Customers complain of the 'intolerable conditions' on packed Irish Rail trains
Published 01/10/2015 | 02:30
Hurtling trains and "dangerously over-packed" carriages caused concerned Irish Rail customers to put pen to paper and complain to senior bosses and politicians about their on-board experiences.
Passengers complained to the National Transport Authority (NTA) and the Department of Transport that the rail service in Ireland was a "complete fiasco of incompetence" which sees "short trains at peak time with passengers squeezed into intolerable conditions or unable to get a train at all".
A man said his wife travelled on a Dart train from the capital's Tara Street to their home, but said the four-carriage train "resembled the Black Hole of Calcutta".
In some of the correspondences to the Transport Minister's office over the last two years, commuters also expressed genuine concern about the speeds some trains were travelling at and said "there is the potential for a disaster".
Another man described a nauseating feeling that "one gets when they are sitting in a dangerously over-packed vehicle travelling at speeds of over 100km per hour".
He added that he was forced to search for the "cleanest dirty floor to sit on" as recently as February of this year.
And an annual ticket holder, who regularly used the Waterford train, said during one trip in December 2013 people were "standing and sitting between carriages".
"Why do I bother to use the train when it's putting my health in jeopardy? Do something before a serious incident happens," the irate passenger wrote.
All names and personal details on the correspondences, which were released through a Freedom of Information request, were redacted.
The Railway Safety Commission (RSC) said it received 62 letters or emails from customers in relation to "operations or infrastructure" at Irish Rail in 2013 alone.
The watchdog launched an investigation into passenger loading inspections when 15 correspondences referred specifically to "crowding" on Irish Rail trains.
The RSC confirmed it inspected 96 trains across December 2013 and January 2014 at train stations in the Dublin and Kildare area.
Inspectors identified that "action was required" in three areas of service, recommending that Irish Rail continue to monitor its services "to ensure, whenever possible, trains match expected demand".
The watchdog also recommended that inspectors continue to carry out "random and targeted inspections of Irish Rail train services".
It said there was also scope to "consider training in the area of train overcrowding"
"Irish Rail should consider providing training to front line station staff and train hosts about platform and train overcrowding and passenger behaviour," it said.
The independent body said almost all of the 15 complaints about crowding were received in the fourth quarter of 2013 after Irish Rail began to put fewer carriages on certain services in a bid to "rationalise train formations".
However, all instances of reported overcrowding had been determined to be well within the design capacity of the vehicles, the RSC added.
A spokesperson for Irish Rail said they are "never complacent about safety" and stressed that they continue to work to improve standards.
"It should be remembered, however, that not only is rail the safest mode of transport in Ireland, but that we also have one of the strongest safety records of any railway in Europe," a spokesman added.