Wednesday 26 July 2017

Commuters: pay up and shut up - your views don't matter

The rail managers want to have DARTs run every 10 minutes, but this will have a major knock-on effect on commuter rail services and the intercity link to Belfast. Pic Frank Mc Grath
The rail managers want to have DARTs run every 10 minutes, but this will have a major knock-on effect on commuter rail services and the intercity link to Belfast. Pic Frank Mc Grath
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Who calls the shots in Ireland? Well, not the people who pay the bills. That conclusion is hard to avoid when you consider public transport.

Rail regulator the National Transport Authority (NTA), recently sought views from Iarnrod Eireann users on major changes to the service.

The rail managers want to have DARTs run every 10 minutes, but this will have a major knock-on effect on commuter rail services and the intercity link to Belfast.

Iarnrod Eireann has proposed increasing the DART weekday frequency from every 15 minutes currently to every 10 minutes.

The changes affect around 110,000 commuters. A public consultation process, seeking the views of commuters, was put in place by the NTA.

These changes were due to be implemented by now, but rail unions took umbrage, balloting for strike on the timetable alterations.

Unions are arguing that the higher frequency could not be operated with existing resources and have raised productivity issues.

This prompted the postponement of the implementation of the changes.

Meanwhile, the consultation process is not complete yet, as all the submissions have yet to be analysed.

Some 2,359 submissions were received by the NTA from individuals and organisations, it said.

Despite the fact that the consultation process is still to be completed, some decisions have already been made, it seems.

Iarnrod Eireann said in a statement last week that the revised Connolly Station schedules, including the 10-minute DART frequency, and revisions of intercity and commuter services, will be implemented on Sunday, April 10.

This is despite admitting that it and the National Transport Authority are still reviewing customer feedback from the consultation process.

What is clear from this is that the changes will be made once the unions are on side.

What a sham. Never mind the views of those who pay for the service.

Asked about this, the NTA said that while Iarnrod Eireann has announced when changes are likely to be implemented, the decision on what those changes will be remains to be made by it.

But this precludes the possibility that the majority of those who made a submission don't want the changes.

It seems the changes ARE going ahead, what is being argued about now is when.

Given that it is not unusual for a suburban commuter to have to pay €1,400 for an annual ticket, shouldn't the views of the travelling public count for something?

Sunday Indo Business

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