Irish Rail apologises after passengers were ‘unable to social distance’

Dublin-Belfast service ‘had higher than anticipated demand’, company says

Irish Rail has apologised to passengers who travelled on its Dublin to Belfast Enterprise service on Saturday, after complaints it was so "jam-packed" that people were unable to socially distance amid fears of contracting coronavirus.

One passenger, who contacted The Irish Times, said the 11:20am train “was so busy” that staff “actively prevented people from social distancing by making all the seats available”.

In a recording of an on-board announcement, an employee of Translink – Northern Ireland's public transport operator which runs the cross-border Enterprise service with Irish Rail – warned more passengers would be getting on and they would have to share the limited space.

“I know you don’t want them there but unfortunately there is very little we can do,” the announcer said.


A number of passengers complained on Twitter about the conditions.

One said of the service: “No enforcement of mask wearing and passengers jam packed. Surely there is something that can be done to prevent this? Sell less tickets maybe?!”

Another wrote: “social distancing!!! come look at the lack of control your staff are showing on the Dublin to Belfast train ..”

Another said that “mandatory” mask-wearing compliance is “farcical, even amongst staff.”.

“Suggest you get signs teaching people their noses need covered too,” she added.

Barry Kenny, corporate communications manager for Irish Rail, apologised for the “capacity issues”.

“While the overwhelming majority of services have operated within the 50 per cent capacity, this service did see higher than anticipated demand, and we apologise for the capacity issues faced,” he said.

“While we facilitate customers switching to subsequent services in such a situation, there was a gap from 11.20hrs to 15.20hrs for the next departure under the current revised schedule.

“We are resuming full Enterprise services from Monday 31st August. Face coverings are mandatory on our services to protect customers and employees, including where distancing issues arise.”