Rail seat booking system 'a shambles' - group


A BODY representing rail users has branded Iarnród Éireann’s reservations system “a shambles” and says the company does not have officials in place to police the system, meaning passengers have to do it themselves.

Rail Users Ireland spokesman Mark Gleeson said passengers’ experience of the reservations system employed by Iarnród Éireann painted a picture of a system in chaos.

Information indicating whether a place is reserved is usually displayed electronically above the seat in question.

Dr Gleeson said these reservations were often not displayed or went suddenly blank after a few stops. In other cases, incorrect reservations were displayed or the reserved seats did not exist, he said.

“Seat reservations are the most basic customer service facility on a long-distance train. Once again Irish Rail is unable to deliver on what the rest of Europe has managed to deliver without a fuss for decades,” Dr Gleeson said.

He said Rail Users Ireland had conducted a survey of eight Rosslare-to-Dublin intercity route trains in the past fortnight, which found that no train had correctly functioning reservations in place. But the problem was “fleet-wide”.

“Irish Rail is unique amongst railways in Europe in that there is no guard, conductor, ticket checker or train manager provided. Elsewhere it is not considered safe to operate a long-distance train without a second trained staff member on board to assist passengers.”

In 2010 Iarnród Éireann published an expression of interest for a replacement seat reservation system on the Government’s eTender website “for the supply and installation of a replacement electronic seat reservation system to be installed on up to 63 train sets (234 vehicles)”.

A spokeswoman for Iarnród Éireann said last night improvements had been carried out on the system in 2010, rendering a replacement system unneccesary. A recent survey had shown 95 per cent of reservation services on inter-city trains were operating correctly, she said.

“By and large we are very happy with the way the seat reservation system works,” she said. However, last minute changes of the train in service could affect the online seat reservation system.

She said the claims made by Rail Users Ireland in relation to the Rosslare line could arise from the low rate of reservations on that service. It may have been the case that no one had reserved the seats.