| 11.4°C Dublin

Fury as passengers stuck on train for five hours after fire

PASSENGERS had to endure a near five-hour delay after a fire broke out on a Belfast to Dublin train near Newry.

A total of 114 passengers were on board last night's Enterprise service when the blaze started in the engine compartment.

Irish Rail have launched an investigation, but said that no passengers or workers were injured in the incident.

However, Irish Rail were criticised by commuters for failing to have a back-up plan – which meant the 6.05pm service, which normally takes two hours, arrived in Dublin after 1am.

"It was a serious fire that caused a lot of damage," Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny told the Herald.



"But with the design of the locomotive, it was possible to physically contain the fire."

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service group commander Eddie Carroll said fire crews had difficulty getting into the engine area.

"The initial crews, on arrival, were confronted with a well-developed fire," he said.

Passengers who were sitting adjacent to the carriage, were asked to move forward but Irish Rail said that there was "no significant danger" to people on board at any time.

Commuters were stuck for almost five hours because the train was forced to stop in an area at Goraghwood, Newry, Co Down, that was not directly accessible by road.

Mr Kenny said that Irish Rail's colleagues in Northern Ireland rail operator Translink made the decision not to provide a bus connection, due to logistical reasons.

"It would have been a situation where we would have had to walk people almost two miles along very uneven surfaces," he said. "It was decided it was safer to wait."

A train was brought on the opposite track to ferry passengers to their final destination – making several stops along the way. Five passengers were put up in a hotel and there were 20 taxis lined up to bring people to their final destinations.

Passengers affected will be offered a full refund, Mr Kenny added.

Representative group Rail Users Ireland's Thomas Stamp said that the situation was "unacceptable" and should have been brought under control in a much more effective way.

"What happened last night on the flagship Enterprise service was a disgrace and shows that Irish Rail do not have a proper plan for passengers left stranded," he told the Herald. "To make them wait to be put on another already late train is not acceptable."