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Blog - There's a war going on

It may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but there's a war going on. This war is not a fight, it is not violent - well, not in a traditional sense - it is a battle of words played out on the national airwaves, in the national press and on the internet. This war is a battle in which the spoils are intangible, yet real. You are the spoils. It is, of course, a propaganda war. This fine piece of work you're reading is a weapon in it. As you can imagine, RUI is a participant in it, and in the opposite corner it is traditional to assume that you will find IE, the DoT, the RPA and Veolia, however there are the usual apologists and hangers on for those bodies, the fanboys who get all excited by trains and the employees of those in the corner who type away on the internet and who like to call you, dear reader and your fellow passengers "normal's".

As a "normal" you don't know how lucky you are. You should ignore the fact that after spending €117 million the Cork Trains still induce nausea after two years in service and you should be thankful that IE have managed to figure out that Aircon and Heating work best when kept away form each other on the new intercity railcars. You might also find comfort in the nice ads splashed on the Red Line Luas trams that they are 10 meters longer and you can overlook the fact that you can't see the information display form where you're standing on the platform in the new Phoenix Park Station. You can even, if you want, be reassured by the latest punctuality figures from IE on the Limerick - Dublin route.

According to the latest IE figures trains on this route are hardly ever late. In fact they are 94% on time. Amazing considering that those who actually would be on those trains wouldn't agree. So we asked a daily commuter, let's call him Sean, to keep a log of his morning train, the 5.35 from Limerick. Well, Sean gave us his log of every day he travelled from October 11th till December 21st. It has been late 21 times out of 51. That's 41.2% or in more shocking terms 13 minutes a trip, a full 7 hours lost. Of course, IE's definition of late is not yours. Your train gets into Dublin 10 mins late and you miss your connection for work and you turn up late you cant say to your boss "well, as I'm not more than 10% of my scheduled working time late, I am therefore not late" Well, if you do, you can bring your P45 with you to the PR department of IE in Amiens Street. The company's definition of late is 10 minutes which is handy, considering that they have also built in an average of 10 minutes extra to each journey to allow trains to get in at a nice leisurely pace. Now, if a train is late after all that, it is a disaster, but a disaster that can be buried by massaging definitions of late, and by having parts of the statistics flowing over from one reporting period to the other.

So, there you are, another little battle in the propaganda war.

Meanwhile, you may have seen the usual press puff which appears in the media whenever anything happens on the railway that IE feel good about, including the bit about the new intercity railcars. They were launched this week (again) on the Sligo line with a red carpet and a big banner saying welcome for those on the 1105 out of Connolly, heralding a whole new world for the poor people on this line. Those on the 0905 to Sligo where ushered into a old 29K commuter car hidden out of sight. You couldn't make it up. Anyway these railcars have worked wonders for Sean since their introduction since January on his morning train.

He is now only 12 minutes late on average. Money well spent after all!

Last Updated: February 10 2008 23:08:14
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