Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has called for an increase in the commuter rail Short Hop Zone boundaries in the Dublin region to include Laytown.
Deputy Munster said:
“The boundaries between intercity and commuter areas on the Dublin/Belfast railway network urgently need to be reviewed.”
“The population of the area served by Laytown train station has almost doubled since 2002 and the majority of those people commute in and out of Dublin to work every day on trains that are packed to the hilt at rush hours.”
“The current boundary of 35km may have been viable sixteen years ago however with the massive movement of people from Dublin to surrounding villages, Laytown, Bettystown, Mornington and Donacarney, this now needs to be taken into account.”
“The National Transport Authority’s (NTA) constant reiteration that the boundary must end somewhere and that they have no intention of increasing it beyond the 35 kilometre mark must be challenged to reflect today’s reality and the needs of hard-pressed commuters who are being charged exorbitant cost to travel to work.”
“An adult monthly ticket from Laytown to Dublin Connolly costs €237 compared to €154 from Balbriggan, a mere 10km along the track.”
“This matter needs to be addressed. I have raised it once again with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the NTA and will pursue this issue until the unfair anomaly is addressed.”
With a growing population in the Laytown/Bettystown/Mornington area of the commuter belt, the more uncomfortable the daily journey into the capital becomes. Commuters heading to work in early morning rush or even worse, heading home in the evenings are airtight packed in standing room only carriages for the larger part of their journey, with the added insult being that they have to pay through the nose for it too.
Whereas last November those travelling to the city centre from Naas/Sallins and Kilcock stations were brought into the Short Hop Zone (SHZ), Laytown, Gormanston and Drogheda on the Northern line were once again left within the intercity fare structure.
‘It’s way past time for the boundaries between intercity and commuter areas on the railway network to be reviewed,’ says Deputy Imelda Munster TD for Louth and East Meath, areas that have seen big increases in population as legions of Dubliners have moved out of the city because of high priced housing to areas which offer more affordable housing over the last thirteen or fourteen years.
The current boundary for Short Hop Zones is 35km which means that a monthly ticket for an adult from Laytown to Dublin costs €222 whereas commuters travelling from Balbriggan only pay €152. That is a big difference for two stops and approximately 10km along the tracks. Furthermore, a student travelling to NUI Maynooth from Laytown will pay a weekly fare of €92.60 while their peers in Balbriggan can get a weekly ticket for €45.30…less than half the cost
‘My constituents are extremely angry about this difference in outgoings for travel between them and their near neighbours. They feel that it’s extortionate. Perhaps the commuter boundary of 35km was correct up to the year 2000. However, just as the population has spread out massively from Dublin into the surrounding counties in the years since then, thus that 35km boundary needs to be extended to realistically reflect that increase and I have written to Irish Rail and the National Transport Authority asking them to look into this grossly unfair system as a matter of urgency.’
The Department of Social Protection has announced that the Laytown and Duleek Community Welfare Clinics are to relocate to the main Intreo Centre on Custom House Quay in Drogheda with effect from Monday 3rd April 2017.
Sinn Féin TD for Louth/East Meath Imelda Munster is outraged at this decision, which she says, will greatly inconvenience constituents in these areas who are already under extreme pressure.
The majority of the work carried out by Community Welfare Officers involves the administration of the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme which provides for those who are in need of assistance to meet a wide range of expenses, from diet and heating to mortgage and interest supplement and even for exceptional needs payments such as buggies, clothing or funeral costs.
‘The people who need to avail of this allowance are often amongst the most hard-pushed in our society suffering from severe financial pressure and its attendant anxiety. The very last thing they need is the additional inconvenience, not to mention travel expenses, that having to go to Drogheda will incur,’ says Deputy Munster.
‘I have written to the Minister regarding this matter requesting that he reconsider this decision and retain the Laytown and Duleek Community Welfare Clinics in the heart of the community, providing a service, where they belong.’