408. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection to outline her plans to allow old age pensioners who avail of the free travel scheme and who travel on trains to receive a return ticket rather than queuing for a ticket each way; if there would be a cost to permitting return tickets to be allowed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18857/18 asked on 01 May 2018)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Customers who wish to avail of free travel must have their free travel pass with them when travelling. Customers must present their pass at the ticket desk in the train station in order to be issued with their free rail ticket when travelling on Iarnród Éireann mainline, Dart and Outer Suburban services. Where a customer is making a return journey on the same day they will receive a day return ticket. In all other cases, customers are issued with a single journey ticket.

Payment to Iarnród Éireann is part of a block payment my Department makes to CIÉ in respect of the free travel scheme. Whilst there is no cost implication in permitting the issue of return tickets on all train journeys, the Deputy will appreciate that the practice of issuing single journey tickets minimises the opportunity for misuse of the free travel pass.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.