Cork to Dublin by Train

Published on 22 December 2009 in , , , , , , ,

Now by this point you may well have read Dublin to Cork by train and you’ll be wondering what really I can say about the return journey that I haven’t said already? After all, I’ve spoke about the trains, the speed and all that stuff.

Heuston Railway Station - Dublin

Photograph by informatique. Creative Commons licensed.

So you’re right. This won’t be a long post. However it does give me the chance to give you a warning. Never believe platform indicators on Irish Railways. For they don’t actually match reality…

We arrived at Cork train station around 10am in plenty of time for our train back to Dublin – we had train specific tickets for the 10:30 train.

Walking up to the platforms we found there was already a train in, and the platform board proudly boasted “10:30 DUBLIN HEUSTON”. Result. We can settle down and get ready to go on our way.

Going through the ticket gates, we boarded and attempted to find our seat. Which was mysteriously not reserved.

Confused – and not wanting to end up in the wrong place – we got off and asked which train this was.

“It’s the 09:30 but it’s running a bit late” was the response.

So we got off. After all, we were booked in on the 10:30 and if you’ve ever ended up on the wrong train in Britain with an advance ticket, you’ll know getting on the wrong train. Except once you’re through the ticket gates at an Irish railway station there’s nowhere to wait, so you have to wander around and look completely mad.

“Yes, I am on the platform with this suitcase. What? That’s a train? No. I couldn’t get on that.”

Eventually after trying to find out what on earth was going on, the platform staff told us to just get aboard – if we didn’t, we’d end up waiting forever for the 10:30 anyway. Given the 09:30 left about 50 minutes late this was a pretty good move. Especially when we found an entire carriage of the busy train which was completely deserted.

We eventually got to Dublin around the same time we were due in anyway, however we’d learnt a valuable lesson. Don’t trust the platform indicators.

It turns out that the platform indicators on the Irish Railway network actually run to timetable – even if the train doesn’t. If the train isn’t matching the timetable, then, err, you’re stuck.

In other words, Iarnrod Eireann’s system can only cope with the perfect world of the timetable. Now if they had a 100% reliability record, that would be grand. But they don’t (the Cork/Dublin route was 80% during our visit) so if you bothered to believe the platform indicators, well you could end up on the wrong train going to the wrong place… In such a scenario you’d think a system that updates your passengers with real time information would be rather useful. After all, your customers would quite like to know what’s going on…

It’s a lesson that came in handy the next day back in Dublin too. Just rather too late…