As it happened: Irish Rail and the NRA dropped by for our live Q&A

…And 101 other things. Barry Kenny of Irish Rail and the NRA’s Sean O’Neill dropped by the newsroom for a chat this afternoon.

DYING FOR AN update on the Cork-Limerick motorway?

Sick of queuing each evening at a congested M50 junction as you wonder ‘what’s being done to get this thing moving again’?

Wondering why the nation’s truck-drivers seem to insist on steering head-on, under rail bridges to small to fit them?

Barry Kenny of Irish Rail and Sean O’Neill of the National Roads Authority dropped by’s offices this afternoon to take part in our semi-regular ‘ask the expert’ slot.

It made for an interesting Q & A session.

For instance, we talked to Kenny about:

  • Why toilet facilities at some stations are being closed down. 
  • What’s being done to address vandalism at some Dublin stations. 
  • When the Phoenix Park tunnel will be in wider use – and what the benefit will be. 
  • What’s being done to fix those frustrating faults on the rail network. 
  • When we can expect an airport rail link in the capital.
  • Why four carriage trains are still being run, at rush hour. 
  • And problems with Irish Rail’s seat-booking technology.

Video / YouTube

Next up in the hotseat, we put readers’ questions about the following to O’Neill…

  • M50 tolling – and whether multi-point tolls will ever come in. 
  • When the Dublin-Wexford road is due for completion. 
  • Rubber-neckers causing traffic tail-backs after accidents. 
  • The proposed Cork-Limerick motorway (of course). 
  • Junction 8 – the mysterious M50 ‘ghost junction‘.
  • Those strange half-built concrete totems dotted along the motorway network. 
  • And who turned the lights off on the M1.

Video / YouTube

If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing right now –‘s Cliodhna Russell live-blogged the whole session, as it happened…

We’re just about to get under way here.

First up is Barry Kenny from Irish Rail.

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Barry will be here for about 20 minutes so get your questions in.

Barry is explaining how a truck driver hit a bridge at Bath Avenue today and drove off. He says these incidents are always followed up.

Speaking about vandalism at Dart stations- he says communities are becoming more active to stop anti-social behaviour.

Kenny says the new intercity plan to link Dublin airport with the rest of the country can happen within four years from approval to trains running.

Kenny explained that some toilets at train stations had to be closed due to vandalism but added that most services have toilets onboard.

Barry O’Shea asked who deems services to be in Dublin zone?

Kenny said the decision is made by National Transport Authority. Daragh added it can be frustrating for people who can be charged more if they live just over the line.

Our reporter Paul Hosford asked why St Patrick’s Day worked on a Sunday service when it was so busy? Kenny said it wasn’t just a flat Sunday service and there were extra trains at certain times.

When asked about packed commuter services, Kenny said DART travel and commuter travel always involve a heavy amount of standing at peak times. Sounds like that’s just the way it is!

Kenny said the technological systems are being changed so information will be up on the screens for booked tickets when people board a train.

One commenter said, ‘The timetable for the Maynooth commuter train is a joke’

Kenny said a lot of people do start work at 10am and that those trains also bring in a lot of students to Maynooth.

Kenny was asked if Irish Rail knew what ‘punctuality’ meant as it uses it A LOT (Daragh didn’t ask that btw). Kenny said that yes it did.

The Irish Rail twitter account is now being discussed. Kenny said,

It’s very good for getting information out to customers.

He added that the twitter account can’t respond to all tweets being sent but that it is being monitored and overall he thinks it’s helpful.

Kenny finally added that Irish Rail is always happy to hear about positive journeys and experiences.

Sean O’Neill from the National Transport Authority is up next – he will be taking your questions in a few short minutes.

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Daragh nearly said that Sean was from the National Rifles Association…

He’s from the National Road Authority to be clear!

O’Neill said traffic on the M50 is increasing 10% year on year.

He said a part of that is because of the improved economy and more people heading to work.

O’Neill said right now the M50 is fit for purpose.

O’Neill said the N17 upgrade ‘is actually frozen’.

There had to be a huge scaling back and it’s frozen until more funding is available.

The Cork to Limerick connector also has ‘no funding’. He says he realises it’s an important piece of infrastructure but for now it’s ‘as is’.

Hopefully the M20 will come back on track.

Why is there no Junction 8 on the M50? “Well basically is was part of a plan that it was going to be a road to bring you out to Naas but the zoning of the area changed and now it could never go back.”

Talking about crashes, O’Neill said, “Let the emergency services do their job.” He added that drivers are not helping anyone by trying to eyeball it and see what is going on.

One readers said, ‘Too many roads have potholes and no cats eyes’. O’Neill said it’s because of budget cuts.

Daragh said that some people asked ‘Who put this yank in charge of our roads?’ But O’Neil said he’s actually from Clare but spent 25 years in America which explains his accent.

So that’s it. Thanks for all your questions for Barry and Sean.

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