Passengers Brand Irish Rail's Seat Reservation a Shambles
August 19th 2011
Rail Users Ireland today branded Irish Rail's seat reservation system a shambles, that is typical of the lack of customer focus within Irish Rail. Rail Users Ireland has discovered that the system is so unreliable that Irish Rail has sought its replacement, but Irish Rail continues to deny problems with the reservation system and is relying on passengers self policing a broken system.
Rail Users Ireland continues to receive reports of passengers with reservations on crowded trains who find their seats are not marked as reserved, and where a passenger already seated refuses to move as the seats are not marked as reserved.
Dr. Mark Gleeson, spokesperson for Rail Users Ireland said "Irish Rail is unique amongst railways in Europe in that there is no guard, conductor, ticket checker or train manager provided. Elsewhere it is not considered safe to operate a long distance train without a second trained staff member on-board to assist passengers."
Passenger experience tells a story of a system in chaos;
- Reservations not displayed or suddenly blank after the first or second station
- The wrong reservations being displayed, i.e. reservations for a different train later that day
- Seats reserved don't exist
- No first class on train
- Reservations displays switched on after everyone has boarded
- No staff on-board or staff unwilling to assist passenger claiming their reserved seats
Rail Users Ireland conducted a survey of eight Rosslare line trains in the last two weeks and unsurprisingly no trains where found with correctly functioning reservations, only on two of the eight was there some indication that seats might have been reserved.
Rail Users Ireland can now show the system is flawed and suffering from major technical and reliability issues. In 2010 Irish Rail published two tenders related to the seat reservation systems. One seeking "Replacement Seat Reservation System for Rail Vehicles"  and a second to replace the cables which connect the coaches together 
Many intending passengers don't even get as far as the train, as Irish Rail cannot handle reservations for a vast array of destinations due to broken fare structure and a lack of facilities to collect tickets.
Dr. Gleeson said "Seat reservations are the most basic customer service facility on a long distance train. Once again Irish Rail is unable to deliver on what the rest of Europe has managed to deliver without a fuss for decades"
Rail Users Ireland reminds passengers that in addition to the existing 50% refund after 1 hour delay and 100% after 2 hours, passengers holding reservations have additional avenues of refund. Any passenger who encounters any of the following circumstances are entitled to a full refund of the fare paid
- Passenger travels on a different train than that booked due a issue within Irish Rail's control, e.g. train cancellation
- Passenger is left standing for any reason
- Passenger has reserved a first class seat but no first class seats are available
The routine experience of reservations with Irish Rail, nothing to say the seat is reserved. You pay extra and get nothing in return