Claims Longford and Westmeath train passengers travelling to capital being forced to sit in aisles

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

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Concerns have emerged this week over the number of carriages being employed on an early morning Sligo-Dublin service

Irish Rail has come under fire for its decision to cut carriage numbers on an early morning commuter service almost in half.

The issue was brought into the public domain in recent days by Fianna Fáil Longford-Westmeath TD Robert Troy.

The local TD wrote to the state owned rail operator after fielding several concerns from local constituents

In a letter to its chief executive David Franks, Mr Troy said passengers on a 7:28am service from Mulingar to Dublin were now routinely having to stand due to carriage numbers being reduced from seven to four.

“Customers thought this was only going to be for a few days but it looks now like it's long term,” he wrote.

“No announcement of any description was made that I am aware of.”

The fallout has also attracted the attention of Mr Troy's constituency colleague Peter Burke.

He took to Facebook last Thursday to publish a letter sent to Irish Rail the previous day.

He told of seeing at close hand overcrowding problems when availing of an 8:45am Mullingar to Dublin train.

“Every passenger who boarded the later train this morning had to stand as there were only four carriages.

“Four carriages are not sufficient enough to accommodate the passengers who use this service.”

In seeking a meeting with Irish Rail's CEO over the controversy, Mr Burke said the current situation facing dissaffected passengers represented a serious health and safety hazard.

The post drew a somewhat sarcastic response from Mr Troy who posted his own response by indicating that it was he who first learned of the affair.

Opening with the comment: 'May I shed some light on the situation', the post was later deleted from Mr Burke's Facebook page.

Speaking to the Leader today, Mr Burke said he was of a different mindset to the one advocated by his constituency colleague.

The chartered accountant said rather than throw additional money at the issue, the more considered approach in seeking talks with Irish Rail chiefs as to how budgets are spent and managed was more advisable.

In an email to Mr Troy sent by Mr Franks, the Irish Rail CEO attempted to explain the rationale behind the decision.

“The train you refer to is the 05.45 from Sligo and outside of the summer months is formed of 7 coaches.

"The later service departing Sligo at 09.00 can normally cope with 4 coaches but at this time of year becomes the busiest of the two trains.

“To deal with this the so the train formations are swapped around.

“I appreciate this can lead to some people standing on the 05.45 as the train gets nearer to Dublin but if we didn't do this we would be leaving people behind on the 09.00 Sligo service because we do not have sufficient vehicles to simply add additional capacity.”