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Monday 26 August 2019

Irish Rail declines free drinking water tap for customers at Heuston Station

Dublin city stock
Dublin city stock

Gabija Gataveckaite

Irish Rail declined drinking water tap at Heuston station in Dublin.

A drinking water trap was initially offered to Connolly Station by Refill Ireland and when Irish Rail said that wasn't suitable, it then considered the free tap installation for Heuston Station.

It later said Heuston station wasn't suitable for the dispensary either.

Refill Ireland, an environmental non-profit project said the tap would have allowed customers to fill up their water bottles for free within the bustling station.

Speaking to Independent.ie, lead coordinator for Refill Ireland Barry O'Connor, said that they were "surprised" when the offer was declined.

"We contacted Irish Rail and initially wanted to get a tap installed near Connolly station, and Irish Rail said it wasn't suitable, so they said they would take a look at Heuston.

"Then they came back and said that Heuston wasn't suitable either. They said that there would be an issue with the water tap due to the underground structures but we're struggling to see the physical problem as there's running water in all stores in the station," he explained.

"We were surprised that we couldn't come to a solution on it, we offered to meet on the site to see what can be done. We understand that it's the main link and there would be a crowd control issue but they didn't even meet us, it didn't even get to that stage."

The non-profit organisation said that the annual costs of maintaining the water tap would have been low.

"We work with sponsors in getting them to fund water dispensaries of up to €5,000. The tap is installed for free and the only costs for Irish Rail would have been an annual maintenance fee of €140 for changing the filter and cleaning," he said.

"But the filter isn't even mandatory. We always suggest that tap water is the best, but some people don't like the taste of chlorine or flouride, but the water doesn't have to be filtered."

Mr O'Connor said that that passengers would be encouraged to bring their own re-usable water bottles if a tap was installed.

"We target railways as it's busy and it's a great spot.

"We want to try and encourage the use of re-usable water bottles and cups as much as we can and if people know that there's a water tap at the station, they'll be more inclined to bring their own water bottle," Mr O'Connor added.

"Last year, Irish Rail gave out 50,000 bottles of water during the heatwave. If they did this for every heatwave, it would be far cheaper for them to install a water tap," he said.

A spokesperson for Irish Rail said that the water dispensary was not refused.

"It’s not the case that we are “refusing” free water dispensers," said the spokesperson.

"The existing public water infrastructure feeding Heuston requires upgrade for us to be able to dispense water from our supply in the public area - quality wise it is drinkable, but there is discolouration without extensive filtration - so at this point we couldn’t avail of Refill Ireland’s offer.

"We are liaising with the local authority as we are keen to examine how we can provide such facilities in our major stations," the spokesperson added.

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