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New trains but not the right trains on the Sligo line

In December 2005, services to Sligo where increased from three a day to five a day. Rail Users Ireland welcomes this development -- it is our philosophy that more frequent trains are always a positive development for a line.

However, Iarnród Éireann have decided to replace the old carriages on this line with new railcars (known as the 29000 series). These railcars can be found on the Maynooth and Drogheda services, and are great for short-hop commuter services. However, these railcars are utterly unsuitable for a three-hour intercity service.

Many commuters have expressed dissatisfaction with the comfort of the 29000 series stock, particularly with respect to suspension and cabin noise. Many passengers to Longford particularly complain of a very poor ride quality beyond Mullingar. Iarnród Éireann in the past have gone on record stating that suburban railcars are unsuitable for long distance service such as Dublin Limerick and Dublin Cork following complaints of there use on Sundays.

The CAF built 2900 series railcar is strictly a suburban railcar and is clearly referred to such in all contract, tender and design documents. To quote Mr Derek Byrne the 2900 series project engineer,

The Class 2900 has been designed primarily to cater for the needs of high density traffic on the commuter corridors serving Dublin.

We consider the 29000 units to be unsuitable on many grounds. The problems include:

  • Specifically designed for commuter service
  • Branded as commuter, shared with Dublin suburban
  • Only 48 seats a coach on average
  • One toilet per 2 coaches
  • Top speed of 75 mph only (but limited to 70 mph which is slower than the trains they replace)
  • Inter carriage doors manual, not automatic (bad for accessibility)
  • No trolley service or catering (there's nowhere to store the trolley) If Iarnród Éireann provide a trolley service they may find themselves in breech of safety regulations.
  • No facilities to carry bikes
  • No facilities to carry parcels (Iarnród Éireann plan to carry parcels by road to Sligo, so it really should now be called FastTruck)
  • No facilities for bulky luggage
  • No separation between passenger area and doors
  • Floors uncarpeted
  • Tables small compared to standard intercity stock
  • High noise level in cabin
  • Objectionable vibration in cabin where accelerating
  • Very poor ride quality on even reasonable track, particularly in corners -- passengers will be jolted around

In August 2005 Rail Users Ireland contacted senior management in Iarnród Éireann with our concerns and offered a solution (using different trains) to Iarnród Éireann. In a written response but they chose to ignore the issues we highlighted. A face to face meeting followed. In response to Iarnród Éireann failing to even acknowledge our concerns we contacted the Interim Rail Safety Commission (IRSC) highlighting our concern that the use of suburban rolling stock on intercity duties would lead to a reduction in safety and introduces risks that were not present before, particularly with relation to lack of storage for luggage and also nowhere to securely store the catering trolley. We note Iarnród Éireann had not provided the IRSC with a a copy of their internal safety assessment required by Company Safety Standard No. 6 at the time of our complaint 2 weeks after the new trains had entered service.

Read Rail Users Ireland's report

Read the Rail Users Ireland proposal to offer a better service on the Sligo line

Last Updated: October 16 2007 21:37:41
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