A timeline for the introduction of the Leap card on the Mallow-Cork rail line has been provided for the first time.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) has said it is aiming to introduce the commuter rail fare structure to include Mallow by the middle of next year.
Campaigners have for years called for the introduction of the Leap card for services between Mallow and Cork.
Although the journey takes roughly 25 minutes, a one-way ticket costs over €9.
In comparison, a 40-minute journey from Dublin’s Tara Street to Bray in Wicklow on the Dart costs just €2.30 using a Leap card.
The Leap card can already be used on Cork city bus services, as well as rail services on the Cork-Cobh and the Cork-Midleton lines.
In March of this year, the NTA had said it was unable to accommodate the inclusion of Mallow in the Leap fare zone for the Cork area “given the likely revenue implications”.
However, on Tuesday, NTA chief executive Anne Graham said despite the challenging situation brought about by Covid-19, it was committed to introducing the measure when the subvention funding has been made available to cover the loss in revenue from such a measure.
“Therefore the NTA aims to introduce a commuter rail fare structure incorporating Mallow by mid-2022," she said.
The statement was released by the NTA to Labour’s Seán Sherlock.
He described it as a “huge milestone” in the campaign to introduce Leap card fares for Mallow.
“We have maintained the pressure on successive governments, on successive ministers for transport and the NTA,” the Cork East TD said.
“We finally have a timeline of mid-2022 to see those fares introduced.”
Mr Sherlock said the minister for transport and the Government could fast-track this with a direct subvention.
“I will be putting pressure on the Government to do just that,” he said.
“It is a welcome move, but we can do more, and do it faster.”