Workers and students from north Cork who are regular rail users into Cork City are being penalised as they cannot avail of Leap card discounts, applicable to other so-called ‘commuter’ lines in the region.
County councillors have urged Iarnród Éireann and the National Transport Authority to change the fare structure.
Cllr Gearoid Murphy won total support from colleagues on the council’s Northern Division. He said that while the inter-city Mallow–Cork line was considered part of the Cork commuter network — which includes Midleton and Cobh — it does not have the same discounted Leap card status of the other two towns.
Cllr Murphy said Mallow is part of Cork city’s ‘commuter’ area for the purposes of rail travel.
“This is why there is no charge, for example, to bring a bicycle onto the train going from Mallow to Kent Station, but there is a small charge if travelling long distances. However, it has been brought to my attention that, in spite of this, the ‘commuter’ fare structure is not applied between Mallow and Cork,” he said.
Cllr Murphy said the Leap card facility is not available for commuters between Mallow and Cork.
“Leap cards can bring substantial savings and increased convenience for commuters, from reduced fares and weekly fare caps. A commuter fare structure has the potential to provide significant savings to regular commuters and make rail travel a more viable and popular option,” Cllr Murphy said.
“On a straight-line basis, Kent Station is around 19.5km away from Midleton Station and 29.5km away from Mallow Station. However, the track is significantly straighter between Kent Station and Midleton, which may affect matters. Even taking this into account, however, it does appear to me that day tickets are still cheaper per kilometre travelled between Midleton and Kent Station, although this doesn’t hold up for weekly or monthly tickets.” He said the adult, day, single fare from Midleton-Cork is €4.50 with a Leap Card, while Mallow-Cork is €11.35. Adult, day return from Midleton-Cork is €9 with Leap, but €18.70 on the Mallow-Cork route.
“I believe that the introduction of Leap cards, and associated, reduced fares and weekly fare caps on trains between Mallow and Cork, would be of great convenience to all commuters,” Cllr Murphy said.
Cllr Frank O’Flynn said he knew of 100 children who travelled each day to school on the train to Cork who would benefit from fare reductions.
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