Originally Posted by James Howard
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.
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.