AN InterCity train from Dublin to Cork which struck a wandering cow was stranded for over four hours with some male passengers forced to urinate out doorways after toilets overflowed.
Iarnrod Eireann has launched an investigation into the incident and apologised to almost 300 passengers who left Dublin's Heuston Station at 5pm on Wednesday but didn't arrive at Kent Station in Cork until after 1am.
Iarnrod Eireann official, Jane Cregan, said they are investigating the circumstances surrounding the damage caused to the locomotive and the conditions facing passengers stranded in carriages.
One passenger described the eight-hour journey, almost four times longer than normal, as "a total nightmare." Iarnrod Eireann said the situation facing their staff was "very difficult" and confirmed that all passengers involved will now be given a full refund.
However, passengers were furious at the conditions they faced after being stranded for over four hours between Thurles and Lisduff on the main Dublin-Cork line.
The train struck a cow which had wandered onto the track shortly after 6pm.
In accordance with policy, the driver immediately brought the train to a safe halt and examined the train. A replacement locomotive was on the scene within 40 minutes.
However, because of the damage that was sustained to pipes and wiring in the impact, it was extremely difficult to successfully switch locomotives. When the original locomotive was disconnected from the carriages, they lost all heating and toilet functions.
Because of the isolated location and the poor weather conditions, it was decided not to attempt to transfer passengers by bus. "It was absolutely appalling. The toilets were full and overflowing after about an hour or so.
"There was urine spilling out onto the floor," Sean Murphy said. "In the end, people were desperate to go to the toilet and I saw a few having to urinate out an open door."
One woman with a five-year-old child returning to Cork from a Dublin hospital visit described the situation as "absolutely dreadful". Another female passenger said she left Dublin at 5pm and got to her Cork city home just before 2am.