Irish Rail accused of reducing services with ‘unstaffed stations’

Rail company says automation has given it the chance to improve staff deployment

Politicians  in north Dublin have complained that  local Dart stations are being progressively ‘unmanned’. File photograph: Dave Meehan

Politicians in north Dublin have complained that local Dart stations are being progressively ‘unmanned’. File photograph: Dave Meehan

 

Irish Rail has said there is nothing secretive about its plans to redeploy staff from train stations making them mobile customer service agents travelling from hubs along the network to assist passengers.

The company was commenting in response to complaints from elected representatives in north Dublin that their local Dart stations were being progressively “unmanned” with the ending of a permanent staff being available at Clongriffin from Saturday.

Solidarity councillor Michael O’Brien called on Irish Rail to “come clean to travelling public on unmanned stations”. Mr O’Brien said Irish Rail had “failed to properly communicate such intentions to the travelling public.

“Specifically it has been confirmed to me that as of tomorrow Clongriffin Station will be unmanned and instead staff will be primarily based in designated ‘hub’ stations who will come out to the likes of Clongriffin to respond to situations as required.”

Mr O’Brien said the move would be “greeted by commuters with dismay”.

“As matters stand a number of suburban stations are already largely unstaffed or understaffed including Harmonstown and Kilbarrack.” he said.

Mr O’Brien said Clongriffin was “a particularly busy station serving a new and growing community with further significant increases in local population to come”.

“It has already unfortunately been the site of some very serious incidents of anti-social behaviour putting staff and customers in danger. The National Bus and Rail Union has been waging a campaign for special measures to ensure staff and customer safety in response to these incidents,” he said.

Mr O’Brien said he had organised a public meeting in Clongriffin for next Monday night to “galvanise a response from the community and force Irish Rail to reconsider”.

A spokesman for Irish Rail said plans to redeploy staff from full time bases in all stations had been announced as far back as 2017.

Barry Kenny said Irish Rail announced it was planning to improve its customer services to ensure more customers receive the support and service required, as routine ticketing becomes more automated. A detailed announcement was made in 2017 and in January 2018 when a Dart accessibility improvement pilot initiative was launched.