Irish Rail says it is “proving very difficult” to bring back the food and drink trolley on Irish trains.
The catering trolley has not returned to the train service since the outbreak of the pandemic.
On Lunchtime Live this morning, Irish Rail spokesperson Barry Kenny said there is still no set date for the return.
“We would love to be able to bring it back straight away but it is proving very difficult,” he said.
“As people know, our catering provider pulled out of providing it earlier this year. We have been working with the market to try and get a replacement provider even on an interim basis, or even to have, kind of, some services covered.
“They are facing the same issues the previous provider had in terms of staffing and also, costs have basically multiplied.
“I think what people don’t probably appreciate is that we pay the catering providers to provide the service and the costs being quoted to us are significantly above what we’re funded for.”
He said the company hopes to bring back the service “as early as possible in the new year” – but there is no guaranteed date.
“We’ll get it back in the new year,” he said. “We’re working to have it as early as possible but it is not confirmed as of yet.
“I know it is bureaucratic and it is frustrating for customers – it’s frustrating for us as well in terms of what we’re funded for and what we have the ability to do without facing legal challenge from suppliers that don’t get it.
“It’s about getting that across the line. We think we’ll get there early in the new year but as I say we’re still working with suppliers.”
He said the Irish Rail never made money off the trolley service.
“The supplier will be making that money,” he said. “We want it there because our customers want it.
“It is a nice aspect of rail travel and that’s why we want it – because it attracts more people to our service.”
Mr Kenny said it is not as simple as turning up with a trolley – as whoever gets the contract will have food safety and storage issues to contend with.