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Unread 15-05-2008, 21:57   #1
Colm Moore
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Default First experience of the Mark 4

So I travelled Heuston-Cork on a Mark 4 for the first time on Wednesday evening.

I arrived with only a few minutes to go and rushed for the gate. While I imagine loading the train from a midpoint improves distribution, the rush of the extra distance didn't help my asthma.

Departure was prompt and the train seemed to glide out of Heuston instead of the previous lurch. Between Heuston and Inchicore I was slightly disappointed to notice that there is still a section of jointed track, although there was no vibration and the noise was well muffled. Otherwise the ride was good, with no buffeting (although average speed was down substantially). I think the only points I noticed were Ballybrophy, but that was in no way objectionable.

I stole Mark Gleeson's usual seat. The seats are comfortable, although the table could do with being just a little bigger. However, with only about 30-40% occupancy this wasn't a problem on this trip. The variety of seating options (pairs, foursomes, rear-facing pairs) was good.

The big windows, with tinting, were good, although I was slightly uncomfortable with the amount of glass in the main doors - felt really exposed. Neither of the internal doors between Car C and the dining car were working and were in the open position. This is unacceptable as that area is a ventilation lobby for the toilet. In the car forward (D), the toilet was out of order and there was a strong enough sewage-like smell in the lobby. The positioning of the 'open' button on toilet doors is unfortunate - one passenger forced the door open by hand, thinking that it was merely stiff, not that she was going agaisnt a motor. Extra signage at the door 'handle' would be useful.

The snack car was well advertised, although the English and Irish announcements seem to be slightly different. Of note the English announcement, it seems to say "sale ... and cold snacks". Despite listening to the message intently a number of times, I ws not able to work out if it included the word "hot". Food is a bit on the expensive side and service was functional, even minimalist. I lolled at he use of a calcuator to add the price of a drink to a sandwich. I returned later for another drink to find a bag of ice in the wash hand basin ("hand washing only") and both the ice and on-counter sandwiches sitting in the evening sun.

Arrival was on time, although with only a few stops 2h55m is a ridiculous journey time that 15 years ago could be done in 2h30m .

EDIT: Ticket was checked at Heuston and Thurles.

Staff
(a) Ticket checker - no name badge, but otherwise OK.
(b) On board cleaner - only seemed to operate in one direction, I never say him walk the other way. Name bage hidden under t-shirt.
(c) Train host - well presented, passed by twice, didn't seem to interact with passengers, no name badge - only identification was an IÉ tie.
(d) Heuston yellow shirts - not to be seen anywhere.

Last edited by Colm Moore : 16-05-2008 at 23:07.
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Unread 16-05-2008, 13:36   #2
CSL
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it seems to spend a lot of extra time between Cork and Mallow I find, and between Portlaoise and the Junction.
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Unread 16-05-2008, 17:53   #3
Thomas Ralph
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Funnily enough despite the timetable I'm finding that most of the time Dublin to Cork takes around 2h25m (and leaves around 10m late).
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Unread 16-05-2008, 20:28   #4
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Well, about the dining car, caterers should have plastic baskets for ice. In every canteen is so now. Baskets for ice are available from their stores. I think not the big problem if shop steward use calculator, it is important to provide high standarts of service. I am traveling very often and can not say nothing about service. Sometimes it is great.
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Unread 17-05-2008, 09:00   #5
Thomas Ralph
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The doors open based on pressure mats on either side. Generally if someone leaves luggage there, as they usually do, they will stick open.

It doesn't really matter if ice is left out. The sandwiches should have been in the fridge.

While the announcements make reference to hot and cold snacks, I am not aware of them serving any hot ones.

Unfortunately mental arithmetic is nowhere near like what it used to be, and I don't think there are very many of the minwaged catering staff who can add the price of a sandwich and a can of coke together, sadly. My chemistry teacher in leaving cert did logs in his head. I wish I was that good.

The ticket checkers have never worn name badges for as long as I've been travelling by train.
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Unread 18-05-2008, 01:54   #6
dowlingm
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I took a Mk4 from Limerick Junction to Heuston on 9 May. I liked that the lighting/ambience was quite bright compared to the dour decor I've grown used to on VIA Rail. I did notice that the train squeaked quite a bit and Mrs Dowling (who hasn't been on a train in a decade probably) thought the ride a bit bouncy - I didn't notice so much but I did notice a few slowdowns north of the expected PSR at Portarlington (due to KRP works perhaps?).

We got single contract tickets from Mitchelstown Credit Union for 20.80 each with no seat res which given we were travelling midday in a virtually empty carriage suited us fine. All in all the experience was largely satisfactory - I did find the continually scrolling PIS displays a bit distracting though.
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Unread 18-05-2008, 22:56   #7
Colm Moore
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tralph View Post
The doors open based on pressure mats on either side. Generally if someone leaves luggage there, as they usually do, they will stick open.
No luggage. I suspect they were out of order and / or turned off.
Quote:
It doesn't really matter if ice is left out.
It was a bag of open ice, strictly speaking it should be kept cold and definitely shouldn't be in an area where people are washing their hands.
Quote:
While the announcements make reference to hot and cold snacks, I am not aware of them serving any hot ones.
There are paninis and the like on the menu.
Quote:
Unfortunately mental arithmetic is nowhere near like what it used to be, and I don't think there are very many of the minwaged catering staff who can add the price of a sandwich and a can of coke together, sadly. My chemistry teacher in leaving cert did logs in his head. I wish I was that good.
The Revenue really prefer people to use cash registers.
Quote:
The ticket checkers have never worn name badges for as long as I've been travelling by train.
Strictly speaking they are meant to be displaying ID when asking for tickets.

So I did Cork-Heuston today. Arrival by car at the station was good, with the security guard in the car park encouraging people to use the whole set-down area and not to queue. The set down and taxi area has been revised and the taxi area now has a shelter. Its not perfect, but it seems to flow much better than previously.

As I had a couple of bags, I grabbed a trolley and inserted my one euro coin - a little stiff, but it worked. They also take 50c coins and I suspect people who put in a euro are at risk of being ripped off. There was no designated point on the platform for trolleys so it was a matter of working with two other trolleys (one didn't have the device for returning your money) to get my euro back.

The train was reasonably busy with maybe a 50% loading at Cork and that increased on its way north. Departure was reasonably prompt although the clock on the platform seemed to be running about 2 minutes ahead.

Train host was Nichola who came on and made a good welcoming announcement. She then walked the train, I even got a smile and then she wasn't seen for the rest of the journey, possibly hiding in City Gold. Unfortunately she did make one announcement over a recorded announcement (I think it was the snack car one). Another announcement later was indecipherable. Some of the "this train is the ......... please stand clear of the doors" announcements didn't work and merely came across as low static on the speakers.

The was no trolley service (neither was there one during the week)

More to follow
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Unread 19-05-2008, 14:45   #8
Sasha
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Have to say, announcements have to be made after each station + announcements about catering service as well. During the weekends only one staff from catering is working, they should provide trolley service, after bar have to be open, but when is busy could be problem to do bar+trolley in one person as passengers are going to the bar to get tea/coffee/snacks.
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Unread 20-05-2008, 10:02   #9
MrX
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The internal doors not being present is ridiculous. I don't understand why Iarnrod Eireann isn't maintaining them properly. If there's something wrong with them they ought to be fixed, not just locked open. It causes major problems for the air conditioning and allows smells from the toilet to enter the main seating area of the coach.

Also, I wonder if there's any fire safety issue with leaving them open. I wouldn't think they're optional in the design.

Irish Rail have a LONG history of stuck internal doors with the older MK3 coaches where they were almost always locked open.
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Unread 20-05-2008, 10:07   #10
Mark Gleeson
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The partition doors are part of the fire safety mechanism, if the train manager selects the emergency mode the doors are meant to close and the air conditioning intake damper will close as to not suck smoke in or allow it to move through the train

As there are trains in mainland europe which are open end to end without inter coach doors the requirement to actually have the partition doors working may not be essential on the safety list

If you wanted to go through a very long tunnel probably a requirement, the train is specified for that

They are provided to keep the coach quiet and ensure the air conditioning works avoiding the blast of cold air when the external doors open. I think the key problem is the triggering of the doors combined with current accessibility rules
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Unread 20-05-2008, 10:10   #11
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It's still very sloppy not to have them running correctly!
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