IRISH Rail received a whopping 1,105 complaints - an average of 21 per week - from train passengers about the Westport-Dublin line last year, writes CLAIRE McNAMARA
Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act to The Connaught Telegraph show that the number of complaints increased by 327 compared to 2017.
Many of the damning complaints relate to seat reservation, train failures and delays, serious overcrowding and anti-social behaviour.
A passenger travelling from Castlebar to Heuston was enraged and deeply dissatisfied with the service when they were forced to stand for the entire journey as the carriage they had booked did not arrive at the station.
In December, Claremorris station was not open one Sunday morning for the 8.25 a.m. train to Dublin. The passengers had to climb over a wall using a crate and then on to a trailer to make sure they made the train on time.
Also, elderly passengers and those with disabilities were forced to miss the train as a result of the closure. They described the service as absolutely disgraceful and extremely dangerous.
A cancer patient who had recently undergone chemotherapy treatment described the service as chaotic and disgraceful as they were forced to stand in the most uncomfortable circumstances from Dublin to Ballyhaunis due to severe overcrowding.
Another passenger lodged a complaint about the bathroom facilities and claimed they were not safe to use due to hygiene problems.
Separately, passengers travelling from Ballina to Heuston last December had to group together for their safety due to extreme anti-social behaviour on board their carriage, which was described as aggressive, violent and disturbing.
Speaking to The Connaught Telegraph, Barry Kenny, communications manager with Irish Rail, said: “We had over 577,000 journeys on the Westport/Dublin route in 2018.
As it was the busiest year ever on the route in terms of passenger journeys, this has certainly added to pressure on capacity at our busiest times. In terms of other issues, we have introduced alcohol restrictions on a number of services at weekends on the route to counteract anti-social behaviour.
“We have also begun introducing customer service officers on board our Intercity trains this year, including the Westport/Dublin route, who will be able to help customers with issues including assistance with boarding, protecting seat reservations, information and support when there is disruption and more.”