Over 24,000 vehicles have been clamped at Irish Rail car parks over a three-year period, figures released by the company has revealed.
The data covers 75 stations across the county over the period from 2016 up to and including February 24 of this year, and shows a total of 24,241 clamping incidents in that time.
Over the time in question, the clampings peaked in 2017 with 9,642 incidents compared to 7,771 in 2016 and 6,088 last year.
Commuters on the Dublin to Cork line appear to suffer more than most - Heuston Station in the capital and Kent Station on Leeside are the top two blackspots in the country, and make up more than a quarter of all clampings.
Heuston accounted for 3,286 clampings from 2016 to February 2019, peaking in 2017 with a total of 1,372 such incidents - the most for any one station in a single year over the period in question.
Kent Station had 2,877 in the same time, and saw substantially more clampings than in Heuston station in 2018, recording 1,108 incidents compared to Heuston’s 799 that year.
Connolly Station Dublin (1,376), Ceannt Station Galway (1,105), and Portmarnock (999) rounded off the top five clamping blackspots from 2016 to February 2019.
The data covers the total amount of vehicles clamped and does not include situations where appeals or refunds were awarded.
The figures were released by Irish Rail to Peter Horgan, Labour’s Cork City South East ward representative.
Mr Horgan has been an ongoing critic of the clamping regime, particularly the practice of outsourcing the work to private companies.
He said the figures he has obtained show that clamping does nothing to discourage commuters from parking illegally.
“The amount handed over to a private firm for clamping on public land is breathtaking but more importantly the issue of clamping, especially at night, is one that must be addressed,” Mr Horgan told the Irish Examiner.
“There is a public safety issue at play here and as the numbers show it is not a deterrent. Of course there should be parking enforcement for those who park illegally but the extreme system of clamping is not the answer in my book,” he said.
Irish Rail had previously defended clamping in a statment to the Irish Examiner.
“There needs to be an effective deterrent to non-payment of parking charges or illegal parking, and clamping is the most effective deterrent there is,” it said.
It also said its operators respond to remove clamps at all times, including after the last train services at night, and that there is security at all stations.
Eight stations had no clamping incidents at all over the three years in question, though some if not all of these do not charge for parking.
These were at Carrigtwohill, Glounthane, Little Island and Midleton in Cork, and Ardrahan, Craughwell, Gort, and Woodlawn in Galway.
Those who park at Kent Station, along with Dublin's Connolly and Heuston stations, and pay by machine are charged €9.50 per day to €112 for a monthly ticket, with cheaper rates offered to those who use APCOA's app.
Frequent commuters are charged €1,344 for an annual parking ticket.
Rates for stations outside Cork, Dublin, Galway, and Limerick cities range from €3.50 a day for those who pay by app, to €360 a year.
Any motorist who finds their car has been clamped and wants to appeal the action is directed by Irish Rail to submit a complaint to APCOA’s website.