Bus Eireann: Tourists left stranded in Cork by train strike

Hundreds of commuters with business and holiday travel plans were hit by yesterday’s wildcat strike action at Cork’s Kent railway station.

Bus Eireann: Tourists left stranded in Cork by train strike

Train drivers downed tools when about 25 bus drivers, who have been picketing the city’s bus depots at Parnell Place and Capwell for the last week, mounted a surprise early morning picket at the train station entrance. They staged a similar action last Friday.

Inter-city and commuter train services ground to a halt from 5.30am until the picket was lifted at 11am.

German tourists, Viktoria Kirstein, who lives near Frankfurt, and Lea Klose, who lives near Cologne, were among several hundred passengers who were left stranded at the station for several hours. The friends arrived in Dublin earlier this week to start a two-week tour around Ireland. They were hoping to travel by bus. However, the bus strike meant they had to travel by train from Dublin to Cork on Tuesday.

They booked rail tickets online on Thursday night for the Cork to Killarney train yesterday morning, only to discover on their way to the train station that the trains weren’t running either. Lea said there was a notice online about the bus strike but there was no notice about the train strike.

“We don’t know if it’s a good idea to hitchhike or not. It’s a long journey to Killarney.”

Holly Murdock and Meagan Lee from Belfast who were stranded at Kent train station yesterday morning by the wildcat strike action.
Holly Murdock and Meagan Lee from Belfast who were stranded at Kent train station yesterday morning by the wildcat strike action.

Viktoria said: “And we are under 25 and we are not allowed to rent a car, and that’s so bad because the buses aren’t going; now the trains aren’t going; we can’t rent a car. We are stuck here.”

Asked if the strikes had ruined their holiday, Viktoria said: “Not yet. But it’s annoying because travelling around by bus would be cheaper and easier. We are here for the next 10-days or so. Let’s hope it gets better.”

German tourists Viktoria Kirstein and Lea Klose whose travel plans were disrupted by yesterday’s wildcat strike at Kent station.
German tourists Viktoria Kirstein and Lea Klose whose travel plans were disrupted by yesterday’s wildcat strike at Kent station.

Work colleagues Holly Murdock and Meagan Lee from Belfast were also left stranded at the train station. They arrived in Cork on Wednesday for two days’ work at Boojum, the city’s new Mexican restaurant, and were due to catch the 9.20am train from Cork to visit a Galway branch of the restaurant chain, before catching a train to Dublin in the afternoon and then catching an aircoach home to Belfast later.

“We found out about the strike on the way to the train station,” said Holly.

However, she was philosophical about it: “As long as we can get home, we don’t really mind. We’re not going to get angry about it, there’s no real point.”

John Houlihane, who has been a bus driver at the city’s Capwell depot for 38-years, said the wildcat action was borne out of frustration at grassroots level among workers who have been on the picket line for a week.

“We’ve been on the picket line for the last seven days — nothing has happened. The minister hasn’t gotten involved, the WRC isn’t talking to us, the company aren’t speaking to us. So eventually, frustration at that situation means people are going to break and take action on their own,” he said.

Bus Eireann workers picket outside Kent Train Station, Cork yesterday. Pictures: Larry Cummins
Bus Eireann workers picket outside Kent Train Station, Cork yesterday. Pictures: Larry Cummins

“We are transport people. We work in the transport industry. So we know what it’s like when people are left down, when a bus doesn’t turn up, or a train doesn’t run. We know the frustration involved. We don’t enjoy it, and that is the worst part if the picket for us.

“It’s tough on the public. But this is borne out of frustration. People have been generous in their support. I hope it continues.”

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