the cheapest option at €19.80 return. When booking in advance, Ryanair offers one-way flights for as little as €10, including all taxes and charges. However, Ryanair operates just one flight a day from Cork to Dublin.
The price of petrol has made driving a less attractive option, despite the road journey time between Dublin and Cork having been reduced by up to 45 minutes following the opening of the M7/M8.
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