Sunday 25 September 2016

Commuter chaos: 'Significant delays' in aftermath of train drivers' strike

* All rail services have resumed but are experiencing delays
* Irish Rail says its service 'should' be back to normal 'around 11am'
* Taxsaver Customers can apply for a refund
* Further industrial action is planned for Friday, November 6
* Dublin Bus: 'Commuters should expect our services to be busier than normal'
* AA Roadwatch are warning motorists to expect heavy traffic
* Merchants Quay in Dublin city remains closed after a serious traffic accident'

Published 23/10/2015 | 02:30

The stoppage began at 6 o'clock this morning
The stoppage began at 6 o'clock this morning
NBRU chief Dermot O'Leary
Ciara Ryan (19) from Offaly: I'm in college in Dublin and getting the train home to Offaly for the weekend. It's tough for people but if the workers feel they have to do it, then it's fair."
Conor Grant (20), Portmarnock, Dublin: "I don't really know much about the strike but I can't get to college tomorrow at NCI, so that's a bit of a pain. I have to use Dublin Bus. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Kathleen Fortune (25), Enniscorthy, Co Wexford: "It will really affect people going to work. I'm getting the train on a once-off (now) so I don't care about the rail strike." Photo: Caroline Quinn

Major travel delays remain following the end of a three-hour rail strike after talks between Irish Rail and its drivers broke down just before midnight last night.

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Iarnród Éireann are advising commuters that while normal service have resumed from 9 am, there will be disruptions to its services until at least midday.

The stoppage, which affected all rail, Dart and inter-city services began at 6 o'clock this morning and continued until 9am - the peak times for commuters.

Significant delays are being experienced across the country’s travel network, and motorists are being advised to leave early this morning as AA Roadwatch are warning of increased rush hour traffic due to the train strike.

“We advising motorists to leave additional time for journeys with heavier than usual traffic volumes,” a spokesperson said.

Some 40,000 travellers were disrupted by the cancellation of rail services this morning.

Read More: Hailo says demand for app up 25pc during train strike

The situation was not help after Merchants Quay in Dublin city was closed following a serious traffic accident.

A man in his 20s is being treated in hospital after being seriously injured after he became trapped under a truck

The pedestrian was struck by a 40-foot articulated lorry and became trapped under it at around 6.50am.

He was taken to St James’ Hospital by ambulance.

Garda said the road remains closed to facilitate a forensic collision examination.

"It will remain closed for at least 11 am," they added.

Anyone witnessing the incident has been asked to contact the Kevin Street Garda station on 01 6669400.

Dublin City Council Traffic Management & Incident Centre warned motorists to avoid the area, saying that all South Quays along the River Liffey were blocked due to heavy congestion.

"This is due to an ongoing Garda investigation," they added.

There were also traffic disruptions following a series of collisions on the M50 and N7.

These have all been cleared, as has a crash outside the Port Tunnel in Dublin.

Read More: #Irish Rail strike: Have your say - how will the strike affect you?

Irish Rail has apologised to the "tens of thousands" of customers who faced disruption and warned the stoppage could have a knock-on effect on services later today, with delays to trains and cancellations continuing through the morning and into the afternoon.

"Visit www.irishrail.ie for updates," it tweeted.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, SIPTU's Paul Cullen defend this morning's strike - saying that measures proposed by the unions such as a reduction in the working week had been completely rejected by management.

"We've been sitting in the WRC on the basis that it would be all encompassing productivity, both future and past productivity. Both agendas would be addressed, " Mr Cullen said.

"Our agenda has failed to be addressed because the company were quite happy to run out and decide, well this is what we're going to put out now in regard to future productivity and forget about the past," he added.

Iarnród Éireann spokesperson Barry Kenny said the company had made it very clear to trade unions that the cost of today's disruption would have to be recovered.

He told Morning Ireland that the "best offer was on the table" and rejected claims that a pay-increase proposal of 7.9 pc in return for more efficient rostering was an attempt to try drive a wedge between unions and the drivers.

Read More: Man (20s) hospitalised after he became trapped under articulated lorry in Dublin's city centre

Further industrial action is planned for Friday, November 6.

Irish Rail customers who booked online to travel during the hours of disruption on Friday can use their tickets on any of the following services and no surcharge will apply:

  • Friday 23rd October, at a later time
  • Saturday 24th October, at any time

Other information includes:

  • Customers can also submit their ticket and receive a full refund.
  • Customers who purchase their tickets at the station who were impacted by the industrial action should collect a refund form at the station or download a refund form and apply to Customer Care, Iarnród Éireann, Connolly Station, Dublin 1.
  • Taxsaver Customers can apply for a refund if their travel plans were impacted by the Industrial Action. We would advise customers impacted on the 23rd October to apply from Tuesday 27th October onwards, through this Taxsaver form.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, many commuters admitted to having been taken by surprise  by the strike.

"We were to head back home to Laios for work this evening but I'm not sure we'll make it now," said Aisling, a student living in Cork.

“We weren't following the news so we didn't know about the strike.

"We got up at six because I wanted to get the early train home. We’re very annoyed now. Tired as well – we’re going to have to get the later train at 1pm as it’s the only way we can get home."

Several other commuters said they too were unaware that a three hour stoppage was taking place.

“I’ve got to get to work and now I can’t, I’ve no idea how I’m suppose to get there now,” said one frustrated worker.

“I heard something about it last night but I never even thought about it."

Dublin Bus said passengers intending to use its services should allow extra travel time, while Bus Éireann warned it would not have access to additional drivers or vehicles over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Read More: Commuter chaos: Talks collapse, rail strike set for Friday morning

Dublin Bus said its full fleet would be deployed during the morning peak time, adding that people should expect its services "to be busier than normal".

"We are not in a position to honour Irish Rail tickets on our services during this period of industrial action," a spokesperson added.

Some private bus operators have increased capacity and have been permitted to provide additional services.

The crunch talks aimed at ending the increasingly bitter dispute between management at the company and the unions representing striking workers - the National Bus and Rail Union and Siptu - resumed around midday yesterday and broke down at around 11.30pm.

Dermot O'Leary, NBRU general secretary, lay the blame at the feet of the company.

"It is unfortunate that it took until the eleventh hour for the real company agenda to emerge. They continuously and quite deliberately chose to ignore our members' agenda in relation to past contributions," he said.

"This, coupled with their excessive expectations in relation to future productivity, far exceeded their public position of attending at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to do a deal to prevent disruption to services - all designed, we feel, to provoke our members to the point where they now feel that they have no option but to engage in industrial action [today]."

Photo: #Irish Rail strike: Have your say - how will the strike affect you?

Irish Rail said unions had been seeking a shorter working week, which would have cost the company an additional €2.75m a year and reduced productivity.

"Productivity proposals were put to trade unions which would have delivered an increase in earnings for drivers of up to 7.9pc between February 2016 and January 2018," it added.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe had warned the action could have a severe impact on the heavily indebted company. It is believed to be losing €1m a month and has accumulated losses of €135m.

"I'm more concerned we could be entering a period of ongoing industrial relations and financial difficulty within Irish Rail," he said.

Tánaiste Joan Burton yesterday said the "biggest losers" from the action would be commuters and Bank Holiday travellers.

Read More: Tánaiste Joan Burton: Public will be biggest losers from tomorrow's planned rail strike

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