Customers rail against the service on Irish trains

Irish Rail customers complain about unexplained delays, high prices and consistent failure of reservation system

Irish Rail has defended its prices, saying they are good value for money when compared with prices elsewhere in the EU

Irish Rail has defended its prices, saying they are good value for money when compared with prices elsewhere in the EU


‘I have asked management to stop paying me a fixed salary and put me on a ‘sorry’ commission instead,” an Irish Rail staff member told Pricewatch recently. “I reckon if I got paid €1 every time I had to apologise for something, I’d be much better off,” he added.

Over the past four months, we have taken intercity trains dozens of times, and, while the Irish Rail service is sometimes exemplary, there have been times when it has not been.

In recent weeks, the reservations system has failed repeatedly, which has led to rows and confusion in the carriages.

Information about what carriages and services are available on certain trains is flaky at best, and we have seen the dining carriage shut down because of random power failures. Delays almost always go unacknowledged and unexplained. Last week, a return fare from Dublin to Cork cost in excess of €70.

Rather than seething alone, we took to Twitter and asked people to share their good and bad experiences of the State’s rail service. The responses were swift and almost uniformly bad.

Their customer service is the worst I’ve ever been unfortunate enough to encounter. @jenniferreapy
To change your ticket to a different train they charge you a tenner! @tcup_purcell
Paying €30 every Friday eve for the train from cork to athlone (when I was in college) and having to sit on my bag on the floor. @keyz757
Sligo-Dublin service is appalling now since part of the line is underwater! Services cancelled! @philipmcourtney
The 7th circle of hell that is Lmk Junction on a wet Wednesday in November. @NessaMcGann
Was on my first train for about 15 years yesterday. clean, no delays, wifi. Dunno what everyone keeps complaining about. @conorobyrne
Almost fainted a few weeks ago, several people came to my aid, offered me water, bananas and to phone home for me! @Louise_Troy
Booking seats online in carriage “D” for example. Train turns up with only carriage A to C. Stuck standing. @colinlenihan
When I was in college, the door of the train opened while in motion and my friend nearly fell out. Guy beside us grabbed her jacket. If that guy hadn’t have been there she was a gon er. @MissEims
Complained once when the couple next to me were making toast from a toaster in a plastic bag. Fire hazard, surely? @jjlangs
They consistently don’t turn on the digital displays above seats, ensuring loads of arguments among punters over booked seats. @CianMcGar
The Dublin-Cork train hit a cow, people got home after midnight from the 4pm train! @littlebirdyy
The CEO Mr Franks is paid €240k a year and the fares have gone from €5.80 to €8.00 a day. The normal Joe s that work for Irish Rail earning minimum wage are genuine people who always have time for customers. @Beaks66
I once had a brief encounter with wifi on the Dublin to Sligo train. It was good while it lasted! @CelebBiach
I paid €20 to reserve the filthiest train seat I’ve ever seen. @sherqui
On Christmas Eve they ran out of tea bags and hot water one hour into the journey Dublin-Westport on a full train. On the Cork to Dublin train they turn off heating so have to sit in a freezing cold carriage for the whole journey. @taloolie

We sent the complaints to Barry Kenny of Irish Rail, who offered a robust defence of the company and said it worked “at all times to ensure we provide the best possible service, and to improve customer service standards”. He also defended its prices, saying they were good value for money when compared with prices elsewhere in the EU.

He said if the reservation system doesn’t function as it is supposed to and an “alternative seat in unavailable, we will refund this”, and added that problems with digital displays above seats was “definitely an area where we need to improve.” He said the company has “achieved 90 per cent operability, but we will focus on ensuring this is far higher”.

He said there were now more than 500,000 wifi user sessions being logged per month, “and the reliability has greatly improved. However, there are issues with mobile network coverage on some sections of the network, and our wifi service provider has been liaising with the mobile network providers to seek improved coverage.”

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