Belfast Telegraph

Storm Ali: Stranded rail passengers stuck on Belfast to Dublin train for eight hours because of trees on track

By Mark Edwards

Rail passengers travelling between Belfast and Dublin have been stuck on a train for more than eight hours because of disruption caused by Storm Ali.

High winds have battered Ireland for most of Wednesday, causing widespread travel disruption.

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI, who was on the train that left Belfast at 10.30am, said Translink did not offer any alternative services when they were first stopped at Lisburn for two hours, and Newry for another two hours.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "We were stopped the first time at Lisburn and they said there was fallen trees on the tracks between Lisburn and Portadown. At Lisburn we were not offered any alternative routes to Dublin- there was no offer of a bus substitution service. We were told they were trains back to Belfast and that was it and that the only alternative was to wait, so we waited."

Mr Roberts, who was traveling to Dublin for a retail conference, said the train was stopped again at Newry due to trees on the track.

"It has been a fairly nightmarish day," he said. "I fully appreciate the emergency services are working very hard but in nearly eight and a half hours on this train we have been offered one free cup of tea, no food. The staff have disappeared and we got extremely poor information. Most of the time we were not told anything.

"Quite frankly it is appalling to treat passengers in this way. This is the major rail link between Belfast and Dublin and I understand there is not a lot you can do about storms but the customer service has been appalling. What I have seen today is the worst I have ever seen."

Mr Roberts has called on Translink to explain why no bus substitution service was not offered to passengers.

Irish Rail later put on bus transfers between Dundalk and Belfast for Enterprise services. The line was cleared and reopened after 7pm.

A Translink spokesperson said: "Due to the weather conditions caused by Storm Ali, there was significant disruption to Enterprise services today, with a number of trees down along the route on both sides of the border.

"We had numerous crews working hard to remove trees and debris from the railways throughout the day, across our network.

"In the case of the Enterprise, each time a tree was removed and the train proceeded, further trees came down on the track due to the high winds.

"When the Enterprise was at Lisburn and other stations along the route, passengers were given the opportunity to either remain on board or disembark and return to Belfast. If the train was stopped between stations, there was no road access or safe disembarkation area for customers.

"We apologise to passengers for this inconvenience which was a result of the stormy weather.

"Due to the lengthy delays experienced on board the Enterprise today, we are offering affected customers a gesture of goodwill. They should contact us through feedback@translink.co.uk providing their booking or ticket details."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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