Irish Rail’s Disappearing Trains

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By Cormac Lucey

Starbucks recently decided to create an app to allow customers order and pay on a smartphone before entering a store to collect their coffee. The innovation caused bottlenecks during busy hours at some of Starbucks’ most popular locations. According to Business Insider: “The crowds of customers waiting for their lattes and frappucinos has even started to discourage walk-in customers from entering stores.”

One customer’s pre-order can be viewed by another as queue jumping. Pre-order can work best in quiet times when people might otherwise waste time between placing an order and being served. But such a system risks exacerbating peak-time pressures.

On St Patrick’s Day, I queued at Blackrock in Co Dublin to get the 13.26pm Dart into the RDS to watch the Leinster Senior Schools rugby final. When I got to Blackrock the Dart was still on schedule. I then waited and waited as the arrival time was pushed further and further back. Then two Dart trains travelled through without stopping.

I spotted a message on Twitter from a councillor thanking Irish Rail for organising two Darts to bring Cuala fans from Dalkey towards Croke Park.

I tweeted Irish Rail with the question: “Where is the 13.26 from Blackrock to Pearse? 17 minutes late and no announcement?” I got no reply.

Who made the decision to give the two Cuala trains preference over scheduled services and why was the impact not reflected in Irish Rail’s timetable, so that other passengers could adapt to the change in circumstances?

Published in The Sunday Times (Irish edition)
March 26th 2016

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