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-   -   Future of the service = drop in standards (http://www.railusers.ie/forum/showthread.php?t=12106)

davekoolhill 26-02-2010 13:58

Future of the service = drop in standards
 
I have not been on this forum in a long time now and last week I got the Galway train as far as Athlone as I did regularly in the past. However, this time around, I got the new trains, but not even a cup of tea. In the past, I use to enjoy a mixed grill on the way down and it was a pretty good service. Now though, I didn't even get a chance to buy tea off a trolley.

Is this the way IE have gone, and will ever go back to enjoyable journeys.

James Howard 26-02-2010 15:31

That future has long been in the past on the Sligo line. I have fond memories of enjoying the occasional slap-up breakfast in the old comfy first-class car back in the early 90's but its been a long time since there was any hot food on the Sligo line - or a first-class car for that matter.

The coffee has always been rubbish - I usually bring a flask if I think I'm going to want coffee.

sublimity 26-02-2010 16:02

Quote:

Originally Posted by James Howard (Post 54115)
That future has long been in the past on the Sligo line. I have fond memories of enjoying the occasional slap-up breakfast in the old comfy first-class car back in the early 90's but its been a long time since there was any hot food on the Sligo line - or a first-class car for that matter.

The coffee has always been rubbish - I usually bring a flask if I think I'm going to want coffee.

Fairly ironic that with the new trains we don't have hot food or breakfast served on a lot of services.

Sligo needs a dining car, that means a six car set is required. I think it deserves one don't you? Railusers Ireland must lobby this to Irish Rail until it gets one.

James Howard 26-02-2010 16:58

I only travel half-way from Edgeworthstown but I know I would never use it in reality. I rarely even buy coffee from the trolley as it tastes like dishwater. And when you think that they would be in-effect giving up half of a car for something that might sell a dozen meals a trip, that probably isn't the most efficient use of resources. The old dining cars on the Sligo line really were a spectacular waste of space for the amount of business they did.

You would think they might be able to tear a page out of Aer Lingus / Ryanair's book when it comes to serving meals. Aer Lingus can do a reasonably edible breakfast or a Panini in a very limited amount of space. All you really need is a microwave, a panini press thingy and a selection of ready meals in a fridge and you can provide a selection of tasty grub for passengers for very little effort and/or space and at a price that the odd person might spring for.

Back in the 80's the intercity service to Sligo had one or two drivers, a guard, a ticket collector, a cook, a first-class steward, a barman and somebody pushing a trolley. No wonder it used to cost £25 return to Dublin from Edgeworthstown.

If Irish Rail were going dedicate a chunk of a car to alternative uses, as a parent, I would far rather see them put in a play area. Believe or not, these are standard on intercity trains in Finland and included in the (free for under 6's) fare.

sublimity 26-02-2010 17:41

I'm talking about one 6 car set to be used on a busy service like the 11.05 or an evening service to Sligo or Dublin. Limerick has one, Galway has one, Westport has one. Why not Sligo???

James Howard 26-02-2010 19:14

I guess it is a matter of return in investment. A 29k railcar costs roughly 2 million euro, so to use half of a car for a snack unit requires a million euro investment and would require an extra staff member to operate unless they stopped the trolley which is always going to make more money.

When they had a buffet car on the old Sligo intercity all they really sold was drink and sambos which can be sold off the trolley just as easily.

What is peculiar about the Sligo line is that the majority of its traffic is between Longford and Dublin which is just over 90 minutes. Relatively few of those passengers are going to be interested in a hot meal and certainly not at the prices Irish Rail charge for food - and would be necessary to recoup the cost of staffing and investment.

Colm Moore 27-02-2010 03:32

In putting a 6-car unit on the Sligo line, they would need to be able to match it to the busy services and maximise use. Arranging for both those criteria might be difficult.

sublimity 27-02-2010 10:54

It's simple; put a 6 car set on the 11.05 to Sligo and thus the return 15.00 to Dublin. Both are busy services.

Mark Gleeson 27-02-2010 11:02

Travelled on it, its rostered as a 3 car, its hardly busy and the timings don't justify providing any food. 7:00 and 17:05 are the busiest

The trolley can handle the vast majority of needs, the classic 20% of items but they are the 80% most frequently purchased.

I've gone 15+ years since I last ate a meal on a train in Ireland, used the trolley a fair bit.

The only routes where catering does well is where there is first class Dublin Cork and Dublin Belfast because there is volume and business

As far as I have been able to determine, there are more services per week serving breakfast now than anytime in the last 10 years. Massively more services will a trolley as well.

sean 27-02-2010 11:51

Incidentally, Sligo now has (at least) one of the 6 car "Commuter" 22k sets. i.e. intercity railcar 6 car set but no 1st plus catering.

Much as I'd like to see the Sligo line get the best of everything, the first class really is a joke from what I've seen in pics on IRN (different colour tables or somthing), and the catering, well, if there's not enough demand then the catering cars would be better used elsewhere, and the extra carriage of standard seats is better employed here instead.

Colm Moore 27-02-2010 21:53

1 Attachment(s)
It seems to take 4 sets to operate the Sligo service (excluding Dublin-Longford services) with two operating 4 services (2 returns) one operating 3 services and one operating 2 services on any given day. I imagine the rest of the time is used for rotating sets for cleaning and maintenance.
Quote:

Originally Posted by sean (Post 54128)
Incidentally, Sligo now has (at least) one of the 6 car "Commuter" 22k sets. i.e. intercity railcar 6 car set but no 1st plus catering.

Are you sure this isn't a 2x3-car set?

sean 28-02-2010 00:04

Yes, I'm absolutely certain of it: I took the train into Dublin for the AGM and at least going in it was a full 1X6 setup. Unless that was a temporary thing.

Thomas J Stamp 28-02-2010 00:22

Quote:

Originally Posted by davekoolhill (Post 54114)
I have not been on this forum in a long time now and last week I got the Galway train as far as Athlone as I did regularly in the past. However, this time around, I got the new trains, but not even a cup of tea. In the past, I use to enjoy a mixed grill on the way down and it was a pretty good service. Now though, I didn't even get a chance to buy tea off a trolley.

Is this the way IE have gone, and will ever go back to enjoyable journeys.

I used to have the full Irish on the first Dublin Galway Train when I used it for work, train was a ghostown though.

Quote:

Originally Posted by James Howard (Post 54115)
That future has long been in the past on the Sligo line. I have fond memories of enjoying the occasional slap-up breakfast in the old comfy first-class car back in the early 90's but its been a long time since there was any hot food on the Sligo line - or a first-class car for that matter.

The coffee has always been rubbish - I usually bring a flask if I think I'm going to want coffee.

Quote:

Originally Posted by sublimity (Post 54116)
Fairly ironic that with the new trains we don't have hot food or breakfast served on a lot of services.

Sligo needs a dining car, that means a six car set is required. I think it deserves one don't you? Railusers Ireland must lobby this to Irish Rail until it gets one.

AFAIR Irish Rail made a great play of saying there would be a full six car set on the Sligo line when they phased out the Mark 2's on it.

My personal view is that the provision of an actual proper dining car was one of the hidden gems of the service, a selling point that should have been more strongly utilised, but the end reality was overpriced basic deep fried-centric food.

PLUMB LOCO 28-02-2010 12:23

Quote:

Originally Posted by James Howard (Post 54117)
I only travel half-way from Edgeworthstown but I know I would never use it in reality. I rarely even buy coffee from the trolley as it tastes like dishwater. And when you think that they would be in-effect giving up half of a car for something that might sell a dozen meals a trip, that probably isn't the most efficient use of resources. The old dining cars on the Sligo line really were a spectacular waste of space for the amount of business they did.

You would think they might be able to tear a page out of Aer Lingus / Ryanair's book when it comes to serving meals. Aer Lingus can do a reasonably edible breakfast or a Panini in a very limited amount of space. All you really need is a microwave, a panini press thingy and a selection of ready meals in a fridge and you can provide a selection of tasty grub for passengers for very little effort and/or space and at a price that the odd person might spring for.

Back in the 80's the intercity service to Sligo had one or two drivers, a guard, a ticket collector, a cook, a first-class steward, a barman and somebody pushing a trolley. No wonder it used to cost £25 return to Dublin from Edgeworthstown.

If Irish Rail were going dedicate a chunk of a car to alternative uses, as a parent, I would far rather see them put in a play area. Believe or not, these are standard on intercity trains in Finland and included in the (free for under 6's) fare.


Is there any point in me trying to address some of the issues raised above since you have so much mis-information in your post? Catering, or the lack of, has been been one of my hobby horses for decades but your points about the Sligo line are factually incorrect.
To start with there was no 1st class available on the Sligo route in the 1980s - therefore no 1st class steward and there was only one driver. As regards catering, due to poor organisation there was frequently only one person to staff the dining car and consequently no trolley service. The level of catering was frequently no more than tea/coffee/sandwiches and a specially dry inedible fruitcake - the latter a product of years of research at Inchicore. :D

I remember for a period in the early 1980's a full 60ft kitchen car operating on the Sligo route but the only service available was the sole operative carrying a tray up and down the train. It is only in recent years that alcohol and minerals have been available from the trolley. Before that one had to battle the length of the train to buy minerals or alcohol from the dining car - if it were open! Even where proper dining facilities were available (Dublin/Cork and Dublin/Belfast) the prices were/are astronomic and a disincentive to partake. A high level of dishonesty was later discovered amongst the poorly paid dining car staff and many of them were sacked in the late 1980's and this says it all about the whole sloppy operation. The present overpriced joke operated by Rail Gourmet won't last much longer, and the whole concept needs to revamped but it won't happen as long as CIE operate the trains.

ccos 28-02-2010 13:20

Has anyone tried DB catering on German IC trains, it operates at a good standard, they also have casual guys (& gals) with a small easy to manouvre trolly of drinks and snacks that get on and get off at different stations along the way.

Maybe they could give rail gourmet a few tips on how its done

Thomas Ralph 28-02-2010 15:49

Quote:

Originally Posted by ccos (Post 54138)
Has anyone tried DB catering on German IC trains

Yes, it's even more expensive than IÉ (€3 for a coffee).

ThomasJ 28-02-2010 17:11

apologies for going off topic and sounding like a trainspotter but years ago on the evening pearse to longford train that was operated by cravens i remember one night seeing shutters dowm in a compartment that looked like a shop. Were there shop facilities on all the cravens?

Getting back to more modern times, what is the latest on the 22ks with the dining cars? What routes will they be appearing on?

ThomasJ 28-02-2010 17:14

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thomas Ralph (Post 54139)
Yes, it's even more expensive than IÉ (€3 for a coffee).

likewise with the dutch rail service

PLUMB LOCO 28-02-2010 18:08

Quote:

Originally Posted by ThomasJ (Post 54140)
apologies for going off topic and sounding like a trainspotter but years ago on the evening pearse to longford train that was operated by cravens i remember one night seeing shutters dowm in a compartment that looked like a shop. Were there shop facilities on all the cravens?

Getting back to more modern times, what is the latest on the 22ks with the dining cars? What routes will they be appearing on?


Never even seen a 22000 diner but I can just imagine!! However, there were two Cravens fitted out with a 'compartment' at one end - one used to be regular on Irish Traction Group railtours. They were Nos.1508 and 1509 built in 1963 and, I think, were open standards originally with the snack bar added near the end of their working lives. They ran on B4 bogies. Surely enough info for any trainspotter? :D

Colm Moore 28-02-2010 21:54

There is a tendency to have first class at one end of the train (the Dublin end?) and to have the dining car next to it. Might it be better to have the dining car more centrally located and better available to all? This may have the disadvantage of inconvenience to first class (whether through a longer walk to the dining car or passengers passing through first class).

PLUMB LOCO 28-02-2010 22:56

That's precisely why the 1st class carriage has always been marshalled with the dining car between it and the standard class carriages. Apart from the difficulties that would be caused by moving the catering away from the one part of the train where they still do some business, having a continuous flow of passengers walking through 1st class would disturb the ambience for people paying extra for peace and quiet to work or relax. The way things are going CIE will kill off the demand for 1st class travel at about the same time that Rail Gourmet throws in the towel with rail catering.

When dining cars first evolved they were divided in half by a partition with door - 1st class diners in one end and 2nd/3rd in the other - this continued on right into the 1950s CIE built dining cars. Incidentally, these were the last dining cars to be well thought out and everything else since has been dreadful. The De Dietrich dining cars should win an award for bad design.

Thomas J Stamp 01-03-2010 11:29

Quote:

Originally Posted by PLUMB LOCO (Post 54142)
Never even seen a 22000 diner but I can just imagine!!

its not really a dining carraige, it is just the shop.

anyhow, lets not get into too technical details in this thread.

Basic Questions should centre around catering being of a good standard/affordable and if there is a proper range of catering - that sort of thing.

Mark Gleeson 01-03-2010 11:36

The 22k,Mk4 and DD coaches all have a full kitchen on those trains with first class. So any train with first class in the morning or evening peak has food

The problem is, first class usage is in free fall as companies shift business travel to standard or stop traveling altogether. There simply isn't the money to spend on food and the first class fares paid for the catering overheads of providing the food.

ACustomer 01-03-2010 14:11

I don't have the exact details, but surely price has a lot to do with the decrease in 1st class patronage. The markup over standard (€20?) appears to be much the same for all journeys: this might be OK Dublin-Cork at peak times, but it's a huge premium to pay for Dublin-Waterford, or for an off-peak ticket, even to Cork.

Traditionally 2st class was 50% premium over 2nd/3rd. I have a feeling that the premium is now effectively 100% for many journeys. And while the financial premium has increased, the comfort premium has drastically diminished.

A classic case of zero martketing awareness. I am sure that there is money to be made fro offering premium services if you give it a bit of thought.

sean 01-03-2010 15:22

Quote:

Originally Posted by ccos (Post 54138)
Has anyone tried DB catering on German IC trains, it operates at a good standard, they also have casual guys (& gals) with a small easy to manouvre trolly of drinks and snacks that get on and get off at different stations along the way.

Maybe they could give rail gourmet a few tips on how its done

Ah yes, the BordRestaraunt. I still remember the 1l glass bottle of water, massive ham, mayo and onion baguette and KitKat chunky, all for a very reasonable €7. That was about 5 years ago when I was in Germany.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ACustomer (Post 54164)
I don't have the exact details, but surely price has a lot to do with the decrease in 1st class patronage. The markup over standard (€20?) appears to be much the same for all journeys: this might be OK Dublin-Cork at peak times, but it's a huge premium to pay for Dublin-Waterford, or for an off-peak ticket, even to Cork.

Perhaps there is some value in 1st class on the Cork (CAF trainsets) and Belfast (DD sets) (I'm not familiar with them, nor what distinguishes their 1st class seats from the normal seats, so I cannot be sure) but from what I've seen in pics, the 1st class on the 22ks is very much 1st class in name only.

I specifically recall from the Mark 2 days in the 1990s on the Sligo line there were first class carriages at some times and the seats were different at least the decor was more grand (e.g. carpet vs. lino flooring), and at least some of the seats were in a 2+1 configuration, i.e. wider seats with 2 on one side of the isle and only 1 on the other, but I think they were airplane seats from the 1970s.

James Howard 01-03-2010 18:15

There was first class accommodation on the Sligo line up until 1994 at least - I used to regularly pay the £3 one way supplement on a student fare and get dirty looks from the 2 or 3 suits using it as they expected me to have a row with the ticket collector and leave given I was a grubby student at the time. I didn't really use the train regularly between 1995 and 2003 so I couldn't swear as to when it went away.

I think the steward disappeared somewhere around 1990. The accommodation was a lot better than standard at the time. There was a half car of 2+1 seating with a rather dirty carpet - the main benefit was the relativel level of silence due to the carpet and the lack of rows over games of 25, etc that went on at the time. Once the steward went, there wasn't much point in having it as the ticket collector would rarely get up as far as that car on the (1815 it was then) Friday evening service before Longford so you quite often didn't have to pay at all - let alone pay the extra. I am sure there might have been the odd student who used to buy a single from Sidney Parade into Connolly and take their chance with having to buy the fare on the train but that kind of dishonesty would have never crossed my mind.

I had a hot breakfast on a Sligo train in first class somewhere around 1992 - I can't be exactly sure when but I remember getting a rather posh-looking shiny teapot and tray brought to my table. It was nice but not terribly worth the £12 or so they charged at the time. I only did it once.

davekoolhill 03-03-2010 12:01

first class and dining..
 
so sligo DID have a first class and meal service (both breakfast and dinner) on those really old intercitys with the leather seats.

I remember mid 90's IE used to market their meals with the TV ad's (intercity....going faster everyday) and you would see a lad getting served a meal in the dining car..

What other routes had the first class and meals service? did rosslare ever have it...

Mark Gleeson 03-03-2010 13:17

There were a limited number of Mk2 coaches with first class, it wasn't until the mid 1990's that the coaches lost the first class in favour of standard

On rare occasions the Dublin Belfast sets of both NIR and IE made it to Rosslare as did a Mk3 set once or twice

PLUMB LOCO 04-03-2010 10:30

Quote:

Originally Posted by davekoolhill (Post 54201)
so sligo DID have a first class and meal service (both breakfast and dinner) on those really old intercitys with the leather seats.

I remember mid 90's IE used to market their meals with the TV ad's (intercity....going faster everyday) and you would see a lad getting served a meal in the dining car..

What other routes had the first class and meals service? did rosslare ever have it...

My memory and that of James Howard differ on the level of service provided on the Sligo line - I never in all my years of travelling on the the route 1977/98 can recall 1st class in operation let alone meal services at your seat. While the late introduction of MkII vehicles onto the Sligo and Rosslare routes saw the use of some composite 1st/Standard vehicles they were only ever used as standard class - in my memory - and unquestionably on the Rosslare route! The Rosslare route had full catering and 1st class in the 1950's and early 1960s (I think?) - the Harcourt St/Rosslare trains had full dining facilities and I think that those starting from Pearse (Westland Row) did not. :)

dowlingm 04-03-2010 17:18

6 cars are going to be at a premium now because of the two scrapped sets and the one that was broken by the split point incident in Portlaoise. Waterford is also being stuck with 3 car sets so it's not like Sligo is special - except if you count refusing Mark 3s...

Maybe it's time for Sligo County Council to tell its TDs - after the current PSO period is up we can live without Sligo airport's commercial services with its constrained runway, its ecologically sensitive to an extension hinterland and its horrific website on a direct understanding that the PSO money saved by not renewing can go towards rail line speed/passing loop upgrades to reduce journey time and thus the likelihood of starving to death between leaving home and Connolly.

Edit: apparently extending SXL will cost EUR10m

sublimity 04-03-2010 20:27

Quote:

Originally Posted by dowlingm (Post 54235)
6 cars are going to be at a premium now because of the two scrapped sets and the one that was broken by the split point incident in Portlaoise. Waterford is also being stuck with 3 car sets so it's not like Sligo is special - except if you count refusing Mark 3s...

Maybe a couple of the mk3 sets could be reinstated onto some lines???
Wishful thinking maybe but it is a solution.

Cork shouldn't have the 22ks. They have mk4s, yes i know some are in Inchicore at the moment but really the mk3s should be filling the void, not 22ks.

Thomas J Stamp 04-03-2010 23:36

Quote:

Originally Posted by sublimity (Post 54238)
Maybe a couple of the mk3 sets could be reinstated onto some lines???
Wishful thinking maybe but it is a solution.

Cork shouldn't have the 22ks. They have mk4s, yes i know some are in Inchicore at the moment but really the mk3s should be filling the void, not 22ks.

it should not be wishful thinking, there is no reason why it should not be done

dowlingm 05-03-2010 20:38

I've started to think recently that splitting IE into a TOC and a network operator (per EU directive) isn't enough - the entire IE fleet should be flogged to Angel Trains or similar and leased back. At least with the greedy private sector involved the assets will be well sweated before scrappage!

Thomas Ralph 05-03-2010 21:15

Having seen the consequences of privatization in Great Britain, I rather doubt I would like to see that happen here.

dowlingm 06-03-2010 13:21

Note TR I didn't mean privatisation as a given there. Just that there be complete separation of the entities with the exception of the leasing entity which would mostly likely be private but could also offer 1600mm stock to NIR with the usual changes of safety gear. Repeating the mistake of Railtrack and the renationalisation into Network Rail is not what I had in mind.

ccos 10-03-2010 22:42

Quote:

likewise with the dutch rail service
you can get coffee on a dutch train:eek: Its not that guy in the ghostbusters suit?????


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