Friday 24 March 2017

Christmas Day buses help travellers to beat big freeze

CHRISTMAS FARE: Anne Dunleavy boarding a bus to Donegal at the Busaras in Dublin yesterday
CHRISTMAS FARE: Anne Dunleavy boarding a bus to Donegal at the Busaras in Dublin yesterday
Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

BusAras in Dublin became a last-chance saloon on Christmas Day as Bus Eireann took the unprecedented step of putting on extra services to get people home to family and friends.

Paul Kavanagh and his fiancee Juyeon Lin, who had travelled from South Korea to spend Christmas with Mr Kavanagh's family in Waterford, had been stranded in Prague for days due to bad weather. The couple were supposed to fly to Dublin from Prague on Tuesday but that flight was cancelled. Then on Thursday their expected flight was full. They arrived at Dublin airport late on Christmas Eve and stayed the night at the Fitzwilliam Hotel in the centre of Dublin.

"It's been a nightmare journey but we've made the best of it. I'm just delighted Bus Eireann have put on the extra buses. It means family haven't had to come up in bad conditions to get us. It was hard enough to get a hotel that was open" said Mr Kavanagh.

Dr Anne Dunleavy, who is working in the UK, beat the airport chaos on both sides of the Irish Sea by cycling to catch the ferry to Dublin

"I am just glad to be home," she said as she boarded the coach to Letterkenny, Co Donegal, at around 11am on Christmas morning.

For Inge Van Den Beld it was a bittersweet journey from Dublin to stay with friends in Kilmacanogue, Co Wicklow. Ms Van Den Beld was supposed to be at home in the Netherlands but her initial flights were cancelled and then the last remaining flight home before Christmas, on Christmas Eve, was full.

"I am a little sad. I very much wanted to get home for Christmas," she said.

Odile Almeida and her husband and son, both named Manuel, endured a tortuous journey from Spain to Letterkenny to spend Christmas with another son. The family set off on Thursday but did not arrive at Dublin Airport until 3am on Christmas Day.

As they boarded the Donegal bus, they were hoping to be in the north west in time for a late Christmas dinner.

Overall, transport companies have pulled out all the stops to keep the country moving during the cold snap. Irish Rail had its busiest Christmas in years and rail services in the main were excellent throughout the prolonged cold snap but for some minor delays caused by weather-related technical problems. Bus Eireann also succeeded in keeping provincial buses on the road, while Dublin Bus also coped well with very difficult conditions for the double-decker fleet.

Thousands of people throughout Europe spent Christmas Day away from their families and friends having had their flights delayed on cancelled because of snow and ice.

Sunday Independent

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