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Irish Rail accused of 'just not caring' as scale of lift problems at train stations revealed

Over the last two years there have been multiple instances of lifts being out of order for more than 20 consecutive days.

IRISH RAIL HAS been accused of ‘just not caring’ about accessibility at train stations with lifts repeatedly out of service for long periods of time.

Data released by Irish Rail to Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy on out of service lifts at Dart and commuter stations reveals the scale of the problem: at several stations the lifts were out of service for more than 20 consecutive days.

Social Democrats by-election candidate Anne Marie McNally pointed out that one of the stations in her area, Fonthill, had a lift out of service for over 70 days in total over the almost two-year period. 

On one of the instances a lift was out of service for 26 consecutive days at this station.

“You could understand an hour here or there or even a day for maintenance. But 26 consecutive days shows a total disregard for wheelchair users, or even parents with prams or older people who might have their shopping,” she said.

“In both of those stations you need to take the lift or the stairs in order to cross the tracks.”

Recently disability activists claimed this issue is “getting worse” at Dart stations. On one day this month Access for All Ireland said there were 11 Dart stations where lifts were out of order. 

The campaign group said that this was the biggest number of lift outages they had ever recorded. 

The data provided by Irish Rail shows a number of outages in Drogheda station in 2018, most for more than 20 days consecutively, with a lift out of service almost every day of the year. 

  • In Athenry in January this year a lift was out of service for 27 days.
  • In April a lift in Ballinasloe was out of service for 14 days.
  • At Seapoint station a lift was out of service for 26 days.
  • In Gort, a lift was out of service for 21 consecutive days. 

Irish Rail Irish Rail

“We’re not just talking local stations here, some hubs like Connolly also have lifts out of order for long periods,” McNally said.

“Imagine getting to a station in the morning and realising you can’t access the platform. It’s not enough just to say ‘make your way to the next station’, that’s not practical.”

We are constantly doing things to encourage people to leave the car at home and use public transport but why would people be willing to forego the car if this is the situation? It speaks to a mindset of just not caring about the issue. / YouTube

A spokesperson for Irish Rail said generally the longer outages are for a “total renewal project” or where there is significant damage or other major issues due to vandalism or flooding.

“So it would be down to the need for major works, not maintenance resources as in most instances repairs are addressed same day or within 24 hours,” he said.

New technology is being rolled out to allow staff to check on cameras who has called a lift when the button is pressed and then assess whether or not to activate it. It is hoped this will help to cut down the instances of vandalism. The system is already in place in a number of stations and there are plans to expand this.

In the case of the Drogheda outages, this was due to renewal work and the spokesperson said that, where notice was given by a passenger with a disability, staff were able to ensure that a train was brought to an accessible platform so the lift was not required.

“We do realise the impact this has on wheelchair users and we are doing preventative maintenance as well,” he said. “We are in a situation now where we will have more comprehensive lift renewal over the coming years.”

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