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Rail Passengers Left Delayed, Frustrated and Standing

November 18th 2010

Rail commuters have suffered and continue to suffer from an unprecedented level of delay on all routes on a daily basis. Despite having a multitude of means to communicate with passengers, invariably there is no notice to be found at any station. This is not unexpected, after all Irish Rail don't like to admit there failings.

While Irish Rail as always attempt to excuse these delays due to Autumn leaves however a large number of temporary speed restrictions[1], impossible timetables and unmotivated staff are equally responsible for the ongoing serious delays to services.

Irish Rail has failed to adopt industry best practice in dealing with the Autumn leaves problem. Despite a virtually unlimited supply of funding over the last 10 years Irish Rail does not own a single train capable of cleaning rails. High pressure washing is the accepted best practice across Europe.

Adding to commuters woes is the reduction in length of some trains in Dublin from 8 to 6 coaches in a desperate move to provide trains to operate the new Dunboyne line. Waterford - Dublin commuters are left 3 coaches short each Monday morning Intercity type trains are frequently used for heavily loaded commuter services resulting in delays and discomfort. Irish Rail continue to deny there is a shortage of trains and refuse to make use of over 100 intercity carriages lying idle.

Mark Gleeson spokesperson RUI highlighted the basic failings. Irish Rail keep neglecting the basics:

1. Trains are routinely late leaving their starting station for no reason.
2. An inability to get the trains doors closed quickly.
3. Trains displaying wrong destinations leaving passengers confused.
4. A timetable which by design guarantees delays.
5. A failure to communicate in a clear and timely fashion as to delays and alterations

Rail Users Ireland has met with the National Transport Authority and conveyed a list of concerns as to poor and inconsistent performance, highlighting inconsistencies between Irish Rail's claims and the actual service on the ground. Mark Gleeson, spokesperson RUI, "The reliability and punctuality posters seen at stations are an insult to the intelligence of rail passengers who only too easily recall trains being cancelled or broken down while Irish Rail claim 100% of services ran as planned"

Commuters travelling home to Kilkenny and Longford must endure 10-15 minute delays on a nightly basis, Portlaoise commuters are faced with a lottery as to which train will be short several carriages. The Maynooth line is plagued with signalling faults while DART punctuality has fallen to all time low, with 30% of DART services now delayed by more than 5 minutes during October/November 2010[2], with few if any trains are actually 'on-time'.

Mark Gleeson, spokesperson RUI gave some examples "The 07:40 Malahide - Dun Laoghaire service has been more than 5 minutes late every weekday for the last 6 weeks, with an average delay of 10 minutes, with the worst delay of over 23 minutes. Both the 10:00 Greystones - Howth & 06:30 Dundalk - Bray are an average of 9 minutes late each day. Dublin - Belfast services are subject to frequent delay and breakdown. This level of routine delay is inexcusable and highlights Irish Rail's inability to deliver a consistent quality service."

Mark Gleeson spokesperson RUI highlighted the massively better experience commuters in Northern Ireland have, with less than 1 in 20 trains delayed by 5 minutes and an entitlement to discounts on monthly tickets if performance fails to meet strict targets[3]. The Irish Government conveniently sought an exemption from EU regulations to protect Irish Rail from such customer focused requirements.

Should Irish Rail continue to deliver such a woeful service, with the arrival of the National Transport Authority and several expressions of interest from international rail companies to operate services in Ireland following the closure of the Waterford - Rosslare line there now exists a credible mechanism to replace Irish Rail with an operator with a demonstrated ability to provide a better passenger experience while at the same time offering to do so for less state subsidy.

[1] Castlebellingham north of Drogheda, Laytown (bridge), Greystones, Shankill, Dun Laoghaire (track condition)
[2] http://www.railusers.ie/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=1271&d=1289678854
[3] http://www.translink.co.uk/Corporate/About-Us/Plans--Reports/Delay-Repay-Compensation-Scheme/

Last Updated: November 25 2010 16:32:56
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