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Irish Rail Passengers Investigating Lack Of Thurles Pre-booked Seats

For regular Irish Rail commuters travelling to and from Thurles station, the following scenario, involving the constant lack of seating on Irish Rail, will be viewed as a familiar Friday evening encounter.

On Saturday last, November 23rd, some 45 scouts and their 6 Leaders from the Cahir area of Co. Tipperary, together with other regular commuters, were obliged to sit on the well-trodden, floor aisles of their train, due to pre-organised seating facilities failing to materialise.

When they went in search of their pre-booked, paid in advance seating, it became obvious that the carriages they were to occupy were non-existent. With parents waiting to pick them up at an agreed time and collection point; the Cub & Scout Troop; the majority of whom were aged between eight and eleven years old, were forced to sit out for their 1 hour return journey, on the damp floor, as they travelled from Heuston Station to Thurles, Co. Tipperary, on the 5.05pm scheduled commute.

The Cahir Cub & Scouts Troop had paid €1,180 initially in advance, to pre-book their necessary seating for an annual Christmas treat, but now when their Scout leaders went in search of their indicated carriages F & G, on which the seats had been pre-booked, same could not be located and in fact did not exist.

Their Irish Rail problem had begun earlier however; at the start of their journey to Dublin, when initially they had accessed the rail locomotive in Thurles railway station. The train had already picking up its required speed, when their pre-booked seats were found to be already fully occupied. Adult commuters now occupying their seats had to be moved to stand and in some cases members of the Troop had to doubled-up, in order to respect the needs of elderly passengers.

But that wasn’t to be the end of their harrowing experience. It was on the return journey; having spent a very enjoyable and edifying day in Dublin visiting museums etc, that this group of 45 Scouts and their six Leaders, would suffer at the hands of further unmitigated incompetency.

That evening the Cub and Scout Troop found themselves piled on top of one another; seated on dirty, littered, half washed floors or on table tops, in the knowledge that their emergency exits were blocked; and with each child, dog-tired after their busy and active day’s outing.
Usually available food and drink trolleys were suspended in the interest of health & safety, because the aisles were so packed with people either sitting down or standing holding unto bars and backs of seats.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson from Irish Rail issued a rather dubious apology to the Scouts. stating; “Irish Rail would like to sincerely apologise to each member of the Cahir Cub and Scout Group. The service they received was not acceptable and for that we are truly sorry. Our Head of Customer Experience made contact this afternoon with the leader of the Group and a full refund is being processed today. Saturday 23rd was a planned Line Improvement Works weekend and as a result there was reduced capacity on all services into & out of Heuston. We had extremely high volumes of customers travelling with us on Saturday and the train was full on arrival at Thurles. The online allocation was sold out on this service and the remainder of the seats were taken by turn-up and go customers.
On the return journey on a normal Saturday, this service would have been an 8-carriage train, but this was changed to a 5-carriage train due to the line improvement works and the group had originally booked onto the 8-carriage train. The booking was not transferred correctly onto the new train set so that is why their reservation did not appear we are currently investigating why this happened. We have taken a number of lessons from this unfortunate incident and will work to ensure that we will have better systems in place in the future to ensure that no other customers have the experience that the Cahir Cub and Scout Group had,” concluded the statement.

One wonders how two extra carriages added to a locomotive, subsidised by Irish taxpayers, could have affected line improvement works? But what do we know?

In another complaint forwarded to us some weeks ago, we are aware that two elderly ‘free travel’ passengers, travelling to Limerick Hospital and due to change at Limerick Junction, travelling from Thurles; unable to find a seat, unknowingly sat in an empty 1st class carriage. They were quickly approached by what they identified as a tall, aggressive balding, elderly Ticket Inspector, wearing thin framed glasses. Latter, indeed as was his right, he demanded that tickets be shown, before sternly informing both commuters that “free travel” was not available to persons accessing first class compartments. He now requested that they pay for first class tickets, if they were to remain in the empty carriage.

Since there are no other train stops between Thurles & Limerick Junction, (just a trip of 18 minutes from Thurles), no one else was going to ascend the locomotive, to use this carriage. Refusing to pay the fee then requested; both elderly persons were requested to return to the 2nd Class quarters, where they remained without seating and were forced to stand by the carriage exit doors. Both passengers stated that they felt like they had been reprimanded by ‘the commandant of a WW II concentration camp’.

Next year guys, consider hiring a private bus, because, as the Irish Rails advert claims, “Rail travel is so good nobody wants to get off”, no doubt the cause of last Saturday’s problem of seating.

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