IT’S a Friday evening, and you’re heading home to wherever up the country. You arrive at a windswept Limerick Junction after a brief though somewhat unsettling trip on a boneshaker railcar, only to find your next train is cancelled, hugely late, or is formed of just 3 carriages and you have to stand for the journey.
The problems and corruption in Irish Rail are multifaceted.
If, like me, you took Economics for the Leaving Cert (or indeed are such a scholar at UL) you’ll know that a semi-state body generally does not exist to provide a profit and as such will not operate in the most effective manner. Instead it exists generally only to provide essential services. Sadly, Irish Rail, a company with a reasonable amount of untapped potential, fits the above description well.
In recent years, the company has taken decisions which have been majorly influenced by politics. Take for example the Western Rail Corridor, providing trains between Limerick and Galway. From the outset, the cheap option that was opted for would only be a white elephant. It offers slow and expensive trains which meander through the Co. Galway countryside, with a total journey time of 2 hours. Compare this to the Bus Eireann 51X service, which surely many of you are patrons, which takes about 80 minutes.
There are plenty more difficulties on the ground on a daily basis which are a greater problem. Trains to Sligo and Rosslare are often run with Commuter Railcars, entirely unsuited to long journeys. This is thanks in part to the rushed retirement of the old “orange” MKIII carraiges (which continue in service in the UK), most of which are now dumped in North Wall in Dublin.
From a local perspective, it is difficult to understand why there are no direct trains to Dublin after 9am from Limerick.
Having used the rail network in the UK extensively over the summer, organisation seems far more widespread there. Multiple companies provide services there, with all of them providing information about services in a far clearer and effective manner. Similarly, trains actually run at times which make sense and not all trains run to Dublin!
Finally, reserving a seat when booking online should not be mandatory. Recent trains I’ve been on have had Darth Vadar and Adolf Hitler boked to travel. I’m unsure is that the endorsement we need!