The reality of rail travel

Sir, – I travelled from Cork to Dublin by train on Friday afternoon. The automatic ticket machine didn’t work in Cork, the doors to four of the toilets on the train were stuck in an open position, making them either unusable or, if one chose to, required a willingness to sacrifice basic privacy. When we got to Dublin, the ticket checking machines were turned off so that everyone could get out of the station.

It wasn’t much better coming back on Saturday afternoon. The air in the carriages was redolent with the smell from the toilets, a fragrance that was oppressive and not one to which you would willingly submit yourself. The announcements on the train said that it was departing at 5pm and that the first stop would be Limerick Junction. The train actually left at 5.05pm and stopped at five stations before it got to Limerick Junction. When we got to Cork the same problem arose with the ticket machines. They failed to recognise tickets and so had to be opened by a worker in the station.

There was little in this experience that would encourage me to use the trains again or to recommend them to others, but a more fundamental question is whether Iarnród Éireann is fit for purpose. Why, given the level of public investment in it, is it so inefficient at a time when it is essential that we have a functioning public transport system? – Yours, etc,