Irish Rail customers face two more years of overcrowding
State company said it is ‘urgently’ seeking new trains after years of underfunding
Irish Rail said it was ‘urgently looking to place an order for new trains’.
Irish Rail has admitted that customers are facing at least two more years of regular overcrowding on certain services due to a lack of available carriages.
The company apologised for another day of uncomfortable conditions on western services which saw passengers having to stand for up to three hours on their journeys, with excess numbers transferred on to buses.
Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny said the State-owned company was “urgently” seeking to order new trains following years of underfunding since the economic downturn.
Explaining Thursday’s problems, he said: “We have the Post Malone concert on in the RDS. On busy days like this we have all available trains in operation. It wasn’t all services [affected], but it was busy on quite a number of them.
“We’ve also contracted some buses in locations such as Tullamore. It’s another one of many busy days this summer with different events on, but we are doing what we can to spread the demand.”
One passenger on the morning Westport to Dublin train said he counted 29 people standing in an area between the train’s carriages.
“When we got to Athlone, they took them off and they put them on a bus to take them here. After another stop or two it was jammed again,” Kevin Hennigan, from Ballina, said.
“There was an old woman of about 70 beside me and she was actually sitting down on the floor... because she couldn’t stand up. She had to get off in Athlone. She wasn’t able to come to Dublin.”
‘End of 2021’
Mr Kenny said: “We’re urgently looking to place an order for new trains. We’ve seen huge growth, which is obviously very welcome, but since before the economic crisis we haven’t been funded for new trains.”
Mr Kenny said the funding was on the way, but that lead-in times would mean it will be 2021 at the earliest before new trains enter service.
“We’re funded under the National Development Plan,” he said. “There’s an additional 41 carriages initially that we are looking to acquire. That’s going through the National Transport Authority and governmental approval process.
“We hope to confirm that in the coming weeks. But if the order is confirmed next month, the earliest they will enter service is the end of 2021.”