Belfast Telegraph

Travelling to and from game was a nightmare

By Jonathan Bradley

Ireland may have enjoyed a straightforward win against Canada in the World Cup on Saturday - but their travelling fans endured a far less routine weekend after travel chaos marred the first weekend of the competition.

Despite an extra 8,000 seats at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, train operator First Great Western appears to have vastly underestimated demand.

With some city hotel prices up by as much as 1,000% for the tournament, many fans chose to stay in nearby locations but were forced to wait hours for trains to take them to their destination.

In a statement, First Great Western said: "We're sorry for anyone caught up on busy services ahead of today's match at the Millennium Stadium.

"Although we warned customers services were likely to be very busy and to travel early, the number of people wishing to travel is slightly higher than predicted, and passenger numbers have been less evenly spread throughout the day than we normally expect."

Despite leaving hours in advance, many fans faced a sweat to make the 2.30pm kick-off, but it was after the final whistle that problems escalated.

After being encouraged to stagger journeys home, many stayed in the fan zone until after the day's third game, South Africa v Japan, but had to queue for over two hours to get into Cardiff station.

One elderly fan was seen being removed from the throng by wheelchair, while others were in distress due to a lack of drinking water and toilet facilities.

Belfast woman Beverly McDowell travelled to the game from Bristol with her partner and parents but they had to spend over £100 on a taxi - 10 times the cost of the already-bought return train ticket - when told at 7pm they would not be on a train before 9pm.

She told the Belfast Telegraph: "Coming over, our flight was the only worry, but we arrived in Bristol in plenty of time.

"We had booked onto a train but as soon as we arrived at Bristol Temple Meads it was clear there was a problem.

"There was a massive queue to even pick up our tickets, which you can't print online, and when we eventually got on the platforms and train it was so overcrowded.

"It was ridiculous really."

Having consulted social media, McDowell and her family were advised to leave their return for a few of hours after the final whistle. "When we made our way to the station, though, there were thousands of people in a queue that wasn't moving.

"In the end we got a taxi for £120 just to get back to our hotel.

"The atmosphere at the game and in Cardiff was really good so it's disappointing that there was such chaos for people.

"With Ireland playing here again, you just hope that it's sorted out, otherwise it reflects poorly on the World Cup organisation."

Belfast Telegraph


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