Retailers' anger at lack of rail service
RETAILERS and consumers yesterday criticised the decision not to operate any rail services on St Stephen's Day, despite its popularity as a shopping day.
As shopping again suffered in yesterday's snow, Dublin Chamber of Commerce said that it was particularly disappointing that the Dart would not be operating this Sunday given shoppers had relied so heavily on it during this month's extreme conditions.
"It's hugely disappointing that it will be shut on St Stephen's Day as it's been shown it's a day a lot of people like to go into Dublin to shop or go to the cinema or whatever," said Chamber policy director Aebhric McGibney.
Business was again hit by the weather in Dublin city centre yesterday, although consumers who did travel into town were purchasing decisively rather than browsing, he said.
Irish Rail said yesterday that their view was that there would not be enough passengers to merit operating the Dart on St Stephen's Day but they would keep this under review in future years.
"It is our view that the numbers travelling would not justify operating the service, and in the current difficult financial situation with a reduced subvention we cannot afford another loss-making day," said spokesman Barry Kenny.
Mark Gleeson, of Rail Users Ireland, said that although it might be reasonable not to operate intercity rail services, the Dart should be required to open up on December 26 given it was a popular shopping day.
"If there is still snow and ice around people will be very reluctant to drive.
"The Dart and rail services have been extremely good and reliable throughout the bad weather this month and that's the point of public transport, it's something you can rely on," he said.
There was now a high degree of automation at Dart stations, so a service could be operated without a huge staff, he said.
"Times have changed, and it should be made a condition of Irish Rail's contract with the National Transport Authority that they run some kind of service in the Dublin area on St Stephen's Day," he said.
No Dart will operate between Bray and Dun Laoghaire from December 27 until January 3 inclusive to allow essential repairs be carried out near Sandycove.
Dublin Airport was one of the few retail centres where business was booming yesterday as grounded passengers waited for flights to resume.
A spokesman for Dublin Airport Authority said the airport was very busy, but their focus was on getting flights resumed yesterday evening, rather than checking the level of business at retail and food outlets.