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Unread 26-07-2011, 20:19   #1
Mark Gleeson
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Default [article] Iarnród Éireann threatens teens with conviction

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Iarnród Éireann threatens teens with conviction
By Eoin English
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
IARNRÓD ÉIREANN has threatened two teenagers with a criminal conviction for fare evasion after a "mistake" over student travel cards.
National Rail Users Ireland, the lobby group which represents rail passengers, criticised the company’s heavy-handed approach and called last night for the establishment of an independent appeals body to hear such cases.

Chris Bohane, 18, and his friend Tara McCarthy, 18, from Cork, were fined €100 for travelling on a student ticket with what they thought were valid student cards.

The friends are now facing a court appearance after the company refused to accept they had made a mistake, and refused to accept a bank draft they offered to cover the fare difference.

"We never set out to avoid the fare," Chris said.

"The company’s customer service is terrible. I raised loads of issues in my letters, all of which have been ignored. The company has been totally dismissive of us.

"Court is the last place I want to be but I am prepared to go to court because I genuinely feel wronged."

The friends booked the discounted €45 student fare online for a return rail journey from Cork to Dublin.

A warning sign pops up during the payment process which warns students that they must have a valid Iarnród Éireann Student Travel Card, issued by the rail company through the dedicated studentravelcard.ie website.

But Chris and Tara have the internationally recognised Irish Secondary Students Union card, issued through the studentcard.ie website.

They mistakenly thought their student cards would be accepted by the rail company.

They boarded a train in Cork and their tickets were inspected without incident.

They boarded the return train and their tickets were inspected again, without incident.

They were almost home when an inspector, who boarded at Mallow, checked their tickets and issued them with a €100 fare evasion fine each. The pair were told they had the wrong student cards and would also have to pay the full €66 fare.

Chris wrote to the company disputing its fare evasion claim, and explained that it was a genuine mistake over the student cards.

He sent a bank draft for €50 to cover the difference between the two student fares and the full adult fare.

But the company said it has adopted a very strict policy in relation to ticketing and penalty fares, and refused to accept the payment.

"You committed an offence when you failed to abide by the terms and conditions regarding student ticketing," the company said in a letter.

"You’ve committed an offence and were issued a fixed penalty. You have not paid the penalty within the set period and now are leaving me with the option of prosecuting you for fare evasion."

The company warned a conviction would result in a hefty fine and a criminal conviction.

A company spokesman defended the get-tough approach.

"For some time now we have been implementing a zero policy on people who fail to purchase or produce a valid travel ticket," spokesman Barry Kenny said.

He said the company’s website warning about valid student cards is very clear and that it is the responsibility of each passenger to adhere to the terms and conditions of travel.

But the Rail Users Ireland said this case highlights several issues of concern.

"Fare evasion has to be tackled but the response has to be proportional to the offence," spokesman Mark Gleeson said. "If you start punishing people for honest mistakes, no one will travel by train."

He also said the case highlights flaws in the company’s ticket inspection system, and inconsistencies in its approach.

Mr Gleeson said the inspectors should have spotted the tickets problem in Cork, and that the teenagers should have been warned, and made pay the full fare there and then.

"This case highlights the need for an independent appeals operation like they have in London," he said.


Read more: http://www.examiner.ie/ireland/iarnr...#ixzz1TF2yvgmv
http://www.examiner.ie/ireland/iarnr...on-162182.html
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Unread 26-07-2011, 20:19   #2
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Cork 103fm at 11:15 tomorrow
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Unread 27-07-2011, 10:12   #3
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To be honest I'm not sure I've a lot of sympathy for them; they were properly warned what student card they needed and chose to proceed anyway, then chose to "raise a lot of issues" rather than paying up.

It's a mite unfair (but legal) for IÉ to look for the €100 fixed penalty plus the €66 fare, but the equivalent over here would not be much better — double the peak fare for the journey made.
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Unread 27-07-2011, 12:43   #4
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It's not so much the fine as the criminal conviction that seems unfair for what is more than likely a genuine mistake.

That kind of conviction can threaten the ability to get a visa for places like the US and Australia - an insane punishment for a saving that must have been a maximum of 20 quid.
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Unread 27-07-2011, 13:13   #5
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Clearly this two had the wrong tickets

BUT

1. Three separate ticket checks failed to catch them out
2. The use of studenttravelcard.ie and studentcard.ie are too similar and likely to confuse
3. The Irish Rail website does not require the student travel card id to be entered as the TVM/Booking office does
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Unread 27-07-2011, 14:13   #6
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This is quite unfair and over the top for the two of them- The studentcard carry is on is hugely ambiguous and vague. Particularly as each CIE company has different rules.

Besides, it does not seem they willingly evaded any fare!

It would be far more beneficial for all concerned that a mutual solution is reached instead of IE deciding to needlessly prosecute. And they wonder why less people use the train- for the two of these, their families and friends, they now have a tainted view of IE and hence will be reluctant to use the train again
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Unread 27-07-2011, 14:15   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neoncircles View Post
This is quite unfair and over the top for the two of them- The studentcard carry is on is hugely ambiguous and vague. Particularly as each CIE company has different rules.
IÉ and BÁC are the same actually.
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Unread 05-08-2011, 09:20   #8
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Why is the 'internationally recognised Irish Secondary Students Union card, issued through the studentcard.ie website' not accepted by Irish Rail?
If it did accept it that is problem solved.
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Unread 05-08-2011, 09:50   #9
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Northern Ireland has the exact same setup. In the UK there is no student deal at all just the 16-25 deal that Irish Rail operate as well. In France its the 12-25 card, German Bahncard 25 etc all of which must be paid for.

So is Irish Rail's policy consistent with other European railways => Yes

The card has to be issued by a transport company or else the ticket inspectors have no right to inspect it, or to retain it in the event of an evasion incident
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