IRISH RAIL has adopted a Ryanair-style approach to online bookings by offering cheaper fares the further in advance customers book.
The company also said this system will allow it to introduce zero or €1 fares on the Cork-to-Dublin route.
The new pricing is a turnaround for Irish Rail, which previously had a set fare for a specific train regardless of when a person booked.
However, there are zero €10 online tickets and nine €36 fares for next Tuesday, whereas for Tuesday May 31 there are eight €10 fares and just one €36 ticket.
Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny said the further in advance a customer 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.
“The way in which we discount is now changing. Previously, we tended to have a set fare per train. For example, a specific train was €10 regardless if it was booked four weeks ahead or the day before travel. We are changing over to the method more commonly used in transport, which is that the fare varies in accordance with demand,” he said.
This means that €10 singles are available on all trains but that if demand increases for a certain train, the €10 tickets sell out and it then moves to the next price point.
The introduction of zero fares is also something that Mr Kenny advised to “watch this space” on.
Competition has heated up on the Cork-to-Dublin route with Ryanair offering one-way flights for €10 including all taxes and charges, while buses are available for €19.80 return.
Also last year the road journey time between Dublin and Cork was reduced by up to 45 minutes at peak time following the opening of the M7/M8 motorway.
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