Irish Rail has had no food or drink services onboard since catering was halted early in the pandemic.

‘Not even a cup of water onboard’

A Cork County Councillor has described the lack of any catering service on Irish Rail as a “national disgrace”.

Speaking at the latest full meeting of Cork County Council, Cllr Sean O’Donovan gave details of a recent journey he’d made from Cork to Dublin by train.

He said there was nothing open in Kent Station and nowhere to get water, food or coffee for the 2 and a half hour journey to the capital.

The Fianna Fáil councillor said everything was open in Heuston Station in Dublin upon his arrival. Due to issues with cost and staffing following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, Irish Rail’s former catering supplier RailGourmet was unable to fulfil its contract. All catering services had initially been halted early in the pandemic and have not resumed since.

Cllr O’Donovan said: “I just think it’s not good enough. Irish Rail is one of the only European services that there’s not catering facilities available. “You can get on the train on Connolly Station in Dublin and head to Belfast – you can have your full Irish for your breakfast, you can have your vegan curry for your lunch, you can enjoy a glass of merlot or chardonnay, and you can’t get a bottle of water between Cork and Dublin or any of the other services nationwide.

“On the service back from Dublin that evening, I sat with an elderly couple who had been in Crumlin Hospital that day saying goodbye to their grandchild, the last time they’re going to see their grandchild, and they couldn’t even get a bottle of water or a cup of tea.”

Cllr O’Donovan asked that Cork County Council write to the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, to ask him to “do what he’s got to do” to give Irish Rail the funding to provide bring the service back.

Fine Gael Cllr Kevin Murphy said: “It is completely at variance with the move towards public transport. There’s a substantial number of people who use Irish Rail and having not even a cup of water onboard that train is totally unacceptable.”

Fianna Fáil’s Gobnait Moynihan added: “I’m instantly thinking of Trip Advisor and how people rely on that for making their decisions on where or when or how they’ll travel and how negative that would be to read. From a tourism point, I think they should get themselves in order.”

A spokesperson for Irish Rail confirmed to the Cork Independent that once RailGourmet was unable to fulfil its contract, Irish Rail went to market for a new supplier. The spokesperson said the procurement process for this is ongoing and that Irish Rail expects to have a new supplier in place in the new year.