Passengers’ decision to force open the doors of a DART near Bray yesterday turned a five-minute delay into two hours, according to Iarnród Éireann.
Images on social media yesterday showed the chaos around Bray stations as passengers left the train and walked along the railway line.
Passengers have complained of poor ventilation and lack of air conditioning on some of the delayed trains, with people left with no choice but to get off as the delays lengthened.
Meanwhile, Iarnród Eireann has been accused of poor planning, with just nine extra DARTS scheduled on a day that included the Air Show in Wicklow and the All-Ireland final in Dublin.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Iarnród Éireann spokesperson Barry Kenny explained what happened.
“Bray Air Show Day is obviously one of the busiest days of the year on the DART,” he said.
“There were huge crowds, obviously it was the first one for three years so it was extremely busy throughout the morning and through lunchtime.”
Perfectly normal scenes as the Gards, paramedics and fire brigade are on the Dart line, no services in or out of Bray for a few hours, people being told to get buses, its a mess pic.twitter.com/f4m6GUbaTZ
— MarC with a C like it should be (@mcbadcalf) July 24, 2022
Mr Kenny said the trouble started at about 2:55pm as a DART waited outside Bray station for a platform to clear.
He said the train had been waiting there for five minutes and 30 seconds when a small group on board one of the carriages forced open the doors and starting walking along the track towards the station.
“Because there were people on the track, we obviously couldn’t move any trains,” he said.
“We couldn’t move the train off the platform heading north to allow that particular train come into the platform.
“While we were working to ensure the line was clear, people then started to follow them off the DART.
“Obviously, they saw the delay was lengthening. It was very warm. It was very uncomfortable conditions and I suppose out of the delay and the concern, many more people started to move out of that DART.
“Within about 20 minutes then, a second DART that was further back on the line, nearer to Shankill, the same thing happened on it.
“Again, a very, very busy one and ultimately, we had significant numbers of people from two trains on the tracks, meaning the trains couldn’t move.”
Bray Airshow #brayairshow #dart #irishrail pic.twitter.com/QxFDbl30QC
— Freddie Stevens (@_andStevens) July 24, 2022
He said the original delay was just over five minutes; however, that “lengthened considerably” when passengers began walking on the tracks.
“Ultimately because we had an uncontrolled situation and - as you say it is very visible from those images - a very high number of people on the track, the line was closed for over two hours,” he said.
Mr Kenny said the rail company has had no reports that the air conditioning was not working on the first train – but a full investigation will now be carried out.
He said air-conditioned trains do not have openable windows and there are ‘limits to what the air-con can do’ when a train is stopped.
“We do accept that the vast majority of people who found themselves in a situation where they got out of the train did so out of genuine concern,” he said. “Out of the fact they were facing an extended delay.
“But I think literally, unfortunately, had it been just a few minutes more, the first train would have moved in, everything else would have been moving and we would have been able to assist people.”
"Very upsetting and distressing"
He apologized to anyone who found themselves caught up in what was a “very upsetting and distressing situation”.
Mr Kenny also said the new DART+ programme will double the capacity and treble the electrification of the Greater Dublin Area rail network.
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