Luas lines for some, walls for others
July 15th 2011
Rail Users Ireland today welcomes the official confirmation of the roll out of WIFI on Dublin - Cork rail services. While the provision of WIFI is extremely welcome and provides a significant added value, providing a selling point it alone is not a silver bullet that will solve the vast problems faced by rail passengers.
Mark Gleeson, spokesperson RUI, "It is important not to get carried away, while the provision of WIFI is extremely welcome and no doubt will increase passenger numbers it will do nothing to address the lack of information and customer service. Unless Irish Rail get the basics of information and customer service right any investment in WIFI is worthless. Irish Rail needs to focus on the traditional basics of running a railway in terms of good quality timely information, value for money and a timetable which delivers a competitive service at attractive times."
For far too long Irish Rail's strategy has been to pour money at the problem and to buy lots of shiney hardware in a hope that the problem will go away. Despite 1.5 billion euro in new track and trains the core complaints remain; poor information, disinterested staff and a fare structure which defies any logical analysis, all problems resolvable through better training, better supervision and management hich can be held to account.
Rail Users Ireland is extremely concerned that no mention has been made of providing WIFI on Dublin - Belfast Enterprise services despite representations made through the North South body supported by business and academic interests North and South, including passenger representatives from Northern Ireland and Rail Users Ireland. Rail Users Ireland seeks the urgent roll out of WIFI on Dublin - Belfast Enterprise services.
The technology also allows the train's onboard systems to 'phone home' - this allows technical problems to be detected and resolved remotely this whichshould result in improved reliability and fewer delays. Onboard CCTV could also be viewed live.
Based on information released by Irish Rail, Rail Users Ireland understands that 18 train-sets (127 coaches) in total will be fitted this year, sufficient for all services in the timetable shown as having first class to have WIFI in place by year end, this will provide a WIFI on most peak hour Dublin Limerick/Tralee/Waterford/Galway services as well as all Dublin Cork services.
However passengers continue to suffer from disjointed planning within Irish Rail, Dublin - Cork might now have WIFI but the trains do not have power sockets in standard class, which means for many they cannot get maximum value from the WIFI. Rail Users Ireland calls for the urgent refit at least one standard class coach in each of the 8 Dublin Cork train-sets with power sockets. Passengers on other routes suffer from defective power sockets. The Rail Safety Commission has indicated to Rail Users Ireland that all 8,000 sockets on the Intercity Railcar fleet will be replaced as they fail to trip out correctly under certain fault conditions.
Give the dire state of Irish Rail's financial position the roll out of WIFI should be balanced with money spent on more practical measures such as providing on - train staff and customer service training. Provision of WIFI on commuter services seems misguided when at peak hour trains are frequently overcrowded to such a degree that passengers struggle to get sufficient elbow room to answer their phones. Provision of extra trains and better reliability are a far greater priority for many commuters.