Irish News

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Skeleton train service will be real horror story

David Diebol

Published 24/10/2013 | 14:21

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Dart services disrupted over bank holiday weekend
Dart services disrupted over bank holiday weekend

It's a veritable Hallowe'en extravaganza of fun-filled spookfests all over the capital this bank holiday weekend.

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Alas for families living in north county Dublin the journey to enjoy any of it is likely to be a scary proposition indeed.

In fact, for anyone there reliant on a commuter train, it's shaping up to be a downright horrifying few days.

Thanks to engineering works running from Saturday until Monday, it'll be a skeleton service at best, with the one mainline rail train per hour giving up the ghost at Malahide and buses lumbering the rest of the way.

All of which will ensure that travellers arrive for their jolly Hallowe'en holiday weekend frolics about as fresh as a zombie.

For thousands more, north along the DART line, well, it looks like they'll just have to stick their thumb out, because it's hit the road or turn around, go home and hit the sack.

With the cancellation of all services between Pearse and Howth/Malahide they've no choice but to get the bus, there and back, if there's a stop they can feasibly trudge to.

And whatever means they manage in the end, it's clear that was probably a 10 to 15 minute trip on the DART could well end up being a 45-minute test of sanity.

Yes, we'll all still get there and it's not the end of the world, but that family outing is fast becoming a frightening prospect.

Though we are rather used to the uniquely tiresome ordeal of travelling into the city from out this way in distant north of the county.

Fingal derives its name from the Gaelic, 'land of the fair-haired stranger' but these days, as far as our transportation system is concerned, 'fair-haired stepchild' might be more apt.

Just ask anyone who commutes when the trains are running at what constitutes normal operating capacity around these parts, the many who brave on the sardine tins squealing into Connolly Station each day between the DARTs. Actually best not -- unless you want an earful.

It's an endurance test at the best of times and there are thousands who can attest to never having enjoyed the relative comfort of a seat, having commuted for years. But we live with it. We make do.

Except when it all slows down to a crawl of course, then we may as well just turn around and go home.

Of course, there's a logic to this and it makes sense to do major rail overhauls on days when fewer people need to get to work.

But the legions of weekend city centre workers who live anywhere north of the Liffey will be rather unhappy, to put it mildly, with the travel arrangements they'll have to endure.

Yes, there are buses that run all the way from Balbriggan, Skerries, Rush and Lusk, through Donabate and Swords into the city centre. There are bus which serve the areas around northside Dart stations too.

But a trip on one of these is routinely a steamy, shuddering slog through crawling traffic, which is largely why many will probably just stay put for the duration of the Bank Holiday now.

And sure, we can always drive our cars, if we want to check out the Bram Stoker Festival badly enough. Just as long as we're happy to wave at the people in the bus in front as everyone sits there together in the traffic jam.

Or we'll just do what we are bloody well told and shell out the twenty quid for a family rail ticket, take a deep breath, fold our lips into a thin line and grimly soldier through with whatever band-aid service is on offer that will get us where we want to go, eventually, and back again.

And come Tuesday, when all this engineering work is done, we will be back to the usual old service.

Now there's a scary thought.

(The Herald)

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