Thousands of passengers continued to bear the brunt of the ongoing train dispute today.
This is despite the fact that talks got underway to resolve the unofficial action taken by train drivers.
Representatives from the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) were due to meet with Iarnród Éireann and the unions representing the 40 Cork drivers involved in the dispute at 2.30pm in Mallow today to attempt to find a resolution.
Hopes on all sides were strong that a resolution would be found to the dispute, now in its sixth day, with a cost of more than €2m to Iarnród Éireann alone.
Stephanie Good arrived at Kent Station last night trying to get back to Dublin for work after spending the weekend in Cork for her sister’s wedding.
“I wasn’t expecting the train dispute, and there’s so much confusion on the internet over which trains are running and which trains aren’t, but I thought I’d be OK. Now I’m going to have to pay over the odds to fly. I’ll only get a refund for the train, not the flight,” she said.
A group of girls trying to get train tickets for Celine Dion on Friday were also disappointed when they were told by Iarnród Éireann ticket desk to buy bus tickets instead.
Vivienne Twohig, Sabrina Duggan and Aoife Browne from Mayfield, said they were now worried about trying to make the journey on potentially crowded buses.
One elderly lady, who had spent yesterday morning travelling from Limerick by bus, was trying to get back to Cobh from the train station. There was no replacement bus service to Cobh either.
“I’ve been talking to my friends in Cobh and they’re isolated. People wanting to come visit their sick relatives in the city’s hospitals are cut off because of the strike. They can’t afford to be paying €30 for a taxi,” she said. Unions SIPTU, National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and Iarnród Éireann were hoping a resolution would be found by tomorrow.
The dispute begun last Thursday when a driver refused to change rosters and was taken off the payroll.
Barry Kenny, spokesperson for Iarnród Eireann said: “We are entering these exploratory talks today positively and expecting to find a resolution. We want to end the unofficial action and restore services as soon as possible.”
John Pearson branch organiser for SIPTU said: “These talks are exploratory, so there will be no face-to-face with the company. The two unions and the company will meet separately with the LRC.
“Then whatever resolution is presented by the LRC will be taken back to our members. It won’t be for the want of trying that services won’t be restored tomorrow.”
Dermot O’Leary, assistant general secretary of the NBRU representing the Cork driver who triggered the dispute, said: “We’ve been asking the LRC to intervene since Friday, but it took until yesterday for Iarnród Eireann to consent to the talks. So we hope now that we can resolve this issue as soon a possible.”
There are still no trains running out of Cork or Tralee, and anybody hoping to travel from Dublin to Mallow or vice-versa should check the website www.irishrail.ie for the latest information.
Article courtesy of the Evening Echo newspaper.