May 13, 2008

Just another day for Iarnród Éireann

Filed under: eire — SiKing @ 12:20 am
Tags: ,

Iarnród Éireann logo

That’s Irish Rail. First a little background for out-of-towners. The Dublin public transport is one of the worst in the civilized world: it’s expensive, inefficient, and unreliable. With the unexpected population boom due to the Celtic Tiger economy, the public transport system was caught off guard and is completely unable to cope with the volume of daily commuters. Now that the Celtic Tiger is dying, and foreigners are leaving the country, the system upgrades are finally getting caught up. However, it’s a work in progress.

A map of the stops should help with the following tale.

On my way home from work today the DART stopped somewhere between Grand Canal Dock and Pearse. It was an unusually sunny day, 19°, and as is usual most of the windows in the car were closed. After a few minutes wait, the friendly voice of the driver came over the PA telling us there is a problem with the “points” (that’s DART-speak for electrical system) and that it will be a few more minutes. After the few more minutes, the same voice announced that it will be at least another hour, and that immediately the train is changing from a Malahide train to a Bray train (essentially turning around)! Back at Grand Canal then, everybody got out of the train. Grand Canal is not one of the bigger stops, and it is not capable of fully-loaded peak traffic train being unloaded there. After several minutes, all the one available exist was completely blocked. In the meantime, a Drogheda Commuter arrived. More information for out-of-towners: the DARTs are cheaper, non air conditioned (why bother in Ireland), short distance, slower, electric trains; compared with the Commuters which are more expensive, air conditioned, long distance, faster, and most importantly diesel trains. We, along with a fully packed platform, figured that the diesel train can get through Pearse which has no electricity, and hopefully on the other side at Connolly all the Malahide-Bray DARTs are being turned around and going to Malahide again. So everyone, including the poor souls which genuinely needed to take the one-per-hour Drogheda train packed in. The train moved about as far as the previous DART and stopped. Obviously there was a DART stuck at Pearse, with no electricity, thereby leaving only one track available for two way train traffic. At this point, it is worth revisiting the previously mentioned benefit of air conditioning. Since the train is air conditioned, unlike the DART, it has no need to have windows that open, unlike the DART. Unfortunately, the air conditioning is able to effectively cool the air only during Irish winters and only if there are people comfortably seated. In this case, it was an unusually warm Irish summer day, and the train was absolutely packed wall to wall. The air conditioning was simply not coping. People were calling loved ones at home, with news that they have no idea when or if they will be home. Some even joked over the phone, with gems like: “Hunny, please have the squeegee ready for my face when I get home.”

Eventually we passed the work crew, which consisted of five guys in glow-in-the-dark vests leaning on one shovel. After about half an hour we reached Connolly. Malahidians stumbled out of the train, while the Droghedians immediately filled the gaps between the remaining bodies. We chcked the red LED signs for hints of where to catch the next train headed to Malahide. As it turned out, Irish Rail in their kindness added an extra stop to the train that we just got out of: Malahide. So we rushed back into the already overflowing train. After several warning beeps, a stern warning, and couple of pokes from a cattle prod, the driver somehow managed to close the door. Even thought the train was going non-stop from Connolly to Malahide, it was moving along rather slowly. Someone pointed out that the driver was probably being careful and making sure there were no leaves on the tracks – referring to an earlier incident, where trains in the morning had to move at a snail’s pace, due to “tracks being slippery because they are covered with leaves.” I’m not making this up! Anyway, this got a light-hearted chuckle out of everybody, easing a tense situation. Once the train picked up speed, people again started calling their loved ones at home again, that they might not be home as late as they originally thought. One gentleman, however, announced to his wife: “I will be in Malahide in about 10 minutes darling. Yea, I just happen to catch a travelling sauna that was going that way!”

This is what I love about the Irish – everything with a sense of humour and a grain of salt!



  1. What is the “other side of the topic” that you had in mind?

    Comment by siking — January 14, 2009 @ 4:23 pm | Reply

  2. I think you are thinking like sukrat, but I think you should cover the other side of the topic in the post too…

    Comment by SextScotrerly — January 13, 2009 @ 5:04 am | Reply

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