Rail Users' Outrage: No to Pay Parking - No New Car Park
That was the message ringing in their ears, as rail users from Newbridge left a packed room in the Keadeen Hotel on Tuesday 20th March.
Irish Rails' management team were left in no doubt as to its customers' passionate disapproval to the introduction of pay parking. Newbridge Rail Group(NRG) produced their own evidence to show that Newbridge rail users already pay 37% more per mile than the cheapest station on the line. With the introduction of pay parking this stretches to almost 48% price differential! Irish Rail did not contest the findings.
The introduction of pay parking in Newbridge appears crucial to Irish Rails plan to introduce pay parking throughout its network. Should Irish Rail fail to achieve pay parking in Newbridge, it may dent plans to introduce the levy at other stations.
Irish Rail management attempted to defend the fee, justifying the costs as required to deliver improved parking facilities, which they recognise as currently being wholly inadequate for Newbridge. However, when challenged on the costs, Irish Rail management cited "board policy" as being a key factor to introducing pay parking.
As the board of Irish Rail is largely made up of political appointees, NRG invited all the candidates for the forthcoming election.
Kildare South Candidates
Candidates for the forthcoming election were asked by NRG where they stood on this issue. Minister for State, Sean Power T.D. said it was
"...unacceptable and unnecessary to bring in the cost of car parking ..."
Minister Power also stated that the current system where by regular users of the rail service can get tax relief on the cost of the ticket through their employer needed review as it was clear that many employers were not operating this scheme and thus the tax relief was being enjoyed by some but not all.
Richard Daly of Fine Gael was adamant that charging for parking for rail users just didn't make sense, declaring
" We've got to make it free for everyone" Daly also criticised Irish Rail for the cost of commuter tickets versus longer journeys referring to commuters as Irish Rail's "nearest and dearest!"
His Fine Gael running mate Alan Gillis warned Irish Rail "...not to gloss over the issues raised here tonight". Gillis recommended that Irish Rail fund the cost of car parking through business growth as they have the fastest growing service in Europe and that management should take that back to the board of Irish Rail.
Sean O'Fearghail T.D., Fianna Fail, was totally opposed to pay parking and confirmed he would personally raise the issue with Minister for Transport, Martin Cullen TD. He also promised to raise a motion against pay parking within the Fianna Fail parliamentary party. The Kildare town based TD also remarked that
"It was disgraceful to have to set up a rail users group to achieve a basic service and that all the promises made by Irish Rail last year should have been achieved."
Jack Wall T.D. was outraged at the poor customer service from Irish Rail that his constituents have represented to him. Deputy Wall described these as "horror stories" and wondered
"How can we continue the drive to increase the use of Public transport when the facilities are not in place, the price is too high and you, the commuter, have to spend valuable hours traveling, which could be better spent with your families?"
Irish Rail's failure to explain why the trains are constantly late since the introduction of the new timetable provoked laughter and tears of resignation from the audience.
Very real concerns were raised regarding overcrowding and health & safety since Irish Rail began making unscheduled stops in Sallins on 07.07 service, as this service is due to stop at the new Adamstown station from 12 April. Questions were raised as to how Sallins were able to get unscheduled stops and Newbridge wasn't. Again the answers from Irish Rail were depressingly inadequate.
When Irish Rail were asked as to why all the promises from March 2006 were not delivered within the three months they proposed, Irish Rail responded by stating that all remaining issues from last years meeting will be completed ....in three months!!
For Further information please contact Garrett Cummins at 086 1517570, Sean Meenan 086 3808186 or Nigel Heather 087 6996593
Also available as in a printable format