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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).


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