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Irish Rail passengers vent fury at overcrowding

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PILGRIMAGE Frances, Jamie and Samantha Webb from Ballyhaunis on the platform at Heuston Station. Pic: Nick Bradshaw, courtesy of The Irish Times

Áine Ryan

FOR little Jamie Webb, who was en route to Barrettstown with Crumlin Children’s Hospital, it should have been a wonderful adventure. Instead it was a nightmare. By the time the Ballyhaunis family got on the train last Thursday morning the three carriages were already seriously overcrowded.
As they told Irish Times journalist, Colin Gleeson, upon their arrival shortly after 1pm, the journey was just ‘terrible’, they were like sardines in a tin and, unsurprisingly ten-year-old Jamie, who was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year, was ‘frustrated’.
“There were only three carriages. People in Roscommon couldn’t get on at all. They were left there. They put on a bus then in Athlone. It was unreal. For the time of year that’s in it, three carriages just isn’t enough,” Samantha Webb, Jamie’s mother told The Irish Times.
“This is Jamie’s first time travelling on a train in a year and a half because he shouldn’t be on a train but we’d no other choice because we’re going to Barretstown for the weekend with Crumlin Children’s Hospital.”
Speaking also, his aunt Frances said: “It was terrible. We were all like sardines in a can on top of one another. If there was an accident or an emergency, where was everyone? We’re standing and standing and standing. Everyone was stressed out.
“It’s a laughing stock down the west. I’m on the train regularly and it’s always like that. It’s pure ridiculous now. The only thing we can do down the west now is have a protest. It’s a pure disgrace to be honest. It’s pure ridiculous every time you come on it.”
Meanwhile, Ballina couple Jackie and Kevin Hennigan, who got on the train at Manulla, said they were standing for three hours and there were 29 people standing in the area between two carriages at one stage.
Kevin Hennigan told The Irish Times: “There was an old woman of about 70 beside me and she was actually sitting down on the floor where the two carriages join because she couldn’t stand up. She had to get off in Athlone. She wasn’t able to come to Dublin.
“It was all the way down the aisles. You couldn’t move. You couldn’t go to the toilet. You couldn’t go anywhere. People were gone demented. People were trying to squeeze three people on to a seat instead of two. I’ll never travel on Irish Rail again.”