Irish Rail – a tale of failure

The 18.50 train left Colbert Station in Limerick on time yesterday evening – the coldest night of the year. I ate my ham, cheese and tomato sandwich contentedly. I would be changing to the Cork train in the armpit of Ireland – Limerick Junction – from whence I would be transported to Dublin Heuston. Estimated time of arrival 21.05. I was planning an early night in preparation for the big Christnas dinner at work the following day (my company has a tradition of laying on a full Christmas spread for all employees in the staff canteen about a week before Christmas). The Cork to Dublin train was waiting for me at Limerick Junction. Try as I might I will never love Limerick Junction – bleak and desolate it is the place that dreams go to die. As such it has a micro-climate – it is always cold and wet, with a biting wind at the Junction. For once the rest of the country was in perfect synchronicity with that godforsaken place.

I shivered in relief as we pulled out of the Junction. Onwards to Dublin. Through Thurles, Templemore and Port Laoise – our final stop of the night before reaching Dublin Heuston. Just outside Portarlington in County Laois the train stopped. This was no cause for alarm. Irish Rail has issues with trains passing each other in opposite directions, at the same time. It is quite routine for a train to stop, while waiting for a train to pass, before continuing. It was 20.35. At 21.00 it was getting annoying. Some information would be appreciated. Finally the train host announced over the intercom that there was engine trouble but that a tow train was on its way from Heuston which would pull us into Dublin. It would arrive ‘shortly’. Apologies for any inconvenience were issued. At 21.30 the same announcement was made. And again at 22.00. There was never an estimate offered as to when we would get moving.

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