Thursday 22 August 2019

'We heard it on radio before Irish Rail told us' - 20,000 angry at travel chaos

Tourists: Lisa Hunter and Robyn Koch from Wisconsin, USA, in Heuston Station. Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Tourists: Lisa Hunter and Robyn Koch from Wisconsin, USA, in Heuston Station. Photo: Kyran O’Brien

Conor Feehan and Denise Calnan

A signalling fault at Heuston Station in Dublin caused travel chaos for around 20,000 commuters and tourists throughout yesterday.

Many were left stranded and waiting for information after first hearing about the problem on the radio.

Services to and from Heuston continued to be delayed yesterday evening.

Some InterCity services were running an hour and a half late while there was reduced capacity on some services.

Irish Rail said a "major signal fault" arose just as the morning commuter period was getting under way.

It changed over from the computer-based signalling system to a manual one shortly before 8am and trains started to run again.

However there were lengthy knock-on delays, and these continued throughout the day.

There was anger among some commuters that Irish Rail failed to provide bus transfers for affected passengers, some of whom said they were two hours later arriving to work yesterday morning.

Speaking on RTÉ radio, spokesperson Jane Cregan said it was not providing alternative transport, adding: "There are thousands and thousands and thousands of people impacted."

She said it would not have been able to source enough buses to cater for everyone who was affected.

Among those whose travel plans were thrown into chaos yesterday morning was Aisling Toms, who was with a group from Musgraves Wholesalers.

"We were due to go to Cork for a meeting on the 7am train, and we only found out there was a problem when we got here," she said.

"We actually heard it on the radio before anyone in the station told us."

Another passenger in the group, Niall Mullaly, said: "The noticeboards were still reading 'on time' at that stage."

"We're trying to find a way around it, but we may just have to go back to work here in Dublin," said Ms Toms.

Another group of workers who were hoping to get to Cork for a meeting were waiting patiently on the main concourse at Heuston.

"We work with Marks & Spencer and were due to go to Cork for three days with work," said Aisling Ryan. "There was no sign of any difficulty when we arrived, and we only found out at 7am when we were due to board the train.

"Our tickets are not transferable to a bus, so we don't know what will happen now."

Railtours was also affected by the delays, and staff at its stand were fielding questions from customers who had booked tours, most of them tourists from abroad.

"We had hoped to go the Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty, but it looks like that won't happen now," said Robyn Koch, from Wisconsin in the US.

Irish Independent

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