Thousands affected as national rail strike gets underway

Fianna Fáil has criticised the Transport Minister for his "hands off" approach

Thousands affected as national rail strike gets underway

An empty Connolly Station this morning, 01-11-2017. Image: Sean Defoe/Newstalk

Updated 10:30

More than 150,000 people were forced to make alternative travel plans this morning, as a national rail strike saw no services on the Intercity, DART or Commuter lines. 

Workers at Iarnród Éireann have downed tools in a strike over pay.

Train drivers are looking for a pay rise of 3.75% every year for the next three years.

Irish Rail has claimed that is unaffordable, with spokesperson Barry Kenny apologising to passengers for a lack of services today:

“Unfortunately there are no trains operating on the Iarnród Éireann network today,” he said. “That is for the full 24 hours 8am to midnight.”

“For customers that usually travel with us, unfortunately they will have to make alternative arrangements.

“Rail tickets won’t be valid on other operator’s services. We will be back fully tomorrow but we will refund customers for this disruption.”

Unions have said that a 2.5% pay rise was offered during talks at the Workplace Relations Committee - but was pulled at the last minute.

Irish Rail deny such an offer was ever given.

Driver James Daly told Newstalk that if the company received adequate funding from the government, a pay agreement would be easily reached.

Many commuters meanwhile, are not happy at the strike:

Hands off

In a statement yesterday evening, the Minister for Transport Shane Ross called on parties in the dispute to make use of the services of the Labour Court and the Workplace Relations Committee.

He said it is important for the travelling public, staff and the company itself that the dispute is resolved in a realistic, fair and sustainable manner."

His response to the situation has come in for criticism however, with the Fianna Fáil transport spokesperson Robert Troy slamming his “hands off” attitude.

He warned that ignoring the problem will not deliver a solution for anybody:

“Who is the real loser? The tens of thousands of passenger who have supported Irish Rail down through the years by their very presence and buying tickets,” he said.

“They are the people who are going to be discommoded.

“They are the people who are going to have to look for alternative ways to get to work, to get to college.

“I don’t think it is good enough and I think the actions and commitment of Minister Ross to public transport over the last 18 months is far from satisfactory.”

Commuters are being advised to leave extra time for their journeys. T

National strike days

Unions have scheduled four other national strike days across November and December – including during the November 14th World Cup qualifying play-off between the Republic of Ireland and Denmark.  

Services will be stopped on:

  • Tuesday, November 7th
  • Tuesday, November 14th
  • Thursday, November 23rd
  • Friday, December 8th

For anyone trying to get to work or college this morning, the advice is to leave in plenty of time to cope with the extra traffic on the roads.

There are some extra private bus services running but demand is expected to be high.