Once again rail customers have been left in limbo by the current bout of disruption.
May 23rd 2008
Rail passengers, particularly in Cork and Kerry have suffered from a patchy service at best since Christmas as a result of shortage of drivers. These numerous cancellations were often not communicated to the intending passenger. Now, action taken by Irish Rail management in Cork on Thursday morning has made an already bad situation worse. Rail Users Ireland questions this action as it led to the suspension of all services in the Cork area leaving many thousands stranded with absolutely no notice given and resulted in further disruption elsewhere today.
The issues at hand date back to the so called 'New Deal for Locomotive Drivers' agreed in 2000. Irish Rail management and unions, through the mediation of Phil Flynn, agreed to address a long list of issues. In the resultant letter signed by Phil Flynn on May 17th 2006, the various issues raised were given deadlines of between 2 and 5 weeks to complete. Those talks are still on going, nearly 2 years on. This is utterly unacceptable and typically the customers are the ones who suffer most because of these internal wrangles.
The drivers have offered to immediately return to work should their colleague at the centre of the current disruption be reinstated, Irish Rail don't seem in any hurry to accept this and restore the majority of services. Rail Users Ireland reminds Irish Rail Management that they are obliged to provide a public transport service in line with the service level agreements in place with the Department of Transport.
Once again the passenger suffers. Irish Rail is accountable to no one, the passenger has no interest as to the cause of the disruption. We pay our fare in good faith that the service as printed in the timetable will be offered. When the service isn't offered or is otherwise disrupted management are unanswerable and unaccountable to no one. There are no independently set and monitored standards unlike elsewhere in Europe, there is no incentive to improve nor any sanction if the service degrades yet further.
In light of Irish Rail's clear and continuing inability to provide the timetabled service since December 13th 2007, we call on the Minister for Transport to immediately introduce a system that awards improvements in standards and punishes failures to provide a service. It is clear that there is no incentive available to Irish Rail management to provide a proper service let alone one that encourages management to think twice when considering human resource managment.
The key should be "how will this affect passengers" not "how will this affect our policies"
We call upon both sides to put the passengers first and to such steps to do so which allows trains to run immediately.