Thursday 26 April 2018

Major disruption for Sligo train passengers

Trains didn't run from MacDiarmada Station in Sligo on Sunday and Monday due to strike action
Trains didn't run from MacDiarmada Station in Sligo on Sunday and Monday due to strike action

Paul Deering

The two-day strike at Irish Rail halted all seven services to and from Dublin and disrupted travel plans for hundreds of people.

Pickets were placed at MacDiarmada Station in Sligo early on Sunday morning and they remained in placed on Monday.

Services were expected to return to normal on Tuesday but further strikes are planned for next month.

Given there was plenty of advance warning of the strike very few would be passengers turned up at the station over the two days.

Jim Doherty, Sligo Station Manager said: "The word had got out abut the strike.

"There was a handful of people here on Sunday, three tourists and no one had turned up today (Monday)."

The strike by members of the SIPTU and NBRU unions went ahead despite a last minute plea from Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe.

Negotiations on planned pay cuts at the company have been ongoing for the past 20 months.

The Sligo to Dublin line is one of the busiest in the country.

On Sunday it would have expected to carry hundreds of football fans heading for Croke Park for the clash of Mayo and Kerry.

Many GAA fans would have got the train in Sligo and more along the line in towns such as Boyle, Longford and Mullingar.

The N4/M4 saw an increase in traffic as a result with fans switching to the road to travel to Dublin.

With early morning services on Monday also not running, the Sligo/Dublin road also saw a significant rise in traffic.

Nationally, some 160,000 passengers were affected.

The Minister said he would not be intervening in the dispute. He said the State had industrial relations machinery - such as the Labour Relations Commission - for dealing with such matters.

Irish Rail said it would run out of money by the middle of next year if its financial difficulties were not addressed.

The company said it had no option but to implement the pay cuts, which range from 1.7 to 6 per cent.

Further stoppages are planned for Sunday and Monday September 7th and 8th and the Sunday the 21st.

Rail tickets are not valid on bus operators' services during the industrial action. Online bookings are currently suspended for those dates.

Irish Rail says it will begin processing refunds today (Tuesday) for all customers who had booked to travel on Sunday and Monday.

The money should then appear back on people's cards within 7-10 days of this date.

Customers who bought tickets at the station can collect a refund form there and return to the relevant postal address outlined.

Sligo Champion